It doesn’t take much time in Japan to determine that the Japanese love having incentives for purchasing stuff. After all isn’t it more fun to spent money when you know that you’re earning points that can get you something super cool!? There are literally thousands of incentive programs throughout Japan. Some are a “buy 10 coffees get 1 free” type of deal whereas others are along the lines of “spend ¥1000 and get 10 points to use as cash at our online store”. In this post we’re going to talk about one of these incentive programs which is called Ponta.
You’re probably already semi-familiar with Ponta even though you don’t realize it. Have you ever seen this little orange raccoon?
This is the mascot for Ponta and can be found at various locations where you can earn Ponta Points or use your card to acquire goods. Here in Okinawa you’re most likely to see this little guy at Lawson Station, however, he is found at some other locations as well to include Shell, GEO and KFC.
What is Ponta:
Simply put Ponta is an incentive program used when making purchases at various locations around Japan. The more money that you spend at the participating locations, the more points you earn. Over time you will accumulate points which can then either be redeemed for items at participating locations or goods offered on the Ponta website.
How it works:
The first step is to get a Ponta card. You can do this by going to your local “Ponta Point Terminal”. If you’re in Okinawa the most readily available “Ponta Point Terminal” is Lawson Station. There you can find a Ponta Card registration form.
Once your card has been registered you can start to earn points. To earn points simply present your Ponta card when making purchases at participating locations. Here in Okinawa this would be Pizza Hut, Konami Sports Club, KFC, Shell, GEO and of course Lawson Station. Your card will then be scanned, prior to payment, and points will be earned.
What do points do:
Ponta points can be used in different ways. The first is to obtain coupons through the Loppi machine located at Lawson Station locations. In this case 1 point can have a value of ¥1 when shopping at partner stores. The second is to use the points to redeem them for various items available on the Ponta website. This could be anything from boxes of fresh fruit to toys to kitchen items.
How do I get a ponta card:
First and foremost you’re going to need one of these:
You can find these at various locations, however for those of you in Okinawa your best bet is to head to a Lawson Station. Keep an eye out, they may be by the register or as I have seen many times at the end of aisles.
The inside will look a little something like this:
This packet includes a Ponta card and a form that you must fill out. The form is in Japanese and must be filled out in Japanese so you may want to ask a Japanese friend to help you or with a little bit of effort you can do it on your own.
Carefully fill out the form. NOTE: You must put a Japanese address. If you are living on base I do not believe that you have the option of applying for this card. Once you have filled out the entire form it’s then time to send it off. You can do this be detaching the post card section along the perforated line. (I have marked in green below.) Once you have detached the post card section don’t forget to remove your Ponta card and put it in a safe place.
Now, follow the simple instructions on the bottom right hand site of the post card to prepare and seal it. Once that’s all done you will need to mail the post card which can conveniently be done at your local Lawson Station.
How do I keep track of points:
Keeping track of the points that you’ve earned is easy. All you have to do is visit the Ponta (Japanese only) website and make an account. You will do this by using the Ponta ID and code both available on the back of your Ponta card. Once you have created your account you will see the number of points you have available on the right hand side of the screen. Navigating through the website will show you all of the fun items available as well as any other deals which may be happening.
The down side and what you should consider:
There is no doubt that having a Ponta card is beneficial and since it’s free you don’t have much to lose. However, there are some things that you want to consider before going through the process to get a Ponta card. First as I mentioned you need to have a Japanese address. If you do not (i.e. living on base) you will run into more problems then simply filling out the form. You also want to consider that this is a service which was not designed with English speakers in mind. This means that everything is in Japanese. This does not make it impossible to use the service, even if your Japanese is limited but it does mean that you will have to go through a bit more work getting various items translated so that you can understand them. If that seems like too much work for you then maybe a Ponta card is not a good idea.
At the end of the day this is a great way to earn some free stuff while spending money that you would have spent anyway.