BumblebeeMum
Renting ETC / HEP card in Hokkaido
Renting ETC / HEP card in Hokkaido

Meaning to say that when I rent the car I should address the company I need th ETC Unit and the ETC card. They may require me to top up the value for the ETC card right? What if I use up the credit in the card how do I top up the credit into the card? Where can I do it?

This is my itinerary:
Day 01 28/7 Thu: Depart from KL to CTS. Chitose to Sapporo is 1hr by train
Day 02 29/7 Fri: CTS – Lake Shikotsu – Noboribetsu (Noboribetsu, 1 night)
Day 03 30/7 Sat: Noboribetsu – Lake Toya (Lake Toya, 1 night)
Day 04 31/7 Sun: Lake Toya – Sapporo (Sapporo, 1 night)
Day 05 01/8 Mon: Sapporo (Day trip to Otaru) (Sapporo, 1 night)
Day 06 02/8 Tue: Sapporo (Sapporo, 1 night)
Day 07 03/8 Wed: Sapporo – Asahikawa (Asahikawa, 1 night)
Day 08 04/8 Thu: Asahikawa – Abashiri (Abashiri, 1 night)
Day 09 05/8 Fri: Abashiri – Shiretoko (Shiretoko, 1 night)
Day 10 06/8 Sat: Shiretoko (Shiretoko, 1 night)
Day 11 07/8 Sun: Shiretoko – Lake Akan (Lake Akan, 1 night)
Day 12 08/8 Mon: Lake Akan – Furano (Furano, 1 night)
Day 13 09/8 Tue: Furano (Furano, 1 night)
Day 14 10/8 Wed: Furano (Day trip to Biei) (Furano, 1 night)
Day 15 11/8 Thu: Furano – CTS (Chitose, 1 night)
Day 16 12/8 Fri: CTS back to KL

For going to such places, do you think worth to get HEP? By looking at the Applicable Sections for the HEP from their website http://www.driveplaza.com/trip/drawari/hokkaido_expass/en.html it doesn’t cover my Day 09 onwards (7 days), just could like to double confirm with you base on my understanding.

How about your previous experience? Did you pay cash, use normal ETC Card with credit or the pass HEP?

Thank you.

By eco on May 31, 2016

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33 Comments

  • JJ says:

    Hi Bumblebee mum,

    1. May I know how did u manage to join Times car rental membership as they require a Japan residential address to register as member ( hotel address is not allowed).
    As I read through your blog, there are only member promotion discount for car rental campaign indicated on the Japanese website.
    Currently, there’s no 20% discount for foreign nationality. 🙁

    2. Should I email the car rental company for ETC card rental after i have made booking?

    3. 2 adults + 1 child + 2 luggage + car seat can choose C1G class?

    Thank you.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      1. Ummm.. I didn’t join in the end because they had the 20% discount for foreign nationalities when I used them. Maybe they don’t allow foreigners to sign up for their membership then. 🙁

      2. For TIMES, yes, you have to make a request for the ETC card only after you have made the booking:
      http://www.timescar-rental.com/beginner/etc/etccard.html
      (Scroll down to ‘How to make a reservation’)

      3. Should be okay since you can put one of the luggage in the back seat.

      3.

  • eco says:

    Meaning to say that when I rent the car I should address the company I need th ETC Unit and the ETC card. They may require me to top up the value for the ETC card right? What if I use up the credit in the card how do I top up the credit into the card? Where can I do it?

