Prepaid or Postpaid Data SIM Card: Which One Best Suits You?
Plus, where to get them!
In Japan, there are many ways you can connect to a communication channel. One of them is by purchasing data SIM cards that allow you to surf the internet anytime, anywhere. But where can you buy them? Whether you’re looking for a prepaid or postpaid data SIM card, we’ve got you covered.
Before anything else, it’s important that you know the difference between the two. Typically, prepaid data SIM cards are limited to a certain amount of days, such as a week (seven days), two weeks, or up to 90 days. During this period, you’re given a set amount of data that you can use and refill in case you run out. In addition to this, prepaid data SIM cards only offer data and do not give you a phone number that you can use.
On the other hand, postpaid data SIM cards are set for a specific amount of time. Some are renewable monthly, while others are set to two or three years. Most people choose this option since it gives you a phone number, an email address that’s designated to your phone, as well as more options and perks.
Where to Get Sim Cards in Japan
These are the most common places where you can buy sim cards in Japan:
This is a particularly useful option for those who are coming to Japan (since some companies provide free shipping) and even those who are already in Japan. Both prepaid and postpaid options are available online. Besides this, you’re also given a variety of payment options.
To apply, you’ll need to provide the following data—your name, address, email address, when you would like to receive it, etc. While the procedures are very similar, you’ll have to give proof of identity (such as a residence card) and details regarding payment options (like details for credit card payment) when availing of the postpaid option.
Electronic retailers such as Yodobashi Camera and Bic Camera have multilingual staff members, whom you can ask help from in choosing the data SIM card that suits you best. Both prepaid and postpaid types are available here as well. If you’re going for the postpaid option, make sure that you bring with you a proof of identification (residence card or passport) when you go to the store.
Stand-alone Stores of Telecom Companies
The three biggest telecommunication companies in Japan are docomo, au, and Softbank. All of them have stand-alone shops around the country. For those looking for MVNO options (Mobile Virtual Network Operators who are smaller companies that avail of the major carrier’s connection and offer mostly data-only or data+voice alternatives), you can find them here. You may also avail of their services at their own stand-alone shops as well.
Since airports mostly cater to tourists who stay for a short period of time, the only option available here is prepaid ones. You can find the data SIM cards in small booths at the airport. If you want to know the best option for you, you should research the various brands and plans beforehand.
Another tip: When buying a SIM card, take note that there are different sizes available. Make sure that you’re familiar with your phone model and SIM slot size.
(26 October 2019)