Home Working Holiday in Japan Japan Low-Cost Phone Plan and SIM Card for Foreigners

Japan Low-Cost Phone Plan and SIM Card for Foreigners

by Acyl


Applying for a mobile phone contract is a must before living in Japan

Living in Japan, whether you stay in Japan for a long time for studying abroad, working holidays, or obtaining a work visa, you need to apply for a telephone network card to meet your daily needs.
After all, you need to communicate with family members overseas, and you need to use the Internet in your daily life. Moreover, it takes time to apply for the installation of home network WiFi, and the monthly and installation fees are not cheap.
Therefore, it is generally recommended to apply for a mobile phone-connected network contract plan as soon as you arrive.

However, there are so many mobile network plans to choose from in Japan, how should I choose?

How to choose the right mobile network card solution

Before choosing a mobile network plan, ask yourself the following 4 questions:

  1. How long do you plan to stay in Japan?
    Six months/one year/two years/three years or more?
  2. How much cellular data usage do I need each month?
  3. How much budget can I spend on mobile internet every month?
  4. Is there a device that is compatible with Japanese mobile service specifications?

Which program is suitable for working holiday participants?

It is recommended to apply for a one-year contract plan

Because people who go to Japan for working holidays generally stay in Japan for one year. If you successfully obtain an additional work visa and extend your stay in Japan, you can also apply for other network card contracts after the contract expires.

Therefore, this article will mainly introduce the one-year network contract plan.

Advantages of a one-year contract

After the contract expires, the monthly fee can be maintained at the original level until you leave Japan.
(If you have a work visa of three years or more, or if you live in Japan for a long time, you will naturally have a better plan to choose from, but it will not be detailed in this article for the time being)

Mobile network data usage selection

If you are staying in a Share House, or if the rental house has already provided WiFi, the data usage may not be too high.
Basically, if you look at Facebook, Instagram, web pages, etc., basically 3GB of traffic is enough for a month, and 6GB is basically more than enough for every month.
Unless you often use data to watch movies and listen to music when you go to school and work every day, you need to use more data traffic.

Mobile phone, mobile device selection

It is recommended to bring an iPhone to Japan, because the iPhone uses full-frequency technology, and there is no need to worry about the problem of mobile network cards not corresponding in Japan.
You only need to check whether the phone is locked with a sim card before departure, and restrict the use of phone cards from other network providers.
As for mobile phones of other brands, it is recommended to check whether there is a corresponding spectrum, or buy a mobile phone directly from a Japanese telecommunications company.

Recommended Internet Providers

The most familiar network providers are believed to be large telecom providers such as Docomo, Softbank, and au.
Although these companies have many choices of plans and good services, the monthly fees are generally relatively high.
Some network operators have to bundle the purchase of mobile phones before they can sign a contract, and the contract period is usually as long as two years or more.
If you cancel the contract on the way, you will also need to pay a very high cancellation fee.

If you are already planning to take your mobile phone to Japan and only need an Internet calling plan, you can consider using itMobile virtual network operator (MVNO).
That is, some brand companies that rent equipment from Docomo, Softbank, and au, and provide low-cost, short-term solutions

Features of MVNOs

  1. Provide a one-year short-term telephone contract plan, which can be renewed or terminated after the contract expires
  2. The termination fee is lower than the network card solutions of the three major telecom operators
  3. The one-year contract plan is relatively flexible, suitable for working holidays and short-term study abroad
  4. The network quality is not inferior to the contract solutions of Docomo, Softbank, and au
  5. The monthly service fee is cheaper than traditional companies
  6. Provide pure network solution / network + voice call solution

A calling plan suitable for those planning to live in Japan for a short period of time

There are currently two popular MVNO service providers on the market that offer relatively low monthly fee plans, and are relatively easy to apply for.

  1.  Line Mobile
  2.  Bic Sim Powered by IIJ

The main reason for being able to provide low-cost services is that Line Mobile and IIJMIO calculate the prices of communication service items separately.
For example, you can choose to add/not add voice call service, include/not include mobile network data service, etc. in the plan.

1. Line Mobile Japan

line mobile

Line Mobile is the mobile communication brand of the communication software LINE Company. In Japan, Line Mobile is almost the only way to communicate with others. Therefore, Line Mobile is very well-known in Japan.

