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Korean Air SKYPASS Visa Classic Pros
- Helps qualify and maintain Morning Calm Club Membership
- EMV Chip & Signature Credit Card
- Korean Air miles can be used with SkyTeam partner airlines
Korean Air SKYPASS Visa Classic Cons
- Bonuses and benefits not competitive with other travel credit cards
- Foreign transaction fee of 3%
- Flat mile accumulation accross all spending categories
The Korean Air SKYPASS Visa Classic credit card, offered by US Bank – is a travel card associated with Korean Air. This Visa card is underwhelming when it comes to the benefits it offers, making it a card that is worthwhile only for a small subsection of customers interested in Morning Calm membership and who do not accumulate enough miles to take advantage of the program. The SKYPASS Visa Classic also features chip technology, making it useful to those who plan to use their card abroad (but at a 3% cost).
The major benefit of the Korean Air SKYPASS Visa Classic card comes from its ability to help cardholders reach and maintain Morning Calm Club Membership. This membership offers perks and benefits to those Korean Air frequent flyers. How much you value Morning Calm Club membership directly impacts whether this credit card is worth the effort of getting. The additional help is beneficial to a very specific case of flyers who will take a short domestic flight once a year. A single international flight is sufficient to receive Morning Calm Club Membership. Outside of that, if you take one international or long-distance domestic flight using Korean Air every two years, qualifying for Morning Calm Club Membership should be easy even without the SKYPASS Classic credit card.
The SKYPASS Visa Classic falls short in nearly all other benefits categories when compared to other travel credit cards on the market. With most specific-use cards, the recommendation is usually to keep the card as a secondary card to be used to take advantage of whatever benefit makes it stand out. However, in order to take advantage of the aforementioned Morning Calm benefit, a cardholder needs to spend money on the card for general purposes – if you plan on doing that, there are better options out there which will give you more valuable benefits for each dollar spent. To find out how this Korean Air credit card stacks up against other travel cards, look to our comparisons below.
As is the case with a majority of airline cards, SKYPASS miles can be spent on travel and upgrades. These benefits are limited to Korean Air and SkyTeam partner airlines. It might take a while to be able to use these miles, depending on a consumer's spending patterns. The SKYPASS Visa Classic accumulates miles at a rather slow rate. You receive 1 mile for each $1 you spend, regardless of spending category. This is yet another way in which the SKYPASS Visa Classic falls short. Better travel cards will usually offer incentives to spending a certain way. For example, some airline credit cards will offer 2x the miles on tickets purchased through that particular airline. While the classic verison of this Korean Air credit card doesn’t offer double miles to cardholders, the premium version does (SKYPASS Visa Signature).
Finally, there is one additional feature worth talking about. As mentioned above, the Korean Air SKYPASS Visa Classic comes fully prepared for international travel. The card has an EMV chip, which is essential to anyone who plans to make purchases outside of the United States. EMV-enabled cards come in many variations, and luckily for those who travel frequently to South Korea, the version used by SKYPASS Visa Classic is widely accepted there. This feature is by no means unique. There are many credit cards which support chip technology offered by US institutions, therefore it should not be the sole driving factor behind a decision to apply for this card.
When it comes to benefits and features, the Korean Air SKYPASS Visa Classic is straightforward and simple. Cardholders collect 1 SKYPASS mile for each $1 they spend using this credit card. These miles can then be redeemed with Korean Air or SkyTeam partner airlines. There are no additional features, such as statement credits, which you often get with other travel credit cards.
The first time you make a purchase with this SKYPASS credit card, you receive 5,000 bonus miles – the value of these miles is on average $51.50 if redeemed for a flight. Each time you renew your card you receive another 1,000 bonus miles, worth an additional $10. In order to better understand the value of miles and the rewards rate you can expect with this Korean Air credit card, look to the SKYPASS Miles section below.
Through some basic analysis, we were able to extract the value of a SKYPASS mile earned through this Visa credit card. We did so by looking at airfare costs (both in miles and dollars) of flights spanning various dates. Our findings showed that there is a large amount of variation. Depending on the date and route, SKYPASS miles can be worth anywhere between 1.6 cents to as low as 0.5 cent. On average, we found the value to be 1 cent – meaning that for every dollar you spend using the SKYPASS Visa Classic you will be earning back 1 cent, as long as you are redeeming the miles for value.
Below is a table showing a sampling of the flights we looked at for our study. All flights studied were sourced and booked through Korean Air. This is because other benefits associated with the card rely on the use of Korean Air.
|Korean Air Flight||Depart||Return||Miles||USD||Cents / Mile|
|Chicago to Seoul: ORD to ICN||12/31/14||1/22/15||70,000||1,129.5||1.6|
|Las Vegas to Seoul: LAS to ICN||1/21/15||1/30/15||70,000||947.5||1.35|
|New York to Busan: JFK to PUS||1/22/15||1/31/15||80,000||1,287.5||1.6|
|Houston to Bejing: IAH to PEK||1/27/15||2/3/15||70,000||656||.9|
|San Francisco to Daegu: SFO to TAE||1/30/15||2/8/15||125,000||682.5||.5|
|Los Angeles to Seoul: LAX to ICN||2/9/15||2/19/15||87,500||739.5||.84|
|Seoul to Seattle: ICN to SEA||2/17/15||2/25/15||87,500||651.81||.74|
|Kansai to Gimpo: KIX to GMP||1/14/15||1/21/15||30,000||150.66||.5|
The SKYPASS Visa Classic helps cardholders reach and maintain Morning Calm Membership – a program which offers benefits to frequent Korean Air Customers. There are limitations to this benefit, however. To become a member, a consumer needs to accumulate 50,000 miles with Korean Air. Only 20,000 miles from credit card purchases on the Korean Air SKYPASS Classic can be counted towards the grand total of 50,000, however. As long as the consumer intends to spend $20,000 with the card, this can essentially be thought of as a 40% contribution towards Morning Calm Membership.
