So now you’re living in Japan as an expatriate, settled in your new apartment or house, and you’ve received the first electric bill. How do you pay it, how do you calculate the bill to make sure you’re not being cheated? Well, you can always ignore the bill, but you will for sure not have electricity. So instead you choose to pay it. Let’s look at how Japanese electric companies calculate the fee.
Calculating the bill
Similar to the U.S. (and probably other countries), electric companies send a worker to check the meter for electricity usage. Usually they check the meters every 30 days and bill you on your previous month’s usage. However, if you moved into an apartment in the middle of the month, your bill will be pro-rated from the day you moved in through the date of the meter check. There is a base fee for electricity that must be paid every month based on the amount of usage. The more electricity used, the higher the base fee. Below is an example of a Japanese electricity bill. The numbers in the red box is the amount due.
Paying the bill
So now you’ve looked the bill over, seen the amount due and now it’s time to pay. So how can you pay the bill? Well, there are three ways. The first one is paying with your bank account, an automatic withdrawal. You have to send an “account transfer request” to the electric company so it can automatically withdraw funds from the account to cover the bill. There is a discount if you decide to pay using this method. The second way of paying is at the convenience store with cash. The electric bill has a barcode on it and you take it to the convenience store where they read the barcode and the customer pays what it owed. The third way is paying with a credit card (including Visa and Mastercard!) via recurring monthly payments. Much like paying with your bank account, you must fill out a credit card payment form to allow the company to process the credit card payment monthly.