Advantages of Line Mobile Japanese mobile network card sim

  • Low basic monthly fee and call charges are calculated separately (voice calls are charged according to the volume, and there is no charge if you do not use it)
    • Apps using major social media do not count data usage
      • (For example, viewing videos and photos in programs such as LINE/Twitter/Facebook/Instagram will not consume data traffic)
    • Voice calls and video calls in the Line app do not count data usage, so it is convenient to use Line video and voice calls to communicate with family and friends for free
  • You can save the remaining data traffic to continue to use next month
    • For example, the plan is 3GB per month, and 2GB is used this month, and the remaining 1GB can be carried over to the next month for continued use
  • You can transfer the remaining data usage to friends
  • Line Mobile monthly payment can get Line Point rebate
    • Get Line Point rewards at a specific rate, and Line Point can also be used directly as cash at convenience stores, Amazon, etc.
  • The basic monthly fee is low, and the monthly fee can be as low as ¥2,000 yen if you don’t often call friends

Working Holiday / Japanese Students Using Line Mobile Japanese Example

Usage habits: Need mobile data, occasionally communicate with classmates through voice calls, often use different social media software

Suggested use: コミュニケーションフリー (voice call SIM contract plan) + 10 points for calling かけ free questions (additional services depending on needs, not mandatory contracts).
The monthly fee is about (¥1690 ~ ¥3220) + ¥880, that is, the monthly fee does not exceed ¥4000 at most.

Line Music+ lets you listen to music with unlimited data usage

It is recommended to choose Line Music + data plan, voice call + network card Sim plan, and add Line Music value-added services.
Select 3GB / 5GB / 7GB / 10GB for the basic data usage or select the usage amount. Basic data is used in places other than Line Music.

The monthly fee is about (¥2390 ~ ¥3520) + ¥750 + ¥880, that is, the monthly fee does not exceed ¥5000 at most.

Note that Line Music+ and Line Mobile are two separate plans, there is no music service without purchasing Line Music.
You can listen to music without Line Music+ but only with Line Music, but all data traffic will be counted within the basic service.

Japanese Line Mobile program plan selection teaching

Communiche Sion Free Features

  • コミュニケーションフリー is the English Communication Plan. Including monthly designated data traffic (3GB ~ 10GB) and voice communication function (billed according to usage)
  • Monthly final monthly fee calculation method: the selected mobile data plan monthly fee + the monthly voice call billing used.
  •  The higher the traffic included in the mobile data plan, the higher the monthly fee (for example, 3GB/5GB/10GB per month, and the monthly fee for the 10GB plan is about twice that of 3GB)
  •  Apply for 10 minutes of phone calls at the same time, and you can make free calls within Japan
  •  As long as each call is hung up within 10 minutes, there will be no additional charges, and there is no limit to the number of calls per month.

The difference between コミュニケーションフリー and Line Music+

  • The Line Music+ plan does not count the basic data usage in the plan when using the Line Music service
  • The Line Music+ plan does not count data usage when using major SNS programs, including LINE/Twitter/Facebook/Instagram (except for the live broadcast service in the SNS program and the external web browsing of the program, which need to be calculated when using it)

Line Mobile Unlimited Data Detailed Rules

Recommended Monthly Plan Options

  • If you don't often use web pages other than social media software, it is generally enough to choose a monthly plan of 3GB or 5GB.
  • Plans with voice calls are around ¥2000 to ¥2500.
  • If you need to use the 10-minute call to answer questions, the monthly fee budget is about ¥3000.

Sign up for a plan that doesn't include calling, although the monthly fee will be a little cheaper.
But without a phone number, it will be relatively troublesome to find a job.
If you need to switch back to a plan that includes calling functions in the middle of the contract, it will be treated as a breach of contract, so it is not recommended.

Remarks: LINE officially launches new SIM card plans from time to time, so all information is subject to the official website

Japan_line_mobile_ plan comparison
The monthly fee of Line Mobile Japan is divided into plans with additional calling service/no additional calling service, which are suitable for different working/studying plans in Japan

Points to note when applying for the Japan Line Mobile plan

  • "10-point call かけ free questions" must apply for "voice calling SIM" before you can apply.
  • The actual monthly fee price isLine Mobile Officialprevail
  • The required data usage can be changed in the middle of the contract
    • For example, I applied for a 3GB plan at the beginning, and then found that it was not enough, or the amount of data was too much to use. Data plan changes can be requested and will take effect the following month.
  • LINE MOBILE's contract is to cancel the contract within one year, and there will be a liquidated damages charge.
    • For example, if the contract starts on January 1 of this year, liquidated damages will be charged if the contract is terminated before January 31 of the next year, and liquidated damages will not be charged if the contract is terminated after February 1 of the next year.

