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  • Suggested bank?

    I have just changed my tourist visa to a student one and am trying to figure out which bank I should open an account with.
    What I'd need is:
    - good online banking services, preferably in English
    - ability to set up automated utility bill/rent payment
    - ability to wire money to and from foreign banks using internet banking
    - a proper (Visa or Mastercard) debit card, that can be used to buy online or overseas
    - reasonable ATM withdrawal fees
    Is there any bank in the country that does all of the above or will I be forced to choose?
    Is Shinsei bank still the recommended choice? What about Rakuten or 7bank? What about the big J-ones (MUFJ seems to have a lot of branches around my area. Is it something I should consider?)?
    My Japanese level is so-so: I can handle daily conversation fine, but struggle when it comes to reading contracts or terms and conditions.
    Do bank accounts have yearly fees here or is it like the UK and they are free? What are typical costs for ATM withdrawals and wire transfers? Are there transaction fees when buying stuff with a debit card (I don't like going around with a lot of cash, so I tend to pay with debit cards quite often)?
    Finally, should I get a proper Japanese phone number before applying? I have been using Skype for everything so far (b-mobile data only SIM card), but it isn't 100% reliable.

  • #2
    Shinsei wins.

    Comment


    • #3
      shinsei by far

      - easy sign up (through mail/web, no inkan needed)
      - use 7eleven ATMs, 24/7 for FREE, INCLUDING the new year holidays
      - 1 free bank transfer a month. useful for sending money to remittance services such as golloyds.
      - english support
      - ATM cards have PLUS so they can be used overseas. i went to UFJ and Japan Post (yuucho) and both said that they dont have international ATM cards
      - online banking by default (there's no passbook anyway). for other banks its usually an extra step

      as for automated utility/rent payment, i'd imagine that as long as you have a bank card it can be set up. i only do this for softbank. i prefer to pay at the conbini, so that i have control over when to pay the bills.

      as long as you can write in japanese its fine. as per my personal experiences, the staff usually dont have a problem with explaining stuff to you (telling you what to write), but they will never fill out the form FOR you. you have to write everything yourself.

      if im not mistaken you can have 0 yen in your bank account in japan and nobody is going to have a problem with that, or charge you any fees. as for withdrawal fees, it depends on the bank and the ATM. could be free, 105yen, 210yen or not in service. my main account is japan post (yuucho) because its a simple no-frills no-BS bank.

      as for 7bank and rakuten, i prefer a bank that has actual physical branches and where the company's primary business is banking.

      most banks in japan don't do debit cards. one of them is suruga bank. do a search. i recently signed up for this (via web and mail) and it was just approved, should be getting it in a few weeks. you need an inkan for this. the form is in japanese. its basically a bank account for which the bank card is a debit card.

      get your 'real' mobile phone line after you do your bank stuff, once you have your bank card it makes arranging the payment mode a lot easier.
      Last edited by anfield22; 2011-12-28, 12:57 AM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Hi,

        I have to transfer my scholarship from Canada to Japan every 4 months (thousands dollars).
        I have been told that the Shinsei bank is very conveniant for foreigners.
        What about receiving dollars ? any fees ? any tips ?

        Thanks,

        Comment


        • #5
          Speaking of Shinsei, does anyone have a suggestion as to which one of their financial products would be good for someone with a big chunk of cash?

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by tripanmwen View Post
            Hi,

            I have to transfer my scholarship from Canada to Japan every 4 months (thousands dollars).
            I have been told that the Shinsei bank is very conveniant for foreigners.
            What about receiving dollars ? any fees ? any tips ?

            Thanks,
            No fees for incoming transfers. However you might be charged by your originating bank in Canada for any fees they might charge to do an international wire transfer.

            *Depending on how the money was sent (as CAD or JPY) the amount might appear as CAD in your Shinsei account, where you exchange it to JPY.*

            Comment


            • #7
              I used Worldfirst recently for the first time and they were good. You can see the exchange rate in real time and click when you see a rate you want. And it was free over 5,000 sterling. The money arrived in my Shinsei account with no deductions within two working days from me contracting the transfer at the agreed exchange rate. Their fee for sending less than 5k pounds is a third less than my UK bank is asking for.

              http://www.worldfirst.com/

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by themoonrules View Post
                No fees for incoming transfers. However you might be charged by your originating bank in Canada for any fees they might charge to do an international wire transfer.

                *Depending on how the money was sent (as CAD or JPY) the amount might appear as CAD in your Shinsei account, where you exchange it to JPY.*
                Thank you very much for your answer.
                Then, once I get CA$ on Shinsei account I can exhange them for Yen. Is it free of charge too ?
                For instance, if the exhange rate is 1/80, and if I want to change 1000$, I will get 80 000 Yens, right ?

                I am confused with the following:

                http://www.shinseibank.com/english/gaika/cam/

                • Foreign currency is not available in cash.
                • Interest rates are given on a before-tax basis, and are subject to 20% withholding tax.
                • Foreign currency deposits may fall below the original yen principal due to losses resulting from exchange rate fluctuations.
                • The exchange rate designated by our Bank shall apply to deposits and withdrawals.
                Therefore, the yen equivalent of the foreign currency principal may fall below the original yen principal even without exchange rate fluctuations.
                • Foreign currency deposits are not covered by deposit insurance.
                • Foreign currency time deposits cannot be cancelled before maturity.
                • Brochures are available at our branches for further information regarding foreign currency deposits.

