Author Topic: ETC Cards/Readers for tolls  (Read 6672 times)

Offline Terranasaurus Rex

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ETC Cards/Readers for tolls
« on: May 21, 2012, 04:39:57 PM »
So once I heard that you can get discoints for having an ETC Card and reader on top of the convenience, I suddenly became interested! Kotaro suggested I just ask Fred, but I figured other people might be interested in it as well.

First question: What kind of discounts are we talking about? Is it only for certain times of day or will you always get some kind of discount for using an ETC?

Next: I already have a reader installed in my car, but I don't have the card. How do I go about getting a card? How is it paid for? Do you have to have a credit card?

Finally: If someone didn't have a card OR a reader, how do you go about getting a reader installed in your car?

Many thanks!
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Offline NickyB

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Re: ETC Cards/Readers for tolls
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2012, 04:51:13 PM »
I seem to hear more and more people able to get them but the biggest hurdle towards it is the requirement of a JAPANESE credit card. Nothing international will cut the mustard. For any other info Fred is your best bet on how to do it.
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Offline K-Bear

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Re: ETC Cards/Readers for tolls
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2012, 04:57:11 PM »
First question:  I *think* you will always save a little something. Especially at certain times of day *like the mornings. But it also depends on your car. Yellow plates get more of a discount than white plates. I KNOW there is a breakdown of the discounts somewhere…….

Next: (This was my own personal experience with it)
You apply for an ETC card through the ETC card company. I would get a co-worker to help you with this. If you do not have a Japanese Credit card, you can use PRE-PAID ETC cards. Basically you have to put a deposit of around 4man on the card so that the company can be sure that they will be paid if you do a midnight run. Money will be withdrawn from your bank account. The deposit is re-funded when you choose to quite the ETC/ go home.

I officially got to the` company needing me to furukomi the 4man `stage, so this is as far as my knowledge with that goes. You WILL need a Japanese helper with the application, because the ETC company needs thangs like a scan of your gaijin card and what not

Finally: Ask somebody like Kotaro?

I found the ETC (English) website limited, but here it is:

Offline fred

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Re: ETC Cards/Readers for tolls
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2012, 05:27:14 PM »
Hi! Someone called?

ETC is a two part process which does indeed lead to discounts on the expressway tolls.

1) The reader. This is the easy part.
If you need to have one installed, it will set you back about 10,000 (2 part set) to 15,000 yen (3 part set)depending on the model.
Installation requires some wiring work with the three part set being tidier.
This also includes the set up of the reader with the ETC system which basically will tell the system what size vehicle (motorbike, K-car, normal car, big vehicle etc) it is. Each size vehicle has a different charge.
Kotaro or any mechanic/car shop (Autobacs/Yellow Hat etc) can help you with this.
It is possible to buy them second hand but they still need to be re-setup with the ETC system and so the saving is not so great.

2) The card. The card basically tells the system who to charge the toll to. So, if you are planning to do a roadtrip and don't have a card, you can borrow a friend's card and use it in your car. The tolls will get charged  to them.
Getting a card is the tough part.
Normally. the card is linked to a Japanese credit card and you pay the bill every month. Obviously this means that you need to go through the process of getting a Japanese credit card which is a pain. If you go down this route, you can get a combined CC and ETC or two separate cards. The advantage of two cards is that you can leave the ETC card in the reader in your car and without risking theft of your CC.

If you don't have a Japanese CC, there is another way which I have never tried myself but my friend in Wakayama has done and it takes about a month. There is a prepaid option which requires an application and a deposit of several man. I think it works in this way.

- Pick up a form from the designated NEXCO booths on the expressway. Otherwise you can phone and order one in Japanese
- Fill out the form with an estimate of your normal monthly tolls.
- Receive a phone call in Japanese to make sure that you understand the terms and conditions. They may allow someone to translate for you.
- pay a deposit equivalent to several ( I think 4) months usage. It is either 4/6/8/10 man with rounding up. You need to do some silly maths to justify the tick box option.
- receive the pre paid card
- Every month, the months bill gets taken from your account. There is no combini option.
- When you leave, you need to give back the card and they'll return your deposit minus outstanding fees

From talking to my friend in Wakayama, if you go down this road, pay a large deposit as they stop your card if your 2 month usage exceeds 80% of the deposit.