Line Mobile Japanese mobile phone application preparation and teaching

first thing to prepare

  1. Credit card (credit card issued in the place of residence / credit card issued in Japan)
  2. Residence card with printed address
  3. Resident card issued by the ward office
  4. A mobile phone or tablet that can connect to the Internet in Japan

The credit card can use a Japanese credit card or a credit card issued by a bank in the place of origin (or a Japanese Line Pay card), and then you can go toapply online Or go to the store to apply.

Store application has advantages and disadvantages

Advantages: You can get a phone sim card on the same day, and there are also staff who can answer questions.
Disadvantages: A certain level of Japanese conversational communication skills is required, and a special trip to the store is required.

Stores that can apply for Line Mobile

It is recommended to apply at a branch of Bic Camera, because in addition to applying for Line Mobile, you can also compare the price of Bic Sim's plan. And Bic Camera's branches are more convenient.

Online application for Line Mobile process teaching

  • Prepare personal documents
    • Resident card and resident card issued by the ward office
  • Select the desired plan
  • enter personal information
  • Take a photo of your personal identification document and upload it to Line Mobile's webpage
  • Choose the method to pay the monthly fee (credit card / Line Pay card)
  • Set Login ID login name, password
  • Application completed, waiting for email confirmation
Process of applying for Line Mobile Japan

buy discount pack

Choose whether or not to buy phone sim card bundles on places like Amazon.
If it is a set purchased on Amazon, first enter the 16-digit invitation code, and then enter the discount code.

line_mobile_Japan_Application_Working Holiday
Enter the promo code キャンペーンコード to get a Line Mobile discount

Select the desired service plan, telco line

Docomo line (ドコモ return line) or SoftBank line (Softbank return line)

Different companies also have different coverage in various regions of Japan, but there is basically no difference when living in a big city.
If you plan to stay in the suburbs for a long time, you should pay attention to whether the area is better covered by Docomo or SoftBank.

Then select the desired phone plan.

Line_Mobile_Japan_Application_Teaching_Working Holiday
Choosing the right route and plan is very important for future life in Japan

Select desired data usage

After selecting the desired phone sim plan

  • It will pop up to select the amount of data usage "basic data capacity を selection", just select the required amount of network data.
  • In the column of "サービスタイプを选択",
    • Select "データSIM" (can only access the Internet, but cannot make calls)
    • Select "データSIM (SMS payment き)" (you can only surf the Internet, send and receive text messages, and cannot make calls)
    • Select "Voice Call SIM" (you can surf the Internet, send and receive text messages, and make calls)
  • In the "Call Service を选択" column
    • "いつでも电话のみ使用する" is based on the usual telephone call volume, and a fixed fee is charged every 30 seconds
    • "10 minutes call かけ questionOperationに进入する" means that after applying for the plan, as long as you hang up within 10 minutes, you will not be charged for every 30 seconds of the call

Choose whether to buy a mobile phone at the same time, whether to apply for a new number

Line_mobile_Japan_Application_Working Holiday
Choose whether to apply for a new number, need to apply for a network Sim card or a mobile phone + network card plan
  • In the column of "Shen し込み Division"
    • Select "New Regulatory Number での申し込み" to apply for a new Japanese number
    • Select "Other Society からの九り改え (MNP 転入)" and you need to enter the information of the original Japanese number (only applicable to transferring other Japanese phone numbers to Line Mobile)
  • In the "Apply for content selection" column
    • Select "Terminal + SIM Card" to choose the Japanese mobile phone you want to buy
    • Select "SIM card ぉ の み", you only need to select the type of phone network SIM card, which can be used on mobile phones brought to Japan.
      Choose the Phone Sim size that fits your phone
line_mobile_Japan_Application_Working Holiday
Enter personal information, upload supporting documents, and payment method to complete the application

2. Bic Sim Powered by IIJMIO

Working Holiday_Internet SIM Card_IIJMIO_BIC_SIM

Bic Sim is a telecommunications brand provided by IIJMIO, using au lines or Docomo lines.

Features of BIC SIM

  • The monthly fee is similar to that of Line Mobile
  • Billed in the form of "basic mobile data with voice call + voice call pay-as-you-go"
  • There are often different discounts, and the monthly fee is slightly lower than Line Mobile
  • There are no restrictions on data usage, and the data volume of the package is extremely high, suitable for users who often watch YouTube, live broadcasts, etc.

Recommended BIC SIM mobile phone plan

Bic Sim has three main "Mobile Data + Voice Call" plan plans, and the price depends on the data usage included in each month.

Working holiday_mobile phone sim_BIC SIM
BIC SIM by IIJ three optimal plans

The more data, the higher the monthly fee (voice calls are charged every 30 seconds). The price in the picture is the official price, but Bic Sim treats new applicants very preferentially. Basically, if you apply at any time within a year, you will have the opportunity to encounter different welcome offers. The most common is that the amount of data is doubled every month, or the monthly fee is greatly discounted, and so on.

