Kumamoto IC Card Phase-out: Suica and ICOCA No Longer Acceptable by 2026

Five public transportation companies in Kumamoto Prefecture plan to stop accepting Suica, ICOCA, Pasmo, and other nationwide IC cards as early as April 2025. The Kumamoto City government also announced that starting April 2026, the Kumamoto City Tram will discontinue the use of these payment methods.

Which IC Cards Will No Longer Work in Kumamoto?

The IC cards that will no longer be accepted in Kumamoto include Suica and Pasmo, commonly used in the Kanto region around Tokyo, and ICOCA, which is prevalent in the Kansai region around Osaka and Kyoto, among others.

The above image, taken from the JR website, shows the areas covered by the “Nationwide IC Card Mutual Use Agreement” in Japan. These IC cards, including ICOCA and Suica, can be used for travel and purchases within the integrated areas under this agreement.

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However, with Kumamoto Prefecture’s decision to discontinue the acceptance of nationwide IC cards, these cards will no longer be usable for paying transportation fares within the prefecture. Additionally, electronic IC cards like Mobile Suica will also be affected.

There is currently no information on whether these IC cards can still be used for shopping in Kumamoto.

Why: High Costs of Updating the System

The main reason for this change is the prohibitively high cost of updating the IC card payment systems.

Kumamoto Mayor Kazufumi Ohnishi mentioned in a press conference that the estimated cost for updating the city tram’s system is about 200 million yen, while the five public transportation companies would need approximately 1.2 billion yen. These circumstances have forced them to look for more cost-effective payment methods. Mayor Ohnishi also predicted that other regions might abandon their IC card payment systems for similar reasons in the future.

Kumamoto Will Introduce New Transportation Payment Methods

To address this change, Kumamoto’s tram and bus systems will introduce contactless credit card payments. The city tram has already started using this payment method due to its lower cost and ease of operation. Passengers can simply tap their credit cards on the reader to complete their payment, eliminating the concern of insufficient IC card balance.

In addition to contactless credit card payments, the Kumamon IC card (a local IC card used for regional revitalization in Kumamoto) will still be usable within the prefecture. However, since the Kumamon IC card is not part of the “Nationwide IC Card Mutual Use Agreement,” it cannot be used outside Kumamoto Prefecture.

Kumamon IC Card special design for Aso Kumamoto Airport renovations!

Although discontinuing nationwide IC card payments may cause some inconvenience, the Kumamoto City government is working to find more convenient and cost-effective payment methods. In the future, you will only need to bring your credit card to easily use the city’s trams and buses, making travel simpler and more relaxed. We hope everyone understands this change and looks forward to a more convenient transportation experience!

You may also want to read: Japan Shinkansen Ticket Purchase & Riding Guide – A Must-Read for First-Time Visitors


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