    This is my itinerary:
    Day 01 28/7 Thu: Depart from KL to CTS. Chitose to Sapporo is 1hr by train
    Day 02 29/7 Fri: CTS – Lake Shikotsu – Noboribetsu (Noboribetsu, 1 night)
    Day 03 30/7 Sat: Noboribetsu – Lake Toya (Lake Toya, 1 night)
    Day 04 31/7 Sun: Lake Toya – Sapporo (Sapporo, 1 night)
    Day 05 01/8 Mon: Sapporo (Day trip to Otaru) (Sapporo, 1 night)
    Day 06 02/8 Tue: Sapporo (Sapporo, 1 night)
    Day 07 03/8 Wed: Sapporo – Asahikawa (Asahikawa, 1 night)
    Day 08 04/8 Thu: Asahikawa – Abashiri (Abashiri, 1 night)
    Day 09 05/8 Fri: Abashiri – Shiretoko (Shiretoko, 1 night)
    Day 10 06/8 Sat: Shiretoko (Shiretoko, 1 night)
    Day 11 07/8 Sun: Shiretoko – Lake Akan (Lake Akan, 1 night)
    Day 12 08/8 Mon: Lake Akan – Furano (Furano, 1 night)
    Day 13 09/8 Tue: Furano (Furano, 1 night)
    Day 14 10/8 Wed: Furano (Day trip to Biei) (Furano, 1 night)
    Day 15 11/8 Thu: Furano – CTS (Chitose, 1 night)
    Day 16 12/8 Fri: CTS back to KL

    For going to such places, do you think worth to get HEP? By looking at the Applicable Sections for the HEP from their website http://www.driveplaza.com/trip/drawari/hokkaido_expass/en.html it doesn’t cover my Day 09 onwards (7 days), just could like to double confirm with you base on my understanding.

    How about your previous experience? Did you pay cash, use normal ETC Card with credit or the pass HEP?

    Thank you.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      The ETC card procedure differs from company to company. Ideally, the company will not ask for a deposit beforehand and only ask you to pay the toll fees you incurred at the end of the trip when you return the car. Usually, there is a rental fee (on top of the toll fees) involved which fluctuates between companies, so you need to ask the car company how much their rental fee is. If the rental fee is a lot, the savings that the ETC gives you may not justify paying for the rental of the ETC card, especially when you don’t use the toll road a lot.

      For your case, I don’t think the HEP is necessary. The bulk of your drives is going to be toll free. The drive from CTS to Lake Shikotsu to Noboribetsu to Lake Toya to Sapporo can be done without tolls if you know how to set your GPS to avoid the toll roads:
      http://bumblebeemum.net/2015/07/07/how-to-use-japanese-gps-to-avoid-tollways/

      From Lake Akan to Furano, it is also possible to avoid the toll road by using the route I have marked out on Google map below:
      https://goo.gl/maps/ans64ffuYB72

      The only tolls you won’t avoid are from Sapporo to Otaru and back, Sapporo to Asahikawa and Furano to CTS. The whole area further Northeast from Asahikawa to Shiretoko to Akan National Park is toll free.

      • eco says:

        You are such a wonderful advisor, appreciated and thank you very much expert Bumble Bee Mum!

        I think I will pay CASH 😛

      • eco says:

        When filling up ToCoo car rental online form, I notice there is a column to be filled which is “Drivers License”. Shall we apply our international license to be enabled for the car renting procedure? May I know how did you do that when booking with ToCoo?

        • bumblebeemum says:

          Is it a compulsory field? If it is then you need to apply for your International Driving License first.

          • eco says:

            I read it from the captured screenshot, will have to check it out. When was your last book it from Tocoo? Do you still remember if you need that when book a car via their website?

          • eco says:

            Hello BBM, for Tocoo car rental, i read from here http://www2.tocoo.jp/en/contents/faq#G to pick up the car we shall take the shuttle to the outlet, base from your experience how far the outlet from Chitose Airport?

            Flight will be landed at 8:20am. We plan to eat some food before take the shuttle to the outlet, our pick up time is 12noon. Is it sufficient time? Where was the exact location in the airport you wait for their shuttle bus? How long it takes to get there? Thanks

            • bumblebeemum says:

              For all car rentals from New Chitose Airport, you will be required to take a shuttle from the airport to the car rental outlet. Different car rental companies have different frequencies for their shuttle services, but I would say to allocate 30min to get from the airport to the car rental outlet. Which company are you using and do they have a desk at New Chitose Airport? If they have a desk, I suggest you go to the desk at 11.30am to request for the shuttle and you should arrive at about 12noon.

