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In this blog, you will learn how you can to earn flight miles in Japan and not just a few :-) Japan is known for that it is a cash-only-country, meaning that most people prefer to pay in cash and many places do not provide the option to pay with a credit card. Especially if you are from the States, then you probably know that the best way to earn many flight miles is by applying for a new credit card as well as paying all your spendings per card. Applying for a new credit card in the US might give you as much as 50,000 miles for an airline.
*This blog is mostly directed to people who live can read Japanese and live in Japan, but I am keeping a corner for English only speakers as well.
- Earning 20k miles per month without much spending
- What are point-sites?
- Online-shopping: 1 miles per each 100 Yen spent: 250 miles per month
- Appyling for credit cards: 5,000 miles per month for Zero Yen
- By purchasing advertised products on the point-sites: 8,000 miles for 8,000 Yen
- By eating at restaurants and izakayas: 5,000 miles per month
- By visiting a massage parlor or yoga club: 2,000 miles per month
- How to convert the points into miles?
- How long does it take to convert the points into miles?
- What point sites would you recommend? Are some better than the others?
- Related Posts
Earning 20k miles per month without much spending
But how is it in Japan? When I came here, I didn't know that there are ways to earns thousands of miles per month in Japan as well. It took me 9 years to find out that it is actually possible. To give you the answer ahead: it is not done by paying with credit card, but by using point-sites for things such as online shopping, signing up for a new credit card and yes, but dining and wining! You read correct, eating at a reastaurant is a great way to earn miles in Japan.
To give you a brief overview about what is possible: I currently make 20,000 miles per month through point sites on the net. Please be aware that these 20,000 miles do not come entirely free, but I spend about JPY10,000 ($100) for it. So in fact, what I am sharing with you here is not getting miles for zero Dollars or Yen, but rather a way to purchase miles very very cheap. So, I am spending JPY10,000 per month on miles and I am getting 20,000 miles for that. Considering that 1 mile on economy class with ANA or JAL is worth about 2 Yen, this means I am spending JPY10,000, but I am getting miles worth of JPY40,000.
What are point-sites?
Point-sites are sites on the net that let you earn points when using their service. Services include shopping, eating out, applying for credit cards, wellness services and others. Each points-site has its own point system, meaning the points earned on one site cannot be transferred to another. The points however can be transferred via so-called "Point-transfer-sites" into miles. The by far most efective way is to transfer them into ANA-miles. More on this later.
The good news is that point sites are free of charge, there is no membership fee or hidden costs. These sites earn their money not with charging their users, but rather by getting a share of the money the user might spend through their sites, by adverstisement and by royalties from their partners on their site (partners how sell or advertise their products on their site).
All of these sites are in Japanese only, but you don't have to be a native speaker to navigate through their sites. A bit of Japanese skills should be enough, but I will try to explain how to use them in as much detail as possible.
To give you a better idea what exactly you can do on point-sites, here a few examples:
Online-shopping: 1 miles per each 100 Yen spent: 250 miles per month
Online shopping: when you are shopping on the net, you are proably either using Amazon, Rakuten or Yahoo. Apart from Amazon, you can earn roughly 1 mile per 100 Yen spent on one of these online shopping portals. Important is that you don't access Rakuten Shop or Yahoo Shop directly, but via these point-sites.
All you need to do is, register on of these sites and then search on their site for Rakuten or Yahoo Shop and click on that banner. You will then be re-directed to Yahoo/Rakuten and and use their shopping site as usual. Important: to be able to earn these points, you need to stay on Yahoo/Rakuten up until the purchase is complete. Do not switch to other sites or tabs while browsing, or else the point-site will lose track of you and not be able to reward you with points later.
Shopping online by using these point sites is absolutely risk-free, no worries! If you decide not to spend anything then it means you spend nothing. Just, if you were about to purchase something through a Japanese online shopping portal, you can earn some extra miles without risking anything.
As said this method is totally risk free, but the amount of miles you can earn is fairly limited. Let's say you spend an average of JPY25,000 per month on online shopping, you can earn about 500 miles with that. 250 from the online portal (Rakuten/Yahoo) and 250 from the point site. So this makes just about 0.25% of the 20,000 miles you can easily earn per month. So what else is there?