                Who is eligible to this 20% taxes ??
                How to know the exhange rate designated by the bank ????
                Last edited by tripanmwen; 2012-10-22, 10:40 AM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by tripanmwen View Post
                  Then, once I get CA$ on Shinsei account I can exhange them for Yen. Is it free of charge too ?
                  For instance, if the exhange rate is 1/80, and if I want to change 1000$, I will get 80 000 Yens, right ?
                  If they are advertising their TTB rate as 80, yes you would get 80,000 yen.
                  But at that same instant, their TTS rate would be 81, and the real market rate would probably be around 80.50.
                  That 0.5 difference is how they take money off you. The more money you exchange, the more they make.

                  That said, 0.5 is pretty good for a bank, but like the earlier poster said, take a look at WorldFirst. Companies like those may be able to offer you better rates. A Japanese company CyberAgent is the best IMO, with only 0.02 taken or something in that ball park. The downside is you need Japanese ability etc to be able to open an account with them.

                  Who is eligible to this 20% taxes ??
                  How to know the exhange rate designated by the bank ????
                  Japan taxes 20% on interest earned, I don't think you can opt out of this.

                  They are just saying that the exchange rate they use is the one that they decide.
                  http://www.shinseibank.com/english/
                  (Click "Foreign Exchange Rates")
                  As of today they are operating with a rate that is roughly 0.5 yen less favourable to you than the prevailing market rate at the actual time. I'd say there is a pretty low likelihood of this suddenly changing. Compared with other banks which take between 1.0 and 6.0 yen off you, Shinsei is a pretty good deal.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Brown Cow, do you know if Worldfirst can deposit to a Japan Post account?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I would think so - why not? All you need is the BIC/IBAN number, address and account number.

                      However, I would give them a quick call using Skype and ask to speak to a dealer. The Sydney office handles this part of the world so no troubles with time difference and they are helpful and knowledgeable.

                      +61(0)282984999

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by fxgai View Post
                        If they are advertising their TTB rate as 80, yes you would get 80,000 yen.
                        But at that same instant, their TTS rate would be 81, and the real market rate would probably be around 80.50.
                        That 0.5 difference is how they take money off you. The more money you exchange, the more they make.

                        That said, 0.5 is pretty good for a bank, but like the earlier poster said, take a look at WorldFirst. Companies like those may be able to offer you better rates. A Japanese company CyberAgent is the best IMO, with only 0.02 taken or something in that ball park. The downside is you need Japanese ability etc to be able to open an account with them.



                        Japan taxes 20% on interest earned, I don't think you can opt out of this.

                        They are just saying that the exchange rate they use is the one that they decide.
                        http://www.shinseibank.com/english/
                        (Click "Foreign Exchange Rates")
                        As of today they are operating with a rate that is roughly 0.5 yen less favourable to you than the prevailing market rate at the actual time. I'd say there is a pretty low likelihood of this suddenly changing. Compared with other banks which take between 1.0 and 6.0 yen off you, Shinsei is a pretty good deal.
                        So, if I wanna do it in a traditional way (I have limited japanese abilities and also english then it's time to read bank contract, so I am a bit affraid of Worldfirst) and according to your experience, Shinsei is better that the other Citibank, Mitsubishi or Sumitomo for the purpose of receiving money from abroad ?

                        I believed the Citibank take a fix commission (something like 4000Y) and then apply the market rate at the actual time. right or false ? same question for the other banks, I believed that only a fix commission was taken.

                        Thak you so much for your previous comment.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by tripanmwen View Post
                          So, if I wanna do it in a traditional way (I have limited japanese abilities and also english then it's time to read bank contract, so I am a bit affraid of Worldfirst) and according to your experience, Shinsei is better that the other Citibank, Mitsubishi or Sumitomo for the purpose of receiving money from abroad ?
                          Based solely on the difference between TTB and TTS, Shinsei at 1 yen is better than Citibank which appears to use a 2 yen spread. The benefit of this would be more pronounced the larger the amount of money you transfer.
                          (You might look at the actual rates on display at their respective homepages, to be sure)

                          I've not checked Mitsubishi and Sumitomo recently but the last time I checked I found that the rates the Japanese megabanks were charging were terrible. I doubt it has changed since.

                          I believed the Citibank take a fix commission (something like 4000Y) and then apply the market rate at the actual time. right or false ? same question for the other banks, I believed that only a fix commission was taken.
                          Make no mistake, the 4,000 yen commission is not the only way they fleece money out of you. Every bank is operating with a spread between their TTB and TTS rates. The Japanese megabanks might have a 6 yen spread, Citibank is 2, and Shinsei only 1. But they all make hay through this spread, more so than via the fixed commissions, I imagine. This is essentially a hidden cost, and that's the way they like it. 1 yen difference doesn't sound like a lot but when you multiply it by thousands it starts to add up. (Hence the interest in alternatives such as WorldFirst)

                          You might want to double check that both Shinsei and Citibank do take that fixed fee ("lifting charge") for incoming foreign transfers. I forget which bank it was but I have a recollection that one was doing it for free (although it may have been dependent on account balance or something else too).

                          Yes, the banks are surely basing their exchange rates on the prevailing market rates at the time. I guess they use either a rate from a specific time of the day or otherwise the time of the transfer being processed.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by anfield22 View Post

                            - use 7eleven ATMs, 24/7 for FREE, INCLUDING the new year holidays
                            This is a bit tricky. This is one of the reasons I would like to open an account at shinsei, but further in your message you mention

                            Originally posted by anfield22 View Post

                            as for withdrawal fees, it depends on the bank and the ATM. could be free, 105yen, 210yen or not in service.
                            So which one is it? If I look on their website is also says:

                            Shinsei Bank/ATMS
                            24/7 free of charge ATM with full bilingual guidance.
                            AND

                            Partnership ATMS
                            Any partnership ATM you use is free of charge.
                            So I can assume ALL ATMS are free of charge?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by wernst View Post
                              So I can assume ALL ATMS are free of charge?
                              W...
                              I use 7-11 ATM's on my Shinsei card and get no extra fees...

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