              • eco says:

                Rented from Tocoo

                Pick up Outlet:Nissan Car Rental New-Chitose Airport
                     〒066-0013 Hokkaido2-2-5 Kashiwadai Minami, Chitose-shi

          • eco says:

            on the last day we plan to return the car at 9pm. But the website no information on the outlet business hour, how can we check this information?

            • bumblebeemum says:

              You need to check with the car rental company whether they are open till so late. Many car rental offices near CTS close by 8pm, with their last shuttle leaving for CTS at maybe 7.45pm. The reason being there are hardly any flights out of CTS at night. The bigger companies may open later, but you need to check with the company you are renting from.

  • Ling says:

    Thanks for the detailed write up! May I know if I can do without HEP if my places are new chitose-shintoku-furano-biei-asahikawa-Sapporo?
    I m hoping to rent my car from airport and return at Sapporo.
    Cheers,
    Khookie

    • bumblebeemum says:

      If you pick up the car at the airport and return it to Sapporo, you cannot get the HEP. You will only be using the toll way twice: From CTS to Shintoku and from Asahikawa to Sapporo.

      • Avelyn Lew says:

        Really enjoyed your write-up on your Hokkaido driving adventures. We made 2 trips this year for the snow festival & sakura viewing end April. Both times we rented a car and we were able to return them to different places (1st – Hakodate, 2nd time in Susukino) from where we picked them up which was New Chitose Airport. May I know have they changed the policy whereby we can only get the HEP if pick up drop off must be of same place? Thanks !

        • bumblebeemum says:

          One-way rentals are really convenient for Hokkaido travel I must say. As far as I know, HEP requires the car to be returned to the same office it was picked up from. I went to read the terms and conditions on the HEP website again:
          http://www.driveplaza.com/trip/drawari/hokkaido_expass/pdf/policy_en.pdf

          Under ‘Usage Instructions’ point (5), it says “At the end of the trip, the customer shall return the Designated Rentacar and Designated ETC Card to the Designated Car Rental Company”.

          Real bummer, I know. 🙁

          • Avelyn Lew says:

            Hi again,

            Yes…it would be much convenient. Perhaps you can try check out Nippon rent-a-car Hokkaido. I rented with them and had no problem with different drop offs.
            Hope this will help you when you go Hokkaido again which I’m pretty sure you will. 😉

            • bumblebeemum says:

              It’s always a trade-off between price and service I feel. Generally the bigger companies like Toyota and Nippon deal better with foreigners and give non-Japanese speaking travellers a greater piece of mind. Also, the bigger companies have more branches throughout Hokkaido and are hence able to offer more flexibility in terms drop-off options. But they will cost more than the smaller companies.

              The smaller companies can be crazy cheap, but they may only be able to converse in Japanese and unable to understand special requests or explain terms & conditions clearly. And they may not have the capacity to offer drop-off at different locations because they don’t have that many locations to begin with. Oh well.. Can’t have the best of both worlds.

      • Donna says:

        Hi,

        My family and I are going to Hokkaido next week. We are planning to rent a car for 4 days, travelling to Hakodate, Otaru, Furano and Asahikawa. I am a little bit unsure about the HEP. Do we need a HEP if we are travelling from Niseko to these places?

        Also, if I buy the 4 days HEP concession of 6020 Yen, means it is fixed for all 4 days right?

        Appreciate your reply.

        Thanks,
        Donna

        • Queen Bee says:

          What’s your itinerary like? How do you travel to Hakodate, Otaru, Furano, Asahikawa in 4 days and how does Niseko come into the picture?

          A 4-days HEP means unlimited use of the HEP for 4 calendar dates.

  • Daphne says:

    Hi, thank you for such an informative post!

    I recently just learned about the HEP and bcos I’m travelling around Hokkaido from 14th to 24th July, the HEP will be a better saver for me.