Features of Bic Sim

  • You can switch to one of the above plans at any time during the contract period
  • There is only a one-year contract, and no liquidated damages will be charged if the contract is not terminated within one year. It is suitable for one-year visa holders.

Bic Sim Three Plans

  1. ミニマムスタートplan (Minimum Plan) low usage plan
  2. リイトタートplan (Light Start Plan) usage plan plan
  3. Family Plan (Family Plan) High usage plan

1. ミニマムタートplan (Minimum Plan)

The basic plan includes 3GB of data usage, a mobile phone sim card, and voice calls.
Applying for an additional Sim card requires an additional monthly fee.

2. Light Start Plan (Light Start Plan)

The basic plan includes 6GB of data usage, a mobile phone sim card, and voice calls.
Applying for an additional Sim card requires an additional monthly fee.

3. Family Plan (Family Plan)

Precautions for BIC SIM

  • The first 3 phone SIM cards can be used at no additional monthly fee, and can also share the data usage within the plan.
    For example, if you apply for 1 SIM card with voice calls and 2 pure network cards without calls, you can put 1 voice call Sim card on your mobile phone, and put it on your iPad tablet computer to use the Internet. (Additional fees are required to apply for the second and third Sim cards with call function.)
  • You can also consider sharing the monthly data volume of the same plan with good friends, which can save monthly fees.
  • Voice calls are billed as you go, but you can apply for "10-point call かけ free question", and there will be no extra charge for voice calls if you hang up within 10 minutes.
  • The remaining amount of data in this month can be carried over to the next month
  • You can manually lower the network speed, and use the network at low speed without calculating the usage
  • Ability to purchase double data usage up to an additional 50GB per month. Suitable for those who need to work in the suburbs and dormitories without WiFi

Bic Sim IIJMIO Exclusive Mobile Data Saving App

Another selling point of BIC SIM IIJMIO is the app "IIJMIO クーポンスイッチ" for saving data usage, which can reduce the speed of the network in exchange for unlimited use of the network.
It can also be switched to OFF before going to work, and the messages/pictures received during work will not consume data usage.

IIJmio's dedicated APP can adjust the normal network speed (ON) / low speed (OFF) but unlimited traffic usage network.
You can also easily check the remaining data usage due this month and next month on the APP.

Working Holiday_Mobile Solution_IIJMIO_line_mobile
The BIC SIM IIJMIO APP can manually adjust the network speed to save usage

Although it will be slower when watching videos at low speeds, there is no problem receiving text messages.

Working Holiday_Mobile Phone Plan_line_mobile_iijmio
"IIJmio クーポンスイッチ" (IIJmio Coupon Switch)

Available on both Android and Apple's iPhone/iPad
Download APP: Google Play Apple Store

How to apply for Bic Sim IIJMIO mobile phone plan

The application method is the same as that of Line Mobile Japan
prepare first

  1. Credit card (credit card issued in the place of residence / credit card issued in Japan)
  2. Residence card with printed address
  3. Resident card issued by the ward office
  4. A mobile phone or tablet that can connect to the Internet in Japan

Then you can use theOnline application for BIC SIM by IIJMIO Or go to "Ge'an SIM カウンター" (Ge'an SIM counter) to apply directly.
It is very simple to apply at the Ge'an SIM counter. With the assistance of the staff, you will sign and write your personal information. Usually, you can get the SIM card in about 2 hours.

Ge'an SIM counters can generally be found at Bic Camera branches.
Gean SIMカウンターAddress

Choosing between Bic Sim and Line Mobile

Since LINE MOBILE will temporarily stop accepting new applications in 2022, if you need to live in Japan in the future, you can pay more attention to the service plan of BIC SIM

Bic Sim and Line Mobile actually have their own advantages. I didn't say which one is better, only which one is more suitable.

But in simple terms, if you often use social media software APP, Line Mobile will be more suitable, because it will save data.

If you often play online games and watch Youtube, Bic Sim may be more suitable.
Because the monthly fee is relatively cheap, the amount of data is also a little bit more, and there is no limit to usage.

Or look at which side has a lower initial fee (ie Sim card issuance fee, contract document fee, etc.).
BIC SIM has an initial fee of ¥1 from time to time, and the money saved is almost equivalent to 1-2 months of monthly fees.

Image Source: Bic Sim Powered by IIJ Line Mobile
*The actual monthly fee price is subject to the official price at that time

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