Tuesday, 11 October 2016

All About the Line Pay Card

Most of you have heard of Line, the messaging app (even if you don't use it). Anyway, Line has really been diversifying their business, from issuing their own debit card (Line Pay Card) to their creating own mobile company (announced recently).

I wrote about visiting the Line Fukuoka Office, and after that visit, I got curious about the Line Pay Card and decided to give it a try. At that time, I knew only two things about it:

1. It's partnered with JCB
2. It's a debit card

What I've heard about the Line Pay is that it's very useful for splitting the bill - someone pays, and the rest can transfer money via line pay. Of course, this function is included in the Line Pay Card (which is basically an extension of the Line Pay service), although I've haven't use it yet.

Anyway, I signed up for the service in June, and I've used the card in Japan and in Singapore. I must say, I really like it!

So on to how to get the card and all the other stuff:

How do you sign up for Line Pay Card?

The company claims that you can sign up for a card in 30 seconds, and it really is that simple. Because it's a debit card (not credit), they don't require credit checks, and there are basically four steps to getting your card:

The first step is basically choosing your card. There are four really cute designs.

This two

and these two!


So step one is a cinch.

Step two: enter your name (also easy!)

By the way, the name on your card will say "LINE MEMBER", not the name you enter. This name is for when you're charging your card (and I assume) giving and sending money.

Third step: entering your postal code, because they have to send your card somewhere

Step four: enter the rest of your address.

The card does take some time to come (like they said, a week or two), so it's not a good idea to apply for a card just before you go on a trip.

Registering your Line Pay Card and verifying your identity

Once your line card comes, it's like yayyyy SO CUTE

But wait!

You can't use it yet. (Well, you can, but its use will be severely limited).


First, you have to activate your card, which is simple - follow the instructions on the paper sent with the card. Then, you have to verify your identity.

But why do you want to do that?

The answer lies in the difference between Line Cash and Line Money.

And even if you don't want to send and receive money, you should verify your identity to get the unlimited balance, which is much more convenient.

There are two ways to verify your identity.

1. By linking a bank account from the following banks:

- Mizuho Bank (みずほ銀行)
- Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) (三井住友銀行)
- Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ (三菱東京UFJ銀行)
- Resona Bank (りそな銀行)
- Saitama Resona Bank (埼玉りそな銀行)
- Bank of Yokohama (横浜銀行)
- Iyo Bank (伊予銀行)
- Shiga Bank (滋賀銀行)
- Hyakugo Bank (百五銀行)
- Bank of Fukuoka (福岡銀行)
- Shinwa Bank (親和銀行)
- Akita Bank (秋田銀行)
- Juroku Bank (十六銀行)

And more to be added (I think they added 2 banks since I started using line pay)

Most of the bank account stuff should take place in real time, but there are certain banks (Hakugyo, Iyo, Shiga and Akita) that can take up to three business days to process your request.

If you're like me and really don't want to link a bank account, there's another way to verify your identity:

In the main menu (look, you can see the "activate my card" button at the top), tap "settings"



From settings, you can go to "identity verification"



Agree to their terms and conditions, and then upload two photos (front and back) of one of the following:

- Driver’s license
- Health insurance card
- Residence card
- Basic Resident Registration Card

I actually had to try twice, but they do notify you if you fail and in the end, I got it done on the same day.

If you look at the time, they processed it in about 20min. Of course, the documents they send to your house takes longer to reach.




There is one more verification that you can do, but I didn't. And that is for:

The currency exchange function.

I did hear that they were doing some really good rate for yen to won, but I didn't register before I went back (totally forgot) so I didn't do it. You will need the "my number" card, though, and at the time, I don't think I had it yet. Then when I got it, I forgot about this because I don't use this function.

Ok, so your card's activated and your identity verified, so the next step is:

Charging your card

Charging the card is quite easy. Just tap on the + sign at the bottom right of the "card" (where your balance is shown).


You get a few options, but the only two I've used are:

1. Lawson deposit
2. Convenience store payment

I didn't do an automatic top up because I didn't link my bank account, and because I want to be able to control my spending.

Out of the two, Lawson Deposit is definitely the easiest. You don't even have to select it - for Lawson, just hand your card to the cashier and the amount of money you want to add, and that's it.

For the convenience store payment, it's a bit more complicated. After you select that option, you have to enter the amount of money you want to add. Then you get this screen:



This is when I added 5000 yen. When you do the convenience store option, Line 'pays' 1 yen, so you save that amount of money. It's not going to lead to huge savings, but I think it's a nice gesture.

(By the way, when you do the Lawson store top up, you don't get the 1 yen discount)

Using the Line Pay Card/Why I like the Line Pay Card

The Line Pay Card is extremely useful, because no more coins!! Since Line partnered with JCB, I can use it almost anywhere in Japan. So I use it at the conbini, I use it when buying groceries, etc.

