Friday, August 26, 2011

Credit Card Guide #3: Filling out the Application

In part 3 of our credit card mega series we will be covering the finer points of how to fill out  a model credit card application. 

While it is always good to have a Japanese friend handy, this guide should help you understand the basics of the whole process through example.

Read on...
The model application we are using for this part is a card issued by Aeon Credit Co., a subsidiary of the supermarket company Aeon. While every application is a bit different, there is obviously a lot of cross-over. 

This article is intended to serve as a basic guide; so if you are unsure about exact process of the card you are applying for make sure to ask a friend or do some further investigation. As always, mistakes on an application will result in an awkward phone call and/or a returned form.

Step 1- Which type of card do you want. Some issuers offer a choice of multipe brands while others only offer one. In this case, you can chose from Visa, Master Card, and JCB.

Step 2- This card asks you if you want to sign up to use Aeon's proprietary "waon" e-money/point system. Many cards offer service like this, especially ones issued by retailers. In this case it doesn't cost extra, but make sure you don't end up paying fees for things you don't need.

Step 3- This card gives you the option to set "auto charge" incase you run out of waon money. Presumibly it just charges you after your waon balance drops below a certain level.

Step 4- Singing up for and ETC card. It is a credit card size card you can insert into a car mounted card reader (see more info about that here) in order to get discounts on highway tolls throughout Japan. This add on is usually free of charge and is a good idea if you travel frequently.

Step 5- Singing up for "iD" which is a contact payment system where you simply swipe the card over a reader. This service is found on many credit cards and can also be used with iD compatible mobile phones. This option is also free.

Step 6- Signing up for extras. In this case the credit card is offering a special discount magazine subscription. Card issuers like to try and sell you little extras like insurance and what not so be careful not to sign up for anything you don't need.

Step 7- Your name. The top line is for adding your katakana spelling while the bottom line is for English lettering (or Chinese characters if you have them). Make sure to write your name and katakana exactly as it appears on you ID and bank account.

Step 8- Your date of birth in the Japanese calendar system, known formally as 年号 (nengou). The Japanese date system is based on the length of a given Emperor's reign so it doesn't follow the usual Gregorian calendar system. The main modern eras are  大正 (Taisho), 昭和 (Showa), and 平成 (Heisei) . Check the converter here for exact date conversions.

Step 9- the next two boxes are sex (性別 seibetsu) with 女 (onna) meaning "girl" and 男 (otoku) meaning "boy." To the right of that is a box asking are you married ( 配偶者haigusha) with 有 (yu) being "yes" and 無 (mu) being "no."

Step 10- Pick a four digit pin number that is easy to remember but isn't your birthday or address. Remember this because you will need it to pay at some terminals.

Step 11- Write your name in English characters (even if you have a Chinese character name). This is what appears on your actual card. Don't worry if you can't fit a middle name in, first and last are the ones that count.

Step 12- The number of people in your household (世帯人数 seitai ninzu) excluding yourself.

Step 13- How long you have lived in your current residence ( 居住年数 kyoju nensu) as calculated in years (年 nen ) and months ( ヶ月 ka getsu).

Step 14- Fill in your post code (the boxes on the far left) and address in Japanese characters. If you can't remember it off the top of your head then you need only look as far as your Alien Card or drivers license. The small line above is for the katakana spelling of your address.

Step 15 and 16- Part 15 is your home phone number. Skip it if you don't have one. Part 16 is your mobile phone number.

Step 17- This refers to the type of residence. In this application there are two basic categories including 一戸建て (ikko tate)  or a regular house and 集合住宅 (shugo jutaku)  or unit housing. For regular housing the options are self-owned/owned with family (自己・家族有所 jiko-kazoku yujo), company provided housing (社宅 shataku), public housing  (公営住宅 koei jutaku), or rental (賃貸 chintai). The same options are available for unit housing with the addition of the dormitory option ( ryo). Pick the number corresponding to your type of housing.

Step 18- This asks if you have a loan or outstanding housing payments. 1 is yes (あり ari) and 2 is no (なし nashi )

Step 19 and 20- The space in section 19 is for your yearly income in increments of 10,000 yen. 5,000,000 would therefore be written as 500 in this case. Step 20 represents outstanding loans, excluding auto and housing. This is also calculated in units of 10,000.

