Korean Air Credit Card Review: Is The Promotion a Bad Deal?

Korean Air planeU.S. Bank offers the Korean Air SkyPass credit cards in a few different flavors.

Here are the advantages and disadvantages for each promotion:

Korean Air SKYPASS Visa Signature card ($80 annual fee)

This is their most popular offer and here’s an overview:

  • Rewards: Normally you will be earning 1 mile per dollar spent. The one exception is purchases of Korean Air tickets, which earn 2 miles per dollar. The current sign-up bonus they’re running is 15,000 miles after your first purchase.
  • Airline Benefits: There are a couple benefits for the airline. First of all, there are two VIP lounge coupons given per year. Secondly, a bonus of 2,000 miles is given for renewing the credit card each year.
  • Other Benefits: Because this is a Visa Signature card, it comes with some additional benefits such as a phone concierge hotline, travel accident insurance (Common Carrier travel only) and no preset spending limit. If you aren’t familiar with these benefits, you can read about the Visa Signature benefits here.
  • No foreign transaction fees: Because you’re using this card to travel abroad, you’ll be happy to know that the card charges no fees on purchases made overseas. It’s the only card in the SKYPASS card line that waives them.
  • EMV: This card includes an EMV chip, which may be necessary abroad — and will add transactional security when EMV is fully deployed in the U.S.

Korean Air SKYPASS Visa Classic Card ($50 annual fee)

This is a lower-tier Visa card. It has a lower annual fee, but with that comes lower rewards and fewer benefits.

  • Rewards: 1 mile per dollar. The difference with this one is you do not get 2 miles per dollar on Korean Air ticket purchases. You also get 5,000 miles after your first purchase.
  • Airline Benefits: There is a renewal bonus each year of 1,000 miles (instead of the 2,000 miles you get with the Korean Air Visa Signature).
  • Other Benefits: Since this is not a Visa Signature, you get only average cardholder benefits.
  • EMV chip

Korean Air SkyBlue SKYPASS Visa Card (no annual fee)

This is a newer version from Korean Air that doesn’t charge an annual fee.

  • Rewards: 1 mile per $2 spent (so you are earning half the amount of miles), compared to the other cards. You still get 5,000 bonus miles after your first purchase, however.
  • Airline Benefits: No special benefits.
  • Other Benefits: Like the card above, the perks you get with the SkyBlue SKYPASS are just average.

There are also two less-common offers

  • For those with bad credit scores, there is a Korean Air secured credit card. It has a $50 annual fee and offers the same rewards as the SKYPASS Classic Visa. Your must put up a security deposit between $300 and $5,000 for your application to be approved.
  • For those who want a card for their company, the Korean Air business credit card is an option. It has a $75 annual fee and gives the same rewards and benefits as the first card (including the EMV chip), with the exception of the Visa Signature perks and the bonus (the business version offers 10,000 miles after your first purchase).

Should you get one or not?

The rewards on the Visa Signature and Business card are respectable. The rest see a significant drop-off in rewards — plus, you’ll get hit with foreign transaction fees.

There is one unique benefit to consider: All of their cards offer bilingual customer support and account access. So if you are proficient only in Korean, then it would be a wise choice to get one of their cards.

An alternative option

As with all airline cards, these are most rewarding to those who fly the co-branded airline frequently. The cards aren’t that flexible, when it comes to using your rewards elsewhere.

So consider a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Why? Because it allows you to convert points to miles on Korean Air miles on a 1-to-1 basis OR redeem them in many other ways, from cash back to travel on other airlines. Plus you earn 2 points per dollar on travel and dining purchases and there are no foreign transaction fees.

Go here to learn more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred. It is also a Visa Signature card and has a great sign-up offer:

Last updated Sept. 19, 2014

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The-Korean Air SKYPASS Visa Signature card does not charge foreign transaction fees now, as stated on their website and the application department also told me.

Found your site on search after looking into the cards. I’m not Korean, but I like to fly the airline. =) Wanted to point out that the Visa Signature card now offers no Foreign transaction fees now according to their website.