I even managed to use it to make Amazon purchases, like so:



Oh, and see all the names? Those are where my purchases are made, which is a pretty convenient way of tracking where, when and how much money I've been spending. Considering that I found the manual entry thing too troublesome in my first year (and it wasn't particularly illuminating), this works as another way to make sure I'm not spending too much on frivolous stuff, because it's super easy to check.

Oh, and I've managed to use the card in Singapore too!

In Singapore, I've used it at:

- Cold storage
- Famous Amos
- Hello Kitty Cafe

But, JCB isn't as widely accepted as it is in Japan, so I can't use it everywhere. But most tourist-areas are fine.

Within Japan, I haven't been able to use it at:

- Hotto Motto
- Gindako
- Cash only shops (the old-fashioned kind).

Ok, now on to the 'benefits'

1. Controlling my spending

Unlike a credit card, I pay upfront with this (by charging the card), then I spend that. So when I go to places like Marinoa, I have a set amount of money that I'm willing to spend. In the past, if I ran out of cash, I'd just withdraw more, but I find that with this card, I'm unwilling to keep going to the ATM to top up (and this is why I don't like the automatic balance).

The second reason why I really like this card it:

2. Notification system

Every time I make a purchase, I get a line message, like a line message. I can even set up an alert, so that when my balance is below a certain amount, I get a message (and a reminder either not to use the card or to go top it up).

I find that very useful, especially for checking that a purchase has gone through (like for online stuff)

3. 2% Point system

Line gives you 2 points per 100 yen spent, which is essentially a 2% cash back with no monthly minimum amount. (OK, you can use the points for a bunch of stuff, as I will explain later, but I've gotten into the habit of thinking of it as a cash back)

I think, in that budgeting post I made before, that I mentioned my great love for point cards. Well, this is one of the best point cards that I've ever seen.

Mainly in terms of the point system (the supermarket cards are normally 1 point per 200 yen), and because I get to use two cards at one go! (For Aeon, anyway. For my other supermarket I can't use my line card with the point card)

But yeah, for most things, like my T-point card, Aeon card and all that, I can pay with my Line card AND claim points, so I'm essentially claiming points twice for the same amount.

About Line Points

Line Points used to be Line Free Coins, so you may or may not remember it if you use the service. Even now, you can get Line Points for things like watching videos, reading manga, etc. But to be honest, if you just use those, it'd take you a really long time to be able to swap your points.

Line Pay Card helps in two ways:

1. Regular accumulate points way

2. Special events. I once got 120 points (or 1 sticker set) just for charging my card using the Lawson method, and there was once a x2 bonus for purchases within a certain time frame (no minimum amount too, but I did get rice and water and all the other slightly more expensive stuff then).

Points from purchases do take a while to show up (especially convenience stores, which are way slow), but they will show up. And when you get them, you can use them for these:

Changing into cash, changing into coins, Amazon gift cards,
Metro points, Nanaco points

Music (Line music, probably) basic coupon,
Starbucks gift cards, vouchers, karaage

Roll cakes, an e-Gift and a Music premium coupon. 
The two best ones are "Line Pay" and "Line Coins", in my opinion.

The Amazon gift card isn't really worth it because you need 550 points for a 500 yen gift card, so unless you're actually giving it away, don't bother. (Speaking purely in terms of getting stuff for oneself). And yup, there's Starbucks and karaage there. In fact, if you go to the line pay online store (in the line pay section of the app), you can get Afternoon Tea gift cards too.

By the way, the points show up like this:



It's so obvious that the bulk comes from my Line Pay Card, and the amount from Line Points itself isn't much.

Redeeming Line Points

I've only tried redeeming my points twice: once was for Line Coins, which I promptly exchanged for Line Stamps


Oh yeah, I almost forgot. If you buy from the line pay store thing, it seems like you don't get points (or at least, not for the gift cards). Which is why I don't shop from there.

The second time was the 1000 yen deposit when I swapped 1000 points for 1000 yen. I much prefer this method of redeeming points haha.

And this is how it goes: exchange - credited to you - can be used immediately.

The only thing is that you have to get at least 1000 points, but if you use the campaigns and stuff (although I don't know how long they'll have it if Line Pay Card gets off the ground), then it's a lot faster.

Conclusion:

If you're based in Japan, I think the Line Pay Card is a good idea. I mean, cash is fine and all that, but with the point system, you can make your money work a little harder by getting some of it back.

I don't know if it's available overseas, but it really is usable anywhere they accept JCB cards. Which isn't as many as MasterCard, to be honest, but it's still a lot.

Let me know if you have any questions

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