Appyling for credit cards: 5,000 miles per month for Zero Yen
Yes, you can actually earn many miles by appying for credit cards in Japan, even for those, you have no membership fee! The way is the same as in the point above: by using point-sites.
Credit cards that costs no annual fee provide mostly hardly any sign-up bonus in Japan. Sometimes they do, but you first have to get lucky and mostly these points are either limited to their own store (Yahoo Card) or the bonus points are simply not that many (Odakyu Store Card). But they advertise at point-sites with pretty neat sign-up bonuses.
Why do the card companies provide these sign-up bonus only via point-sites?
Because they target different users! People who are a aware of a certain credit card and are condidering applying for it, do not be convinced by great sign-up bonuses. At least not in Japan. But people, who didn't know this credit card exists or would not see any benefit in the card, would never be reached, if it weren't for the points sites. They would only sign up for a card, if they can earn points with it. Otherwise, they wouldn't know or care about the card. Different user - different way to approach them.
Now, I would not recommend to sign up for a credit card every month, as these would damange your credit history and make it hard to apply for further cards once rejected. 5,6 cards per year should be the limit. Good thing is, there are plenty of free cards you can aplly for, so no worries, they won't go away.
The points you earn per sign-up bonus can then be transferrred again via "Transfer-Sites" into miles. You don't need to use these credit cards and spend money with them. The miles you earn, are earned through these sign up bonuses.
Another point here for the ones you are facing difficulties of getting a Japanese credit card: apply for the Rakuten Card or Yhahoo Card, these are fairly easy to pass the screeing process. In addition, you will get a sign up bonus of a fw thousand miles.
By purchasing advertised products on the point-sites: 8,000 miles for 8,000 Yen
This is another great way to earn up to 8,000 miles per month. Here, you have to invest a bit of money, in contrast to the two other two possibilities explained above. On the plus side though, you get quite a bunch of miles for still a fairy cheap rate, plus a product that you can either use yourself, gift it to a friend or sell it on yahoo auction, the Japanese eBay. That way, you get a few thousand miles without wasting much.
Honestly, many of the products that are advertised on the point-sites are either cosmetic or some kind of supplements. But sometimes you can get lucky and find some real useful stuff such as juice, vegetables, beer, wine, clothes, etc. I purchased a pack of vegetables, meat and eggs for example for 2,000 Yen and received 1,500 miles. As I would have spend some money on food anything I guess, there was no loss at all.
One thing you need to be careful here with these advertised products is whether these products are sold as a one time purchase or whether they are a subscription! You can of course cancel a subscription, but there might be conditions on how many purchasements have be made before a cancelation is possible without losing the points earned. These terms and conditions are either written on the point-site or the product site, which shows up, after you clicked on the product banner. Make sure to read them carefully. If there are some Japanese words you don't understand, please leave them in the comments section here, so I or another user can answer or simply ask one of your friends.
By eating at restaurants and izakayas: 5,000 miles per month
This is arguably the best way to earn miles! While they might not be entirely free, you get a great meal in exchange. The type of restaurants range from Ramen to Italian to Steakhouses to izakayas.
Sure there are conditions again. What you have to do is to choose between the restaurants that actually participate in this point-site program. You can find them on the monitor section on various point-sites. Once you applied and got the confirmation from the point-site, you need to go to the restaurant you chose within four to seven days. Make sure to keep the bill from the place you ate and upload it to the point-site. You need then to fill out a servey in Japanese and wait for approval from the point site, which should be no problem.
Sometimes there are extra conditions such as with how many people you have to visit at least or from what time on or avoiding Friday evenings, etc. On the one hand it is easier to just go on your own and eat st the restaurant and earn your miles, but if you go with some friends, you can pay for the whole group, get more miles and ask your friends to give you their share they are in cash. That way you can earn 5,000 miles or more easily on one evening, while also getting stuffed. Not bad if a deal!
Most of these restaurant monitors give 20% to 50% of the money you paid back in points. These points you can convert into miles later, same as with the other ways of earning miles as described above. When you convert them into miles, you can get for example 4,500 miles for 10,000 spent.
One last thing to mention here: depending on the restaurant monitor, there might be a limit of how many points you can earn. Please make sure to read these conditions before you go out and eat.
