Get started building a credit rating
One common problem for people new to a country is their lack of a credit rating. This makes it hard to get loans or apply for credit cards.
I got my first credit card here a couple of years after arriving -a Saison credit card from one of the people getting sign-ups in Seiyu supermarkets.
I'm not sure why they accepted me (was hearing a lot of stories of people getting turned down flat around that time), but I suspect that my motorbike loan and mobile phone plan helped, as well as having my fiance sign on as guarantor.
Once I had that card, when I got into air miles and hotel points I applied for (and got) a lot of high-level (gold and platinum) cards. I don't recall ever being turned down -they were happy to take my money for the annual fees ;)
So what can you do to build your credit rating? The main thing is to start paying for things in your name. Household bills, insurance, mobile phone plans (paying for phones in installments helps, as it is classed as a loan), taking out personal loans. It's really important not to miss or be late with payments.
The longer you have been paying for things, the better and more solid your credit rating.
Another way to get started, and to enjoy the convenience of having a credit card, might be to get a prepaid card. It should be easier to get approved with a weaker credit rating. I heard about one such card from Shinsei Bank on Reddit last week.
I like Shinsei and use them as my main bank. Their Gaica card allows you to charge it from your bank account then use it like a normal credit card (you need to have a Shinsei bank account, but I would recommend that anyway).
Using it domestically in yen seems to be a new service, and is free.
Using it abroad in yen or foreign currencies incurs a fee (3.5% to charge the card with foreign currencies or 4% exchange fee for payments abroad in yen).
My take on the card is that it might be a good option if you are having trouble getting a normal credit card or don't trust yourself to use a credit card responsibly.
Anyone have this or a similar prepaid card? How are you finding it?