Now, I’m sure we’ve all had our fair share of culture shocks in Japan. But having worked in banking back home, I don’t think even the Delorean itself could have quite prepared me for the Back to the Future experience of the Japanese Banking system.
ATMs that close on weekends(especially difficult in Oki without a Conbini in sight), Banks that close at 3 and Kanji, Kanji everywhere. However, after a while I didn’t quite get my Hoverboard but I came up with some ways of working the system. This is sharing some tips that have helped me during my time in Japan. Disclaimer; The following is what has worked for me and I can’t guarantee that all information is 100% accurate and it has what has worked for my own situation.
Now, I think it’s about time I got a commission from this company for how much I’ve plugged their services during my time on JET but they are probably the best bank I’ve come across in Japan. They still won’t offer you a credit or debit card but have Internet Banking available in English, free withdrawals from JP Post and Conbini ATMs, Overseas ATM withdrawals and a 24/7 English helpline. The best part is you can sign up without ever entering a branch; sign-up online, receive the forms; inkan and photocopy your ID and post it back. They also have a free online transfer per month. This means if you sign up with TransferWise (see below) you can transfer money home without leaving your kotatsu in the winter months.
Transferring money home
Many JETs can be quite evangelical when it comes to there choice of remittance provider. I’m no exception. Regardless of the method you choose, make sure you are intimate with any fees that your bank in Japan charges, that the remittance agent charges and any fees your bank in your home country may charge. Also, remember the fundamental truth; If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.It’s important to understand that almost all providers effectively charge you two fees; their advertised fee and their cut on the market exchange rate. Many remittance agents say they charge ‘zero fees’ but in reality they will make up the difference (and then some) by offering a much lower exchange rate than the market exchange rate.
The three most common remittance methods that JETs use are; JP Post, Go Remit, TransferWise and Paypal. I’ll go over them one-by-one.
JP Post, has slightly worse exchange rates of the three mentioned above(as they don’t advertise their information online). But, unlike GoRemit and TransferWise you don’t need to sign up beforehand and can show up at the Post Office and send your money the same day. Make sure to bring the following with you;
-2,000-2,500 yen transfer fee(Note: May vary slightly from country to country)+ transfer amount in cash.
-ID; MyNumber notification paper and Residence Card/Passport.
You will need to fill out a bi-lingual form and have all your bank details from your home country(including the SWIFT/IBAN code and your Branch Address and number etc.)
To use GoRemit and TransferWise you’ll need to do a Furikomi. You can take this into a branch yourself or via an ATM(see this English guide here) and ask to do a 振込・ふりこみ。Furikomi or electronic transfer. Note; Your bank will charge you a fee(unless you use Shinsei, see above), San-In Godo the bank that most JETs use charges about 500 yen.
GoRemit, is owned by Shinsei bank. And the application process is identical. You sign up online(all in English), receive the forms and then post back with photocopies of your ID, your bank information back home, proof of address(a recent utility bill) and your inkan. Later in the mail you’ll receive a bilingual letter with GoRemit’s bank details on it, to transfer via furikomi. The transfer is done automatically and should take 1-3 business days to reach your account back home. GoRemit take a flat 2,000 yen fee deduction and your bank back home as well as intermediary banks may also take a deduction. Contact your bank in your home country for information about incoming telegraphic transfer fees.
Transferwise is the new kid on the block. They have a sliding fee scale depending on how much you’re sending. Often their fees may appear more expensive than their competitors BUT they offer market exchange rates making them more competitive(see the table below). To sign up, you can do it entirely online using your webcam or phone to take photos of your identity information(Residence card, My number notification card etc.). After that it’s just a few days until you get your notification card in the mail, enter this information online and you’re ready to go. Just write down the information and transfer the funds to TransferWise via Furikomi. Like GoRemit, you may have to pay a transfer fee to your Japanese Bank. However, unlike GoRemit the money is recieved in your home country from a domestic bank account(ie. A Canadian will receive the amount from an Canadian bank account etc.) this means in most circumstances(unlike GoRemit) you will not pay a fee to your bank in your home country for receiving funds.
TransferWise also offer a generous referral system, that gives you a credit on your first transfer as well as a reward to whoever refers you. However, you must follow the referral link from the start. Ask an existing customer for a referral link if you wish to sign up.
Paypal is not a remittance service however, it is often sited by some JETs as a good option because there are ‘zero fees’. However, that excludes the large chunk that PayPal often takes from the exchange rate.
Take a look at the comparison below. This does not include the fees you may pay for electronic transfers within Japan or what you will pay in your home country as this varies from situation to situation. But, this should give you an idea of how much you should expect to receive;
|5th Aug 2016||Transfer Wise||Go Remit||PayPal|
|Rates(JPY per USD)||101.01||102.40||108.70|
|USD amount received||$2,739.01||$2,714.84||$2575.00|
|5th Aug 2016||Transfer Wise||Go Remit||PayPal|
|Rates (JPY per NZD)||72.46||74.75||78.10|
|NZD amount received||3,812.86||3,719.06||$3584.90|