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JAL Group and Japan Rail East in new Card Venture

Search ASIA Travel Tips .com 21 April 2004

The JAL Group and JR East, Japan's major railway company, based in Tokyo, have reached agreement to cooperate on a wide range of business activities, the first of which is a new credit and electronic money card created by combining the JAL Group's JALCARD and the JR East ''View Suica'' credit and electronic money card. The new card will be called ''JALCARD SUICA'' and will be introduced in the Japanese domestic market in winter 2004.

The new card will provide a wide range of interchangeable benefits for air and rail users. Cardholders will be able to use the card to earn flight miles, as a credit card and to pay for rail transport through an IC stored fare function. When using it as a credit card to buy rail fares, ''JALCARD SUICA'' can accumulate JR East ''Thanks Points'' which can be used to credit future rail travel or converted to air miles in the JAL Mileage Bank (JMB), the airline's frequent flyer programme (FFP).

JALCARD has 1.2 million members and an annual turnover of 746 billion yen. Holders of the JAL CARD are also eligible to be members of the JAL Mileage Bank (JMB). JMB currently has 15.9 million members and members can earn miles through taking flights, shopping, dining, car rental and other methods.

JR East's ''View Suica'' credit card - introduced in June 2003 - is a combination of the JR ''View'' credit card and the JR ''Suica'' card, an IC stored-fare computer pass card for rail travel and, since March 22, 2004, for shopping at JR East station shops and food outlets.

About 8.3 million Suica IC fare cards have been issued and rail commuters can use them to pay for rail travel at 481 JR East railway stations in the Kanto and Sendai areas, on the Tokyo Monorail linking central Tokyo with Haneda Airport and also on the Tokyo Waterfront Railway (Rinkai Line). There are about 2.6 million JR East ''View'' credit card holders, including ''View Suica'' cards and the annual ''View'' card turnover is 257.6 billion yen. (The Kanto area of Japan includes metropolitan Tokyo and neighbouring prefectures. Sendai is the prefectural capital of Miyage Prefecture in northeast Japan). 

If a ''JALCARD SUICA'' cardholder earns 10,000 miles from JAL through the JAL Mileage Bank, the miles can be used to pay for rail fares equivalent to 10,000 yen.

A ''JALCARD SUICA'' cardholder arriving by JAL domestic flight at Tokyo's Haneda Airport, for example, could use the card for buying the air fare, for paying the Haneda Monorail fare to central Tokyo and subsequent paying for connecting JR East rail fares, making the journey cashless and seamless.

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