Photo/IllutrationStarting from October, Suica users can earn points by riding trains operated by East Japan Railway Co. (Provided by East Japan Railway Co.)

  • Photo/Illustraion

Suica card users can soon earn points for riding the rails, a system modeled after ubiquitous air miles programs.

Starting in October, commuters who hold an East Japan Railway Co. smart card or Mobile Suica will be able to collect points each time they pass through a ticket gate or purchase a Green Car (upgraded seat) ticket in JR East's jurisdiction, the railway operator said Sept. 3.

Eligible Suica cards must be registered to the user with personal information, including name and date of birth.

The user then needs to sign up to be a "JRE Point" member and register the Suica number.

Points will be calculated based on the fare, with IC cards earning 0.5 percent of the fare and mobile Suica holders earning 2 percent.

When the train enters a route operated by a different railway company or the trip involves other JR jurisdictions, only the JR East section of the line traveled will be included in the point conversion system.

Akin to mileage programs for airlines, accumulated JRE points--with 1 point equivalent to 1 yen (0.9 cents)--can be used to recharge the IC card or shop at participating stores.

Starting next spring, Suica users can also earn points when they ride on a Shinkansen bullet train in the Kanto region.

JR East plans to expand the program further in or after spring 2021, allowing them to use earned points for a Shinkansen ride or an upgrade to Green Car or Gran Class (first class service).