By visiting a massage parlor or yoga club: 2,000 miles per month
This is another fantastic way to earn miles. This one is not free as well, but you get a full body, feet or other type of massage for about 3,000 Yen and receive about 2,000 miles! It went twice last week and earned about 4,000 miles. No need for a survey or bill, just go to the place of your choice and relax. Sounds almost too good to be true, right?
Again, these massage parlors try to target a new audience they hope to find on the point sites, same as the credit card companies do. Just take the advantages and if you decide to go again without the goal to earn miles, good for you and good for the massage parlor. Make sure that you ca. only visit one shop one time only. Just select a different one, if you want to go another time.
So this is roughly the way how to earn about 20k miles in Japan, without spending much money. You might think now: why shall I settle for 20k? Can I not aim for more? The answer is theoretically you can try to earn more miles, but the rate you can transfer the points earned through these point sites into miles gets worse after a certain amount.
How to convert the points into miles?
Good question :-) I will try to explain this via the graphic below.
As you can see, there is no direct way to convert these points into miles. It takes three steps to get the best rate for your miles. 1) Convert the points from the point-site to transfer-points via a point converter site. 2) Convert these transfer-points to metro points. 3) Convert the metro points to ANA miles.
That way you get 0.9 miles for 1 point. If you want to earn JAL miles, this rate drops to 0.5. Doesn't sound much, but it basically means that the miles you can earn for your miles are halted. Or explained in a different way: if you want to earn 20,000 miles you would need to spend now 20,000 Yen and not 10,000 Yen!
The same phenomenon occurs, when you try to convert more than 20,000 points. It is only possibly to convert 20,000 metro points into miles each month. If you want to convert more points into miles, you need to convert them via T-Points into miles, at a rate if 0.5. This might work for free items such as free credit cards, but it gives you a grater burden for advertised products or when eating at a restaurant.
For the 0.9 exchange rate you would need a JCB ANA Pasmo to Me credit card first. It is the only card that allows you to convert at such a high margin. If you have gotten it yet, apply to it first and come back :-) Of course you can start earning points now and convert them once you have the card, but don't wait too long for applying for it.
How long does it take to convert the points into miles?
Here is one point that might effect some - it actually takes quite a bit. Roughly three months. So you need to be very patient and you won't get your miles right away. If you were planning on hopping on a plane next month using your newly earned point or miles to say, you have to skip it this time. But you surely will be able to get this done by next summer.
What point sites would you recommend? Are some better than the others?
Most point sites offer the same amount of points for the same product. There are however some sites that offer some services such as restaurant monitor that others don't and some are run by bigger companies and more less likely to fail then others. For starters, I would say it is totally sufficient to limit the point sites that you use to two. The point sites that I recommend are Habitasu and Chobirchi.
Habitasu is a great site to enjoy normal online shopping via Rakuten or Yahoo shop and also has two flash sales for credit cards and advertised products a week. The site is run by a bigger company and trusted well among users. 1 point on Habitasu is worth 1 Yen or 0.9 miles.
Chobirichi is has the restaurant monitor that Habitasu doesn't have and offers sometimes better deals for credit card sign up bonuses. One weird thing here is that Chobirichi uses a point system that 2 points or 1 Yen or 0.45 miles, but you get 2 points where you would get 1point on Habitasu. In the end, you get exactly the same rate.
You can register for these sites by clicking on their banners below. For Chobirichi, you will get a bonus through that, that you will not receive, if you access the site via google, etc. It is just about 250 miles, but why wasting that? :-)
Thanks for reading it all through the end of this long article! I hope you could learn a bit of how to earn miles in Japan and how point sites work. The bottom line is there is not much risk, but you need to check terms and conditions prior purchasing a product. The point sites themselves are free to use, so there are is no risk with registering wih them as well. Depending on whether you focus on applying new credit cards through the point sites, purchase advertised products, eat at a reasutaurant, relax at a massage parlor or simply just use them to earn bonus points when shopping on online shopping portals, the amount of money you need to invest to get your desired amount of miles may vary, but you will surely be able to fly much cheaper then when you were to purchase a regular flight ticket or even an LLC ticket.