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Japanese cell phone plan results

Before going to Japan I mentioned my research on the various Japanese cell phone plans. Now that we have actually experienced a year with Japanese cell phones I’ll give you a review.

Getting the phones was more complicated than I imagined. We couldn’t get them as soon as we got to Japan because the providers require a gaijin card which may take a few days to obtain–especially if you arrive in Japan on a Friday or Saturday. A passport is not good enough. Once we had the gaijin cards (gaikokujin-tourokushou or 外国人登録証) we visited several different Softbank stores. They all quoted us different offers. We ended up going with the Harajuku store for two phones for a year on the White Plan Family. We were expecting about 800 yen a month per phone, the seemingly low price due to the fact that we only planned to use them to call each other. The first few bills came in at more than double these amounts so we went in, they made some adjustments, and the bills dropped to about 2,000 yen a month–not the 1,600 yen we were hoping for but with taxes and whatever we didn’t push it.

We had to pay with a credit card which meant the bills were even higher as the currency translation for our US credit cards always stuck us with a few more bucks. Most monthly bills ended up being about $28 after all of the fees.

When we went to cancel we had to pay 20,000 yen (again, credit card only–no cash) so we got stuck with a final bill of over $250 with the strong yen. Ouch!

If I had it to do over again I would have purchased cheap phones and a prepaid option. With the amount we called I probably could have saved a few hundred bucks during the year.

One Response to “Japanese cell phone plan results”

  1. 1
    Aseem:

    You could have gone to a Yodobashi or Bic Camera and asked for a phone on down payment. This way, you don’t need to pay for the phone’s cost for 2 years in installments. And there is no contract either!! But they continue to give you discount on the phone for 2 years. So effectively your phone becomes free. Let me give an example.
    Assuming phone’s cost = JPY 2000 per month
    Phone’s discount (usually with the plan you take) = JPY 980 per month
    White plan charges = JPY 980 per month
    S-mail and data packets = JPY 315 per month
    Total = JPY 2315 per month for two years
    Now if you pay phone’s cost upfront as down payment, then
    Total = JPY (2000 x 24) 48000 (one time) and JPY 315 per month only.
    No contract either. In addition you get 10% Yodobashi points too for the JPY 48000 you paid. 🙂

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