Travelers to Japan should be aware that for the second time – to my knowledge – 7-Eleven stores in Japan are not allowing Mastercard cards, including Maestro and Cirrus cards, to be used at their ATM machines.
Seven Bank, operated by 7-Eleven, is among the more popular ways of obtaining cash in Japan. Over 12,000 7-Eleven stores have an ATM within, permitting cash withdrawals.
Unfortunately, due to a dispute between Seven Bank and Mastercard, Seven Bank has again blocked the usage of Mastercard, Maestro and Cirrus at their ATMs. The first suspension of service lasted nine months, from December 2009 to August 2010. In both instances, Seven Bank claims in their own words that the action is “in response to a revision in conditions by MasterCard that will impede the Company’s provision of ATM services.”
You can still withdraw cash using Visa cards (including those with the Plus logo), American Express, JCB, Union Pay, Discover Card and Diner’s Club.
If you have a Mastercard, Maestro or Cirrus card on the other hand … like me … you’ll want to turn to Japan Post, the postal provider of Japan that pretty much has an ATM located in every one of their branches across the country. Note however that not all ATMs are available 24 hours a day… only central post office locations in the major cities offer 24 hour ATM service. Most others are available only during the post office’s business hours: those in major cities will have longer business hours, while those in more rural locations will have shorter hours and may be closed on weekends and holidays.
Citibank is another alternative, as they have bank locations in the major cities and at the main international airports.
One thing to note is that you can do an online search for Seven Bank ATMs in English through their website, while for Japan Post the search is only available in Japanese.
Here are some links: