We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Foreign ATM Out of Service

Aoyama Dori and San...
Level Contributor
9,424 posts
25 reviews
Save Topic
Foreign ATM Out of Service

Foreign ATM cards are not working now in Japan. This should be a warning to any and all people coming to Japan what can happen to you if you expect to use ATM cards as a single source of obtaining cash. I've warned people about doing this and I know there are those who don't plan for contingencies. Please bring a backup source of funding that is not electronic. It can save you misery and inconvenience.

Hong Kong, China
Destination Expert
for Hong Kong, Osaka
Level Contributor
52,678 posts
147 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Foreign ATM Out of Service

You should always have cash with you, even your home currency. In the worst case, go to a money changer or your hotel. Of course, you should always have a credit card with you.

NC
Level Contributor
269 posts
15 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Foreign ATM Out of Service

Can you please elaborate on this a bit? Is this just a temporary situation due to the disaster, and likely caused by telecommunications problems?

Aoyama Dori and San...
Level Contributor
9,424 posts
25 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Foreign ATM Out of Service

Yes, of course it's temporary. I tried yesterday and it failed. Additionally, I found out that the beloved post office ATMs are not all tolerant. They use different banks to settle. But, prior to the earthquake I got 'we are unable to complete your this transaction" and it put a hold on then funds at my bank. I did this twice and it held funds twice. Those funds are still on hold. Another card worked OK and posted to my bank within minutes. I went to a different post office and got "your card issuer could not verify your pin" when it was obvious my pin was correct. (All of this pre-earthquake). After the quake it was announced the news that the clearinghouse mechanism was shutdown. The card that didn't work pre-earthquake worked today at 7-bank but interesting enough the other card wouldn't.

My advice is don't count on ATM cards.

I called customer service of both banks and enabled withdrawals. I called them when I was rejected both times and they said it was approved on the US end but in hold status. That is odd because it usually posts immediately. My accounts have large balances so the holds are a nuisance but for people with smaller balances it might be a hardship.

Edited: 12 March 2011, 20:33
Toronto
Destination Expert
for Tokyo
Level Contributor
23,112 posts
34 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Foreign ATM Out of Service

2000 postal bank ATMs were out of service.

Medford, Oregon
Level Contributor
760 posts
50 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Foreign ATM Out of Service

Would you recommend just getting yen here (US) or doing traveler's checks? We have always just used foreign ATMs to get money when we travel - so if that is not option, which is the most advantageous from ease and exchange rate standpoint? Can I easily go to a bank to exchange traveler's checks?

Oz
Level Contributor
1,106 posts
Save Reply
6. Re: Foreign ATM Out of Service

cash is always best particularly in Japan and in any crisis situation

Hong Kong, China
Destination Expert
for Hong Kong, Osaka
Level Contributor
52,678 posts
147 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Foreign ATM Out of Service

Bring USD with you. Use the (Japan) airport's money changer to get decent rates as US banks are unlikely to offer good rates for Yen. Traveler's checks are relatively inconvenient these days.

Aoyama Dori and San...
Level Contributor
9,424 posts
25 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Foreign ATM Out of Service

US$ T/C are still the best and most reliable source of exchange. More than cash and certainly better than ATM. The only inconvenience is you must find a foreign exchange counter which is very easy in a city area where a bank is.

The point is, do not under any circumstances, go to any foreign country with only ATM cards and then expect them to work. It's not just an earthquake that can cause problems. If a war breaks out somewhere or a terrorist incident with communications lines or any other sort of disruptive event happens, your ATM card becomes a worthless piece of plastic.

NYC
Level Contributor
415 posts
10 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Foreign ATM Out of Service

Any update on this issue?

A friend watching TV Japan in NY heard something about ATMs out of service in Tokyo.

Thanks!

tokyo
Destination Expert
for Tokyo
Level Contributor
4,569 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Foreign ATM Out of Service

If you can wait a few hours I can report back. ATMs last evening were shutting down a little earlier in an effort to save power. But my Japanese card worked fine the other day at the ATM. I do have a US card I will try later today in Central Tokyo.