RANDOM JAPANESE ODDITY EXPLAINED

Every time that I buy something (no matter how large or small) and use a credit card in Japan I get asked “1 or 2 payments”. I know this because of the hand signals that accompany the clerk speaking rapidly to me in Japanese.

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I always thought this was some form of affordability thing – do I want to split my payment across two credit cards? After all, my cards might struggle with $30 of cat litter and random bits from the D2.

Turns out I was halfway right. An oddity of the Japanese credit card market is that you can take two payments at the till. The second half of the payment will be processed at a later date (15 or 30 days I was told) and you pay the credit card interest for the period (As obnoxious as in Canada – 19.99%).

Mystery explained.

As a random aside, I just ordered the Amazon Visa. Why? Unlike my AMEX, no currency transaction fees – which is a surprising 2.9%. While researching this I also found some interesting information on bank transaction fees::

An analysis by Cardhub showed that using credit cards with no currency conversion fees save consumers an average of 7.9 percent when compared to exchange rates offered at banks and 14.7 percent when compared to airport exchange services. Even if you are stuck with a card that charges the fee, you’ll still come out ahead using plastic, the survey found: You’ll save 4.9 percent on average and 11.7 percent, compared to banks and airport currency exchange services, respectively.

Those fees add up.

Comments

  1. Also, many places (at least in Europe) will ask if you want to pay in local currency or your domestic currency. If you choose the latter they do the exchange … where the rate can be out of this world.

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