    However, the car company I rented my car from (world net rent-a-car) does not provide HEP purchase. As such, I’m unsure how can I get the HEP in this way. Is it possible to obtain HEP from anothe car company and then use it on the car I have rented from world net?

    Appreciate your assistance!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      That’s really one of the downside of HEP: You must rent the car from one of the handling companies. So if you are renting the car from World Net and World Net is not a HEP handling company, then you CANNOT get a HEP.

    • PRL says:

      Hi Daphne,

      Can I check if you rent from world net rent a car in the end? how did u resolve the HEP?

      I am searching for car rental in TCOO site under their HEP unlimited campaign. And world net rent a car came out from the search for HEP campaign and their prices is very good. Wonder if ok to proceed.

      • bumblebeemum says:

        World Net is now in the list of offices offering HEP:
        http://www.driveplaza.com/trip/drawari/hokkaido_expass/shoplist_en.html

        So you should be able to get the HEP from them if you rent the car from them.

        • PRL says:

          Hi BBM, thank you for the reply! their price is very attravtive Should be fine to rent from them? about $10K yen different with other car rental company..

          • bumblebeemum says:

            The only problem when I rented from them last year was that their staff didn’t speak English. So it can be a bit tricky if you have never rented a car from Japan before and don’t speak Japanese. Usually for first-timers who don’t speak Japanese, I recommend them to get from companies with good English support to familiarize themselves with car rental procedures and driving in Japan. So that they can explain to you how insurance works, how the navigation system works, how ETC cards work, how to top up petrol, how to return the car etc. When you’re familiar and don’t really need much guidance from the rental company, and all you really need is to get a car and drive off, then you can explore the smaller (and usually cheaper) companies in spite of their lack of English language support.

  • Zala says:

    Hi bumblebeemum,

    you have a great site on Hokkaido coverage! Its such a shame that I only saw this site so late. (I am going to in 1st week of August).

    I have 2 questions:

    1) I am heading from Tokyo to Hokkaido, just to try the new shinkansen open March this year. When I reach, Hakodate will be renting a car and end the trip in Saporo. (10 days in total)

    Is it true if my pick up location and return location is different, I cannot get HEP?
    Will I save a lot if I use HEP?

    Hakodate > Lake Toya > Furano > Otaru > Saporo

    2) Your post on Hokkaido food is definitely helpful. I will avoid Sankaku Market thanks to your heads up ! Are the places you go, only suitable for locals or foreigners who are able to converse in Japanese? Sadly my group nobody knows Japanese 🙁 I have heard of non-Japanese getting treated differently or not allowed through the door.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      1) Yes, if you pick up from one location and return another location, you cannot get the HEP.

      2) Most of the restaurants in major cities like the ones you are visiting get a lot of foreign visitors. Even if you can’t speak Japanese, they will try their best. Japanese do not discriminate between locals and foreigners. Which is why I love visiting Japan so much! 🙂 The only times they get unfriendly towards foreigners is when we break their social taboos. As long as you are polite and considerate like the Japanese (don’t talk loudly, don’t mess up the tables, don’t dirty their restaurant etc.), they will be very nice to you.

  • Mable says:

    Hi BBM,

    I would like to check for the HEP u mention if we wanna rent we can only lend and return the car to the same location right?

    Meaning if i were to pick up at CTS airport i cant return at Sapporo brand?

    🙂

  • WOEI YUH YAN says:

    Hi bumblebee mum, thanks for your long detailed post about hokkaido, it really helps to save a lot of money using your budget! I am going to hokkaido in Oct and will rent car for 5 days outside Sapporo. Using your link to worldnet car rental, the rental is only SGD 14500. we intend to rent HEP for the tolls as it seems cheaper and hasslefree, but looks like worldnet car rental is not one of the participating office. Do you know if we can rent car from worldnet car rental and rent the HEP in any of the participating offices? Thanks a lot and look forward to your response!

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