Here is a Japanese link. No English I am afraid.

Discounts - I cannot give you a definitive answer on this as it varies soooo much. The discounts are time dependant, distance dependant, weekday/weekend dependant and promotion dependant. Very rarely, there is no discount.
To give you an example, Kofu Showa to Toyashina is normally 2800 yen by cash. I have paid 2100 using ETC and also paid 1450.

When there was a weekend promotion a few years back, I got an 11,550 toll for 1000 yen. This is the exception rather than the rule though.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2012, 06:03:12 PM by fred »

Offline karta

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Re: ETC Cards/Readers for tolls
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2012, 10:49:27 PM »
Ditto on everything Fred and others have said.

I tried so hard to get a credit card in order to get the ETC.  I think the 4man deposit is ridiculous and I have heard that it is quite a pain in the ass to get back once you leave.  But at any rate, I just don't know if it is worth that for me.
So, I followed a ton of blogs and what not about how to best get approved for a credit card.  A lot of people suggested rakuten as it is all done online and there is even a website that explains the entire application form in broken English.  But, even before that, they suggest first signing up for a rakuten bank account.  I did that, it took a while but was rather painless (though really hard if you have no Japanese). I even put money in the acct and then applied for a debit card for my bank account, got that (though this step is not necessary).  Debit cards dont allow the ETC add on thing, so  I went ahead and applied for the VISA and JCB card that rakuten offers but both were a negative.
I haven't tried since then but it was a fair bit of trouble for a completely bad result.
Some people apply for various cards though and get one immediately.  Not sure why there is such a disparity, but yeah.

Dumb stuff.

Offline buriko

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Re: ETC Cards/Readers for tolls
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2012, 12:56:39 AM »
I know Matt Mikuni got the prepaid card, he could probably tell you how to get it.

Offline vankuzco

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Re: ETC Cards/Readers for tolls
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2012, 12:18:16 PM »
I know Matt Mikuni got the prepaid card, he could probably tell you how to get it.

Indeed! Well kinda...

Here is the website for the ETC Personal Card application. This is the one where you don't need a Japanese credit card and it's tied to your bank account.

You're going to probably need a JTE or supervisor help you fill it out though unless you can read Japanese really well. I know I had some mistakes on mine also and they sent it back and I had to get it fixed.

The deposit (I think that's what it is at least) is 4man and I believe you get part of it back when you return the card, although I'm not exactly sure.

In regards to discounts the main ones that I'm aware of are on the weekend and holidays.
This website has the information where you can check out the price and discounts, but you just need to know the ETC entrance and exit names.
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Offline sevi

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Re: ETC Cards/Readers for tolls
« Reply #7 on: June 23, 2014, 01:49:31 PM »
Hey Guys, This is my first post here, but I hope that I can be of help in other forums.

Also, I realise this is an old post, but it seems like this issue may arise again so i wanted to post some information on how to get the prepaid ETC card.

If your not hugely confident in your Japanese, you may want to employ the help of a Japanese person for step 2 at least.
Anyhow! To get the Prepaid ETC card;

Step 1: Visit your nearest ETC toll booth and pick up a prepaid ETC application. (It would seem they call it the personal ETC card)

Step 2:  Write the necessary details in the form. Use Kanji where ever you can. (ie, address)

Step 3: Post some mail as proof of your address (I've heard it has to be a utility bill) and the application off.

Step 4: ETC will send you a bill for the deposit which you can pay it at a convenience store. (the deposit is 40,000 as an insurance policy)

Step 5: Once the deposit is paid, the card should then be mailed out to you. Expect it to take a week or so.

For a more detailed account of ETC, you can check out this guide  There may also be some other useful guides on A-ret.

I hope this helps!

Alex Laing

« Last Edit: June 23, 2014, 01:51:10 PM by sevi »
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