5 Best SIM Card Options for Foreigners in Japan

As a foreigner living in Japan getting a SIM card can be quite difficult, especially if you just started learning Japanese. But don’t worry, as a fellow foreigner who’s been living in Japan for over 4 years, and currently thinking about changing SIM card. I am here to make your life easier by listing out 5 best SIM card options.

Monica
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Living in Tokyo for 4 years! I love doing makeup 💋 and constantly looking for food🍣! In order to feed myself, I have to find ways to save money💰!

Staying in Japan? You might want a SIM card.

What to consider when buying mobile phone servicePicking the right SIM card is hard, especially if you don’t speak Japanese. Often time there are too much Japanese information and a lot of confusion in finding the best SIM card. Don’t worry, here are 5 criteria that were taken into consideration when researching and finding the best SIM card in Japan.
Pricing
It the price affordable and reasonable?
Contract Terms
Is it possible to cancel any time? Is there a minimum period of contract?
Data Volume
How much data is available?
Data Speed
Based on test and comparison
Payment Methods
Credit card or Bank account only?
Others (cancellation fee, English service…)

Ok, now that we know what to look for, let’s understand the SIM card industry in Japan.

Introducing MVNOs and their benefits

Why is MVNOs betterYou must be wondering what is MVNOs? How is it related to SIM card? MVNO stands for Mobile Virtual Network Operator, where the SIM card is using one of the major mobile phone operator’s network for data and calling service. Then what’s the difference between MVNOs and the normal mobile phone carriers (Japan’s big three: docomo, Softbank and au)?

While the Japanese big three docomo, Softbank and Au offer the most complete set of SIM card services, their monthly fee can get quite expensive (can be from 5000 Japanese yen or more per month). Also, they often have rigid contracts with unflexible contract terms (minimum 2 years contract).
They offer similar data volume and speed as MVNOs and their payment options are the same as many MVNOs.

Considering the two key points of price and contract term, MVNOs’ cheap SIM card is your best option. However, as a non-Japanese speaker, there might still be some confusion in finding the best SIM card. Don’t worry this article is here to help you and only give you the important information. After hours of research, I have come up with 5 best Japanese SIM card options.

Scroll down to find which 5 MVNOs’ SIM card is considered the Top 5!

5 Japanese SIM card Recommendations!

【LINE Mobile】Best SIM card for SNS users

LINE Mobile's SIM cardLINE Mobile was created by LINE Corporation offering SIM card and mobile phone services in Japan. Since LINE is one of the most used SNS apps in Japan, LINE Mobile caught many people’s interest, and with affordable deals, it is a very popular option in Japan.

Pricing O
Contract Term O
Data Volume O
Data Speed: O
Payment Methods: Credit Card or LINE Pay Card

Details

  • Price:500 Japanese Yen~
  • Contract Terms:If you choose Data only you can cancel anytime!
    With calling service minimum is 12 months.
  • Data Volume:1GB to 10GB
  • Other:LINE Mobile’s SIM Card provides free data on major SNS apps. This means when you use Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LINE  the data is not counted. So technically you can be on those Apps as long as you want without worrying about them draining your data! Great SIM card option for those that are on SNS 24/7.
    Also, if you are a heavy LINE user, LINE mobile has the advantage of LINE age verification function which allows fast ID search when adding friends.

P.S. There is always new campaigns for you to take advantages of. Right now, all deals with calling service included are getting 1390 Japanese yen deduction for the first three months! So if you are looking for a SIM card option that allows you to be on SNS all day, LINE Mobile might be a good choice.

If not, let’s continue down to see other Japanese SIM card options!

【UQ-mobile】Fastest Data SIM card in Japan

Fastest SIM card is UQ-mobileUQ-mobile was voted as the best buy cheap SIM card option (2017) in Japan, with 90% customer satisfaction. This year UQ-mobile won two different awards in customer service. UQ-mobile has one of the fastest data speed for cheap SIM card deals in Japan.

Pricing O
Contract Term O
Data Volume O
Data Speed:
Payment Methods: Credit Card or Bank Transfer

Details

  • Price:980 Japanese Yen ~
  • Contract Term:If you choose Data only you can cancel anytime!
    With calling service minimum is 12 months.
  • Data Volume:3GB to Unlimited
  • Data Speed:Fastest Overall Data Speed
  • Other:As a non-Japanese person, I found UQ-mobile’s website easy to navigate and UQ-mobile provides a detailed English website of it’s SIM card plans. These deals are aimed for non-Japanese people with shorter minimum contract period but still amazing deals.