Step 21- This section represents how much "cashing" (see part 1 If this is your first card, we recommend picking the lowest amount (in the case, 300,000 yen).

Step 22- This section is for anyone who is applying for a spouse or family card. Simply fill it in like did in Step 7, including name, katakana, birthdate, sex, and relationship (zokugara 続柄).

Step 23- This section is for ribo-barai (see part 1). Select the monthly payment plan you wish (some cards let you change this later) as well as the option for "all ribo-baraiI" where all payments are automatically done in installments. If you wish to use this, enter 1 ( 利用する riyo suru) or 2 for no (利用しない riyo shinai ).

Step 24- Fill in the number corresponding to your work type. Option 1 is for public employees and company employees ( 会社員 kaisha-in and 公務員 komu-in respectively). Anyone working for JET, City Hall, or a full time private company should pick this. Option 2 is for dispatch workers and part-time workers (派遣 haken and パート・アルバイトpaato/arubaito). Anyone working for a dispatch firm like Interac, Borderlink, etc or non-fulltime hourly work should pick this. Option 3 is for students ( 学生gakusei) and option 4 is for the self employed (自営業jieigyo). Option 5 is for stay-at-home moms or dads (主婦・主夫shufu) and option 6 is for pensioners. Don't forget your student ID if you put down number 3.

Step 25- Fill in the name of your company, dispatch firm or, if you are a student, your school. Don't forget to fill out the katakana reading of your school or company's name as well as the full address of the headquarters or branch that you work at. If you work at a school list your dispatch firm or employment organization (usually city hall). Don't forget to include the telephone number in the line boxes below as well as the type of work you do (事業内容 jigyo naiyo) and your department/assignment (所属・役職 shozoku/yakushoku). Finally, don't forget to put how long you have worked in your given job (勤続年数 kinzoku nensu) in months and years. If you are a stay-at-home mom or dad, write your significant other's work place and if you are self employed, write the address of your business. 

Step 26- This section is only for stay-at-home wives or husbands. The first box on the left asks for your spouse's yearly income in units of 10,000 yen (配偶者年収 haigusha nenshu), the middle asks for how much outstanding credit your have ( クレジット利用残高 kurejitto no riyo zandaka) excluding one time charges but including auto loans, revolving credit payments, shopping loans, etc. The box on the far right asks for the amount of projected credit payments in one year ( レジットの年間支払予定額 kurejitto no nenkan shiharai yotei gaku).

Step 27- This section is for people under 20. If you are a minor, have your guardian fill out their name plus katakana in addition to address and phone number in the box below. Don't forget to circle the relationship status (本人続柄 honnin zokugara), which in this case is parent (親 oya ) or other (その他 sono hoka ). 

Step 28- The final step is entering your bank account information. If you have your bank book with you then most of the information you need will be contained within. The big blue box in the upper left has two options for payment: financial institution (金融機関 kinyu kikan ) or JP Bank (ゆうちょ銀行 yucho ginko  or the former Postal Bank). You only need to fill in one or the other. If you elect for a regular financial institution then you need the bank name, type of financial institution (regular bank, shinyo bank, credit union etc), the branch name, and the type of account (regular or checking). However if you chose a JP Bank account then all you need are the numbers that appear on  your bank card and pass book. The final square on the bottom left is the account holder's name ( 口座名義人 koza meigijini) (not pictured). This particular application asks for the name and telephone number of the applicant in the box in the top right. You will also need your banking inkan (not pictured) which you need to stamp twice in the small dotted circles.

And there you have it, folks. A fully completed card application. While each and every app is different, this should serve a good model. Don't forget to attach a copy of your ID (usually on a separate form) and if you have trouble, try going directly to a shop where they hock credit cards. If you have all the paper work in order they should be more than happy to help.

Well that about covers this section. Stay tuned for our final installment where we cover the pros and cons of getting your own card!

Other Posts in this Series
Part 1: The Basics
Part 2: Application Pointers
Part 3: Filling Out the Application
Part 4: Do You Really Need a Card?

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