Yen & You: The 3 benefits of a post office savings account

Yen & You is a recurring feature written by Austin Morgan, a JET in Fukui Prefecture. Austin enjoys concerts, baseball and Mexican food. Check out his blog, Foreigner’s Finances, for more personal finance insight for 20-somethings.

By Austin Morgan

Last weekend I came out of my hibernation igloo in Fukui and ventured south to visit a friend and go to a concert in Nagoya.

While I was preparing to leave, I was trying to figure out how much money I would need to bring since I didn’t have a credit card.

It’s always difficult to accurately guess how much money you’ll need for a trip. I tried to figure in food, travel, and entertainment and then add a buffer, but I still felt uneasy about the amount I was bringing.

What if I fell in love with a new computer, iPod, or camera, but it was over the amount I brought?

After a while, I realized that I could stop worrying because I had a savings account with the Japan Post Office.

This account allows me access to my money across Japan, as long as I can locate a post office location with a working ATM. It also saves me a lot of worry because I don’t have to be concerned about carrying 50,000¥ on me for a long weekend.

This account is especially worth it for week long trips where you could be spending upwards of 100,000¥. Do you really want to carry that money on you? Chances are no one will steal it, but misplacing a bag or losing a wallet is something that can happen to anyone.

This isn’t the only plus of a post office savings account. As I mentioned in my first Yen & You post, an account with the post office can act as a barrier that prevents you from spending your entire paycheck on karaoke, rice balls, and arcades.

Instead of hoping I save enough money every month, I take out 33 percent of my paycheck a couple days after pay day and deposit it in my post office savings account. This money is deemed untouchable because it’s my long-term savings money (i.e. the money I will use to get a car and apartment when I go back to the States someday).

Separating spending money (normal bank account) from savings (post office account) is essential for visualizing the savings. After a while, the monthly savings will become a habit and you’ll start to appreciate the growth of your savings.

The third reason a savings account is beneficial is for easy transfers home. There are multiple ways to send money back to your home country, and the post office is one of them.

You can do a money order for around 2,000¥ and since your money is already at the post office, the transfer will be painless. You’ll have previous experience with the post office, and you won’t have to worry about figuring out the lay of the land, or talking to the attendants.

Almost every JET travels outside their home prefecture every once in a while, so the ability to access your money across Japan is worth the 15 minutes it took to open a post office savings account.

If your Japanese is not so good, ask a friend, your supervisor, or a JTE to help you out with opening an account. Bring your hanko, alien registration card, and passport and you’ll be ready to go in 15 minutes.

Good luck!

Photo by Javi Motomachi / Published under Flickr Creative Commons License CC BY 2.0.

7 thoughts on “Yen & You: The 3 benefits of a post office savings account

  1. Pingback: Japundit
  2. Pingback: JapanSoc
  3. Good article. Just want to clarify a couple of points:
    – Calling it a “savings account” isn’t really accurate, since conventional savings accounts from our countries of origin actually pay interest higher than 0.00001%!
    – You can use your JP Bank (post office) card in any cash machine, but you might get charged 100¥ or so for using it. But they’re fine in konbini machines, as well as most major banks.
    – You don’t need a hanko to open an account, and can also start one with as little as 10¥!

    Hope this helps! I’m very happy with my account 🙂

  4. So, I guess it’s real easy to login to the post-office online account page to check your balance and do those transfers, eh?

    Oh, no, wait, thats right, the post office account has absolutely zero facilities for online banking…

    Seriously, get a Shinsei bank account. There’s absolutely zero benefit to using the post office over Shinsei, and there’s a number of disadvantages: no online banking, no English language whatsoever.

  5. Hey, guys. Austin (the author of this post) here.

    @McAlpine

    Glad you agree. It works well on a couple of levels and there’s 0 downside to having an account besides a little clutter.

    @gainninja

    You’re right about it not being a savings account, but I treat it as a place for my “savings” so I’m going to keep calling it that. Great tip about being able to use the post office card in other ATMs. That makes it pretty handy after all.

    @James

    The lack of online access does suck, but I’m getting used to it since being here. Do I sign up for a Shinsei account online? What are the benefits of having the account? Thanks for the heads up.

  6. I had to copy and paste my comment on Japansoc to the original article because 2 of the 3 things frugalista says about the postal bank are just plain wrong. 1) Yes, there is online banking. It is a pain to apply for but it does exist. 2) There are indeed benefits to the the post bank; international wire transfers are cheaper than Shinsei or any other Japanese bank including Citibank.

    Yeah, as far as I know, there is no English. Tough. This is, um, Japan. Do banks in the US or UK or any other country offer services in Japanese? Sure, it would be helpful to those who don’t read Japanese, but I encourage anyone living in Japan to invest time in learning kanji.

    First off, kanji are pretty cool. Second, learning a few characters will snow-ball you vocabulary. I mean this as, if you know that the on-yomi for 火 is “ka” and the on-yomi for 山 is “san,” the first time you see these two characters together… BAM! you just learned the word for volcano! Understanding when to replace “s” with “z” in Japanese is a lot like a non English speaker understanding when to you “the” as opposed to “an/a,” so I won’t blame you if you accidentally pronounce the word kasan instead of kazan. But I hope you get the point, which is that anyone serious about learning Japanese MUST learn kanji.

    And for someone like me that has not really seriously studies Japanese in a classroom setting, the way to learn kanji is to find yourself in situations where you have to, um, read kanji.

    So, print out the application for online postal banking, send it in, get online, and work your way through the kanji. That is my advise.

    oh yeah, here is the copy/paste I promised:

    Sorry but you are wrong about “zero facilities for online banking.”
    for your reference, this is the login page for the postal online banking site.

    As far as for English, I guess they don’t have that, but as far as I know, the Canadian postal service doesn’t offer services in Japanese. Nor should they.

    I am not familiar with Shinsei bank. Do you need to keep a minimum monthly balance? I just perused their site. To make an international transfer, it appears that you have to submit a form, just like any other Japanese bank of which I am aware. (This is likely due to Japanese laws regarding the purpose of the transfer.) And it costs 4000 yen plus the intermediary’s take. This is more expensive than what the post office charges.

Comments are closed.