P.S.When using UQ-mobile’s SIM card you are recommended to use their associated apps. With UQ-mobile’s Portal App, you can choose the different data usage mode. For example data saving mode allows you to use the least amount data on SNS, or high-speed mode for watching videos.

Next!

【BIGLOBE mobile】Perfect For Youtube Watching

Youtube-friendly BIGLOBE mobileBIGLOBE often has very nice SIM card deals, for example, if you recommend it to your friends you can get one month free of charge.

Pricing O
Contract Term o
Data Volume O
Data Speed:  ◯
Payment Methods: Credit Card or Bank Transfer*

Details

  • Price:900 Japanese Yen ~
  • Contract Terms:If you choose Data only you can cancel anytime!
    With calling service minimum is 12 months.
  • Data Volume:3GB to 30GB
  • Data Speed:Depending on SIM card plan, they have different speed
  • Other:Big Lobe mobile is the perfect SIM card choice for those that love watching Youtube or Abema TV(Japanese streaming service) with their phone. For 480 Japanese yen per month, you can watch as many videos as you want.

P.S. The current campaign has no application fee for the SIM card and for the first 6 months, it is 400 Japanese yen per month!

Next!

【mineo】Cheap SIM card with no minimum contract time!

mineo mobile has non-binding contractmineo (pronounced as maineo) is known for their unique services along with cheap SIM card deals. Their service helped them receive credibility and popularity among users. They also have flexible contracts for SIM card which are great for foreigners.

Pricing O
Contract Term O
Data Volume O
Data Speed:
Payment Methods: Credit Card, Bank Transfer or Debit Card

Details

  • Price:700 Japanese Yen ~
  • Contract Term:You can cancel ANYTIME!
  • Data Volume:500MB to 30GB
  • Data Speed:Depending on SIM card plan, they have different speed
  • Other:There are no minimum months of contract for mineo SIM card deals, this means there is no cancellation fee! Also with the wide range of data plans and affordable pricing, it is great for non-Japanese people, especially if you are not sure how long you will be in Japan.

P.S.mineo is one of the few companies that offer SIM cards from all three Japanese carriers’ (docomo, Softbank, and au).On their website, they provide a SIM card comparison chart allowing consumers to choose easily.

P.S.S.However, if you have MNP contract there is a cancellation fee for the first 13 months.

【IIJmio】Trusted by Japanese Users

IIJmio is a well-trusted choiceIIJmio is also a very popular option for Japanese people. The company has received multiple rewards for being the best choice for a SIM card. IIJmio is a well-trust SIM card service in Japan.

Pricing O
Contract Term o
Data Volume O
Data Speed:
Payment Methods: Credit Card

Details

  • Price:900 Japanese Yen ~
  • Contract Term:If you choose Data only you can cancel anytime!
    With calling service minimum is 13 months.
  • Data Volume:3GB to 12GB
  • Other:You can get more than one SIM card even with the simplest plan, this way you iPad can also have data! And there is also a very simple English website for foreigners.

P.S. Right now the campaign is any calling service include SIM card deal has 3 extra GB of data and the monthly fee is only 500 Japanese Yen!

Let’s get a SIM card in Japan!

SIM card related questions to think aboutCongratulations you have just read 5 Best Japanese, budget-friendly SIM card options!!
These are just 5 Japanese SIM card options I recommend, there are a lot of other SIM card options. At the end of the day, it is all up to what you need/want.
Here are some questions you might want to ask yourself first when researching:

  • Are you getting a phone with the SIM card or just SIM card?
  • How much data do you want/need? 1GB? 3GB? 6GB? or more?
  • Or what do you use your data mostly for? SNS messaging and email checking? Or constant video streaming or gaming?
  • Do you only want data? Or do you also want to have phone calling services? How about texting?
  • How long are you going to be in Japan for? 6 months? 1 year? or more? or less?
  • Is there a particular option that you would like to have, for example, data roaming? hot spot?

These are just some really basic questions but important for picking a SIM card. By knowing the answer to these, it will make the research process and the communication with the Japanese store clerk much easier when you apply for your SIM card even if your Japanese is not fluent.

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