Connect your IC card to your iPhone to easily pay for train travel and purchases in Japan with just one tap.
Easily connect your Icoca or other prepaid travel card to your iPhone for seamless one tap transit rides and purchases in Japan
Traveling via the public transit network in Japan is one of those things that seems quite complex at first glance, but in reality is actually pretty straightforward once you get started.
Prepaid travel cards can make the process much, much easier. Having fares automatically calculated for you makes riding transit a breeze, not to mention you’ll never be fishing through your pockets for change again. That’s why purchasing an Icoca, Suica or Pasmo is one of the first recommendations we make for a new visitor to Japan.
Starting in 2023, things got even more convenient when Apple introduced support for the ICOCA card via its Apple Wallet app.
That’s right, you can now connect your ICOCA card to your iPhone, allowing you to pay for your transit rides and purchases with the tap of your phone. You’ll no longer need to carry around a physical card and you can even link your credit card for automatic top-ups.
Before you get started, make sure you have the following items handy:
- Your physical Icoca (or Suica or Pasmo) card
- Apple iPhone 8 or newer running iOS 16 or higher
How to connect your physical ICOCA card to your iPhone
Here are the steps to connect your physical ICOCA card to your iPhone:
- On your iPhone, open the “Wallet” app
- Tap the “+” icon to add a new card, then select “Transit Card”
- Choose the card you want to add (Icoca, Suica or Pasmo)
- Tap “Transfer Existing Card”
- Enter the last four digits from the back of the card. (Birth date is not required for standard Icoca cards, so you can leave that field blank)
- On a table or other flat surface, place your phone on top of the Icoca card until “Card Added” shows on screen confirming the transfer
That’s it! You can now view your card balance and start making purchases and riding local transport with just your iPhone.
You can also go ahead and discard the plastic card, as it will no longer function once connected to an iPhone.
There are a few important notes to keep in mind after transferring your physical Icoca card:
- The physical card will no longer function, your iPhone will be required for all future transit rides.
- Your unique card can only be connected to one device at a time. If you get a new phone, you’ll need to transfer it to the new phone to use it.
- By default Express Mode is turned on. This means that payment can be made in one tap of the phone without authenticating via passcode, Face ID or Touch ID. You can toggle this function on and off by clicking the “…” icon and “Card Details” next to the card in your Apple Wallet.
Mike Rogers is a content creator who has lived on-and-off in Osaka for over 13 years. When not in Osaka, he’s travelling the world with his worldschooling family of four or building up his small homestead on Canada’s west coast. His adventures and exploits are documented on his website, Slowsteading.
Kyoto Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Kyoto guide
- Check Kyoto accommodation availability on Booking.com – usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Kyoto
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Buy a data-only SIM card online for collection when you arrive at Kansai International Airport (for Osaka and Kyoto) or Tokyo's Narita Airport. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router
- Compare Japan flight prices and timings to find the best deals
- If you're visiting more than one city, you might save money with Japan Rail Pass – see if it's worth it for you
- A prepaid Suica card makes travelling around Kyoto easy – here's how
- World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while traveling and claim online from anywhere in the world