Great article, but I have been here quite a while and have drawn a blank as how to get one, being told that I need to speak Japanese to have one (activate it) and /or a Japanese issued credit card (also difficult with my level of Japanese and income. Is there any one company more friendly to stupid foreigners than the rest? Cheers Matt,
Try Asahi Net - support in English and they accept foreign credit cards. They’re mostly an ISP but they offer a SIM card as well - see http://asahi-net.jp/en/service/mobile/sim/. You could have some issues with the identity verification process (only in Japanese) but ring their support and they can guide you through the process.
The Mobal SIM is probably one of the more foreign-friendly SIMs out there- you can get it before coming to Japan or after arriving and you don’t need any Japanese paperwork- just your passport for a phone number and Unlimited Data and no contract. The pricing options are interesting - 6,000 yen/month when you use data, 1,000 yen when you don’t and you can switch it off if taking an extended break from Japan. Works for me!
Yeah, I found Mobal SIM was the best option for me. All the other carriers required a 1 or 2 year contract, I was just looking for something I could use while in Japan and not have to pay any bills when I was out of the country and not using the phone. Mobal SIM ticked all the boxes. I was already very happy with the service when I found out that they support school-feeding programs to hungry kids in Malawi. Amazing company/service. Very easy to sign up to also.
I tried to sign up for mineo but they refused my application. My research led to the conclusion that they don’t accept foreign credit cards.
This thread/article is about 2 year old, but now I’m in the process of quitting Y!Mobile because – as a cheapo – I want to save more yens. My questions are at the end. First here’s the info I got by grilling the salespeople.
About not having a Japanese credit card:
IIRC UQ-mobile accepts automatic charge/transfers for payments (from a Japanese bank account).
Note also that in addition to their well advertised 2-year S/M/L packages– which include discounts on monthly telephone charges (voice) + optional discount on a smartphone – they have cheaper and more generous usage-wise (also, less tricky) 1-year packages without these discounts. For someone who doesn’t use the telephone a lot or already owns a compatible smartphone, the difference over a 2 year period can be drastic. Haven’t used UQ-mobile yet, though.
However I have a Japanese credit card:
I’m considering getting a BIC SIM – basically they resell IIJmio with other benefits. Currently there’s a campaign ending early December, which makes it cheaper than IIJmio with an additional 3GB monthly usage, times 12 (roughly one year).
I’ll buy a phone separately.
My typical usage is almost no telephone (but need it just in case) and data over Wifi at work/home. But when I’m outside, I’d rather avoid a sluggish network. The UQ-mobile salespeople claimed the IIJmio and other MVNOs are slow.
For instance, I want to watch YouTube with a decent video quality. Any input on that? IIJmio Type A and Type D.
I rarely have the need, but it’s even better if I can provide wifi tethering for another device which accesses the screen of a remote computer. Is this a reasonable requirement with IIJmio, nowadays?
Cheers, very useful article BTW!
Hi there !
I’m interested in Nuro Mobile (they have data-only plans starting at 700Y/month for 2GB) but can’t understand if there is a minimal contract time/commitment associated.
I imagine there is, otherwise it would be too good to be true.
Thanks in advance for your help !
Thank you for your post ! Their data plans look great.
I don’t understand if there is a sign-up charge though. On the home page of their data sims it says “Initial Charge 3,000 yen” (http://asahi-net.jp/en/service/mobile/lte/) but then in their FAQ they say "How much is the signup fee? There isn’t one. However, some of our courses, and some of our chargeable option services, have setup fees."
So charge or no charge ?
All MVNOs have an initial charge of 3,000yen for issuing the SIM, although there is sometimes an additional fee on top of this. This is probably just semantics - Japanese companies have lots of different names for the same thing - joining fee, start fee, signup fee, handling fee etc.
Finally I chose BIC SIM Plan D (IIJMio over Docomo network). It’s too early for feedback.
But first I asked the BIC staff to test SIM cards on my new smartphone, which is in the IIJMio shortlist and is compatible with both plans, on paper.
On this device the Plan A SIM (IIJMio over AU/KDDI network) couldn’t connect to the KDDI network at all.