Challenging online shopping in Japan

Staying in Japan, have you ever been in a situation where you wanted to order something in the internet but couldn’t do it because the only possible way to pay was via credit card? If you have been here as an exchange student like me, you probably have been in this kind of situation more than once. Many things are just so much cheaper in the internet, even to the point where the item itself only costs 1 single yen. While many sites offer an option where you can pay in cash in a convenience store, sites like Amazon.co.jp often only accept credit cards and other similar options. I have heard of people asking the seller if they could pay in some other way and succeeding, but this is actually against the rules of Amazon so you shouldn’t even consider trying it.

Should you just give up then? No, there’s one option. That option is called Visa Prepaid Card, in short, vPreca.

NOTE: This post is in no way sponsored nor requested by vPreca or Lifecard. I’m writing this in a sole purpose of informing my fellow foreigners in Japan that there is a card like this.

vPreca makes internet shopping possible even for exchange students!Source: http://vpc.lifecard.co.jp/

▼Table of contents:

  1. What is vPreca?
  2. Where to buy vPreca?
  3. How to use vPreca?
  4. Costs of vPreca
  5. vPreca in a nutshell

 

What is vPreca?

Amazon's Danbo trying to figure out how to shop online in Japan
vPreca is a prepaid card offered by Lifecard company. It’s advertised as an easy and convenient option for a real credit card as your application will be accepted immediately by default with no screening process. As the name says, it’s not actually a credit card – it’s a prepaid card and you have to pay the amount you want to use in advance. You also won’t get a plastic card (although you can still change your card’s design into a very cute one in the internet).

As vPreca isn’t an actual plastic card you could carry around, you can only use it in the internet. I guess you could compare it to those services offering coins you can use instead of money.

vPreca can be purchased with various balance options starting from 500yen and going up to 30 000yen. You are allowed to hold 10 active cards at once and by using the internet service, you can combine the balance of your cards to up to 100 000yen, meaning you can use up to 100 000yen in one transaction. Cards will expire in one year from the day of purchase.

 

Where to buy vPreca?

You can buy the card either in the internet or by visiting a convenience store offering the service. If you don’t have a telephone number that you could use for the confirmation of the service, you should buy the card at a convenience store. In case you do have a number, you probably want to pre-register in the internet as they offer more options for the balance and you can also use services such as security lock (this can be configured afterwards for a card bought in a store as well). However, as the payment in convenience stores for internet orders is currently suspended, you might want to consider buying the card in the store for now.

Danbo trying to keep balance while net shopping in Japan

Convenience stores currently offering the service of vPreca purchase:

  • Seven Eleven
  • Lawson
  • FamilyMart
  • Circle K (サークルK)
  • Sunkus (サンクス)
  • Mini Stop
  • Daily Yamazaki
  • Seicomart

vPreca can also be purchased at internet cafes using PayNetCafe system as well as at many WonderGOO stores. Depending on the store, you either have to make the purchase in the machine first and then paying for it at the register or you can just handle the whole process at the register.

The cards you can purchase at a convenience store are the ones with balance of 2000yen, 3000yen, 5000yen and 7000yen. In case you’re like me and only have a Japanese bank account but no credit card, you might want to buy the card online where the card types offered start from 500yen, going as high as up to 30 000yen (however, for some reason 7000yen card can not be purchased in the internet). In case you don’t have a Japanese bank account, you have to either purchase the card at a convenience store terminal or wait until the convenience store payment option for internet orders becomes available again.

Although the personal information required for the order is very minimal, in the case you don’t want to fill in any details about you and find the registration process annoying or time-consuming, you should consider buying a vPreca Gift. It can be used the same way as vPreca but you don’t have to fill any personal information when purchasing the card and the registration process of the card is very short, and can be done easily via a QR Code.

Also, please note that even though you can register without filling any details about yourself and even use a nickname, it’s required by law and the rules of vPreca that you should be at least 18 years old.

In case you need help with the purchase process of vPreca, check the official site of the card with English directions here: vPreca English site. You can also ask me – I think I have enough experience using these to be able to explain pretty much anything related to them.

 

How to use vPreca?

Danbo's kid wants to order something in the internet
You can use vPreca in any online store that accepts visa cards issued in Japan. After registering the card at the vPreca site, you can use it exactly like an ordinary Visa card. You have a card number, expiry date, card holder name and security code written on the card and you just have to fill them in the spots you would use for an ordinary credit card. If the Visa 3D Verification Service is required for the purchase, you should fill in the login details you use for the vPreca MyPage.

 

Costs of vPreca

Although vPreca is rather cheap and unlike ordinary credit cards, you won’t be taken any annual fees, there are still some costs you should take into account.

  • 200yen one-time fee when purchasing the card
  • No annual fees
  • Maintenance fee for dormant cards if you don’t use your card for a period exceeding 3 months (125 yen or the remaining balance of your card if it’s less than 125yen)

The maintenance fee will be charged on 25th of each month after 3 months have passed without using the card. However, if you use the card even once in this period, the fee will not be charged.

 

vPreca in a nutshell

  • Internet-only prepaid credit card.
  • No screening process, anyone over 18years old can purchase the card.
  • No need for a Japanese bank account or credit card.
  • Balance from 500yen to 30000yen, combined up to 100 000yen.
  • One-time fee of 200yen at the time of the purchase.
  • Valid for one year.
  • Can be used in any internet store accepting Visa issued in Japan.

Amazon's Danbo mascot trying to get a Japanese credit card
If you have anything you would like to know more about, take a look at the official site of vPreca – they have an English site as well. You can also ask me by commenting below! I would also love to hear if any of you have had experience with this card and how was your experience. I personally only have positive experiences with this card but I’m especially interested on how smoothly the process is if you aren’t fluent in Japanese.

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