There was a time back in the 90s and early 2000s, when you needed a phone card to use telephone booth on the street. Coin phones were rare, so you had to buy a phone card at a kiosk or gas station, to be able to use them. And those were the days hardly anyone was in possession of a mobile phone, so if you really had to call someone, to tell them you were coming home late, you better had one of those pretty phone cards.
But nowadays they are all relicts of a different time. The last few pay phones are back to accepting coins. The idea of prepaid cards has never been really successfully developed in Germany. Whereas in other countries…
Suica (and Pasmo also) work just like London’s Oyster Card. You can recharge them anytime you like and your ticket fares will be subtracted. No annoying coin counting needed. When you hold your Suica to a scanner it will show you how much balance you have left.
But Suica is not only useful for buying metro or subway tickets, but also for buying drinks at vending machines. No cash needed! Also UFO-Catcher and many convenience stores accept Suica and Pasmo. Just watch out for that cute little penguin on a sign or on the vending machine itself.
Getting a new one costs 2.000 Yen (500 Yen of which is deposit) and you can charge them in 1.000 Yen intervals, up to 10.000 Yen in one run. Charging is only possible with cash.
If your balance equals 0 after the subtraction of the fee, you’ll still get your deposit back.
– 220 fee
+ 500 deposit
= 500 Yen refund
There are Midori-no-Madoguchi offices at JR stations, where you need to go to return your Suica and get your refund.