Why Japanese people use cash instead of credit cards?

Cash culture in Japan

In Japan, people don’t use credit cards that much like overseas.
People usually use cash at a supermarket, a convenience store, etc. in Japan.
I myself use mainly cash if I go to a supermarket.

Why Japanese people don’t use credit cards like overseas?

Possession rate of credit cards are not low but usage rate is 10 %

Somehow possession rate of credit cards are not low in Japan.
It says 2 to 2.5 credit cards per person.
The total number of credit cards is more than 250 million for its population 126 million.
It is above average compared to overseas’.

But when it comes to actual usage rate, it is about 10 %.
It becomes very low.

The reason Japanese mainly use cash instead of credit cards

  • Fear of losing and stealing
    I think one of the biggest reasons of Japanese people don’t use credit cards that much is because of the fear of dropping and stealing.

    Of course, cash is same if you drop it or having it stolen.
    But people feel the damage of illegal use is much larger than the cash.

    If you drop cash, you just lose the money you drop but if you drop credit card there is a possibility of illegal usage of an outrageous amount.

    And people also fear their private information might have been stolen at the same time.

    So people feel it is very dangerous when they lost it.

  • Sense of security for holding real money
    I think this is also very big reason.


    Money is money, not card, that if you use it, it disappears while card leaves you debt until its withdrawal date.
    You can’t use card as much as you want without care as it leaves you a large amount of debt in the end.

    But human beings (some people) tend to use card as much as they want contrary to cash as you can’t see its flow as real.

    That holds people back to use it.

  • Not having enough knowledge about credit cards
    To begin with, people might don’t have enough knowledge about credit cards.

    This includes I and we know simple merits such as getting point or special bonus sometimes but we don’t know the details of it.
    Such as its mechanism, compensation, other service, etc.

    Our lack of knowledge about credit cards might also make it a bit difficult thing to approach.

  • Social Safety in Japan
    Japan is very safe that no one try to steal money directly from you such as on the street.
    I might went too far as there are crime in Japan, too but the rate is very low compared to other countries.
    So as long as you don’t drop it, no problem to carry the cash.
  • No counterfeit bill circulated
    I think there are countries that counterfeit bill circulates.
    You can’t easily use a big money such as more than $100.

    But as long as I lived until today in Japan, I’ve never seen Japanese counterfeit bill.
    That you can use paper money without hesitation in Japan.

Then no place to use credit cards?

If you hear Japan is a cash culture, you might think I can’t use credit card in most of the places in Japan.
But it is not, rather you can use credit cards most of the places in Japan.
You can use it at a convenience store, supermarket, book store, shopping mall, department store, etc. but only at a small shop or small private shop you can’t use it.
So there are many places you can use credit cards but we just don’t use that much.

As for me

I also mainly use cash.
Especially when it comes to small things such as food, drink, etc.
One of the reasons is I’ve already gotten used to the cash culture since I was a child.
And before I hold credit cards I was also afraid of losing it and felt like it can be very dangerous.

But once I get it I found that it is handy and easier than cash with merit such as point.
So now I use credit cards often at the same time except for small things that I buy at a supermarket.
I think the number of people who use credit cards has been increasing in Japan now.
If Japanese government also encourages us or do something for credit cards, we will use it much more.

Anyway when you come visit Japan, please carry Japanese yen with you always.

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