Finances & Money

Money Matters

Additional information for students preparing to come to AIU may be found in the Daily Life Checklist on the Semester / Year Programs, so please be sure to download that list, as well.

Bringing and Sending Money, Credit Cards

Japan is a cash-based society. Japanese people tend to carry large amounts of cash on their persons and it is relatively safe to do so. While in Japan, and especially rural Japan, you should expect to as well.

Cash and Traveler’s Checks

  • Bring enough traveler’s checks and/or cash to cover your first 6-8 weeks in Japan. Due to the recent introduction of the “My Number” system, it may take more than 6 weeks to open a bank account and receive international wire transfers.
  • Traveler’s checks and cash can be exchanged for Japanese yen at most banks, including the local branch of Akita Bank and at Post Offices across Japan. You should change currency before arriving in Akita. Once you arrive in Akita, you will not be able to exchange currency at the local banks until after you complete residence registration, which may take up to 3 weeks.

Credit Cards

  • You are strongly recommended to bring a valid credit card with you to Japan (Visa, MasterCard, Diner’s Club, American Express).
  • Many major banks, hotels, restaurants, etc. accept credit cards, but the majority of local retailers, restaurants, etc. do not accept credit cards.
  • Verify that your contract between you and your credit card company allows you to use your card in Japan before coming.


  • Foreign ATM cards from the Cirrus, Plus, Maestro and Visa electronic card networks can be used to withdraw money at Post Office ATMs across Japan, but they cannot be used at local bank ATMs, including the Akita Bank ATM on the AIU campus.
  • Some banks and Post Offices may permit you to use a foreign credit card to borrow a limited amount of funds, and will display acceptable credit card logo stickers indicating which cards can be accepted.

Wire Transfer

  • After you open a bank account, you can receive wire transfers.
  • Wire transfers cost between JPY2,500 and JPY5,000 and can take a week or more to arrive.
  • The first time you receive a wire transfer, you will need to bring your passport, Residence Card, hanko seal, and “My Number” certificate from the City Hall to the bank to confirm your identity.
  • To remit money to your bank account, please click here for the information which the sender will need (PDF). 

Opening a Bank Account

If you wish to open a bank account in Japan, you can do so by yourself after arrival. It does not cost anything to open a bank account and there is no monthly maintenance fee or minimum daily balance requirement.

The following types of students will need bank accounts:

  • Students who will receive a scholarship at AIU (e.g. JASSO)
  • Students who plan to participate in AIU’s Community Outreach Activities (highly recommended for all students!)
  • Students who plan to receive financial assistance from overseas via wire transfer (see above).

It will take approximately one month to open your bank account after you arrive, as we must wait for the city hall to finish processing all of your registration paperwork, first, so if you are depending on wire transfers for financial support, please plan to have enough yen on hand when you arrive to cover your first month of Living Expenses.