Membership only lasts two years. During those two years, a member must accumulate another 30,000 miles in order to renew their membership for another two years. Of those 10,000 miles from the SKYPASS Visa Classic can be used towards satisfying the renewal requirement.
Morning Calm Benefits
- Priority check-in on Korean Air
- 1 additional allowed baggage on economy class flights from the Americas
- Priorty baggage handling on Korean Air flights
- Access to Korean Air Prestige Class Lounge (limt of 4 times per 2 yearperiod)
Those who find themselves frequently abroad will be pleased to know the SKYPASS Visa Classic comes equipped with an EMV chip. The technology which this credit card utilizes is referred to as Chip and Signature. The card will work with most vendors in South Korea. However, when traveling to other countries, especially Europe, problems with using the card may arise – many countries rely on a more popular format called Chip and Pin. For a clearer understanding of EMV chip credit cards, refer to our guide here.
Note that when travelling abroad, the SKYPASS Visa Classic charges a 3% foreign transaction fee anytime you use the card outside of the United States.
As mentioned in the review, the SKYPASS Visa Classic is not the best choice when choosing a travel rewards credit card. Other financial institutions' credit cards offer better benefits with greater flexibility of use. To better understand other existing options we compared the SKYPASS Visa Classic to cards with a similar purpose.
Korean Air SKYPASS Visa Classic vs SKYPASS Visa Signature
US Bank offers a more premium version of its SKYPASS credit card called the SKYPASS Visa Signature. This card offers some added benefits over the standard edition for an additional $30 in annual fees. The SKYPASS Visa Signature credit card gives cardholders 15,000 bonus miles with their first purchase – that is 3 times as much as the SKYPASS Visa Classic bonus. If all those points are redeemed, they cover almost two years’ worth of annual fees.
The SKYPASS Visa Signature also provides rewards for brand loyalty the SKYPASS Visa Classic lacks. Signature cardholders earn miles at twice the rate when making purchases with Korean Air. The more subtle, but important, benefit of the SKYPASS Visa Signature card comes from its elimination of foreign transaction fees. For customers who charge at least $1,000 to their card when travelling abroad per year, the difference in annual fees between the two cards is covered.
SKYPASS Visa Classic vs Citi® / AAdvantage® Gold World Elite™ Mastercard®
If we compare the SKYPASS Visa Classic to a card in a similar tier, such as the Citi® / AAdvantage® Gold World Elite™ Mastercard®, the clear contender is the Citi® / AAdvantage® Gold World Elite™ Mastercard®. Both cards charge the same annual fee of $50 (the Citi® / AAdvantage® Gold World Elite™ Mastercard® waives this fee the first year). Both cards also support EMV technology, making them great cards to use abroad – provided you don’t mind the 3% foreign transaction fee, which tends to only be waived for cards with higher annual fees. If a consumer feels no loyalty to either airline in particular and is looking to travel in general then the Citi® / AAdvantage® Gold World Elite™ Mastercard® (and its premium variation, the Citi Platinum) offer better benefits and bonuses than the SKYPASS Visa Classic.
With a 2.3% rewards rate, each dollar spent with the Citi® / AAdvantage® Gold World Elite™ Mastercard® provides a greater return on purchases. This rate is a lot better when compared to SKYPASS Visa Classic’s average of 1%.
Additionally, there are some features that reward loyalty to American Airlines - which is always a nice touch to credit cards associated with an airline. Cardholders receive a 25% discount on eligible in-flight food, as well as greater rewards rates on select roundtrip flights with AA. The SKYPASS Visa Classic does not offer any such loyalty benefits.
SKYPASS Visa Classic vs Barclays Arrival™ World MasterCard®
This one isn’t even a fair fight. Unless a consumer really cares about the Morning Calm membership assistance, there is no reason to prefer the SKYPASS Visa Classic to the Barclays Arrival™ World MasterCard®. With no annual fee the Barclays card has no upkeep costs. On top of this, the MasterCard offers superior bonuses.
Before considering anything else, it’s important to look at the rewards rate. Depending on how you spend using the Barclays Arrival™ World MasterCard® you will earn rewards at 1.05% - 2.1%. This alone makes the Barclays card rewards rate better than that of the SKYPASS Visa Classic. However, there is more. With the Barclays card you are earning points at 2 times the rate when making dining and travel related purchases. This is in comparison to the SKYPASS Visa Classic’s slower 1:1 rate.
Finally, Barclays throws more bonus miles at cardholders than the SKYPASS Visa Classic. For signing up, you receive 20,000 bonus points. With the SKYPASS card you receive 5,000 – plus an additional 1,000 any time you renew. That means you would need to hold onto the Visa Classic for approximately 30 years to receive the equivalent bonus miles to the Barclays Arrival™ World MasterCard®. By then you’d pay $1,500 in annual fees, which is less than cost-efficient.
How do I apply for the card?
To apply visit the US Bank website or call 866-759-7277 ext. 55442
How do I redeem SKYPASS miles?
Upon receiving your SKYPASS Visa Classic, you will be assigned a frequent flyer member number. All purchases made on the credit card will feed files into this account, which you provide when booking a flight or redeeming miles.
Which airlines can I redeem my SKYPASS Miles with?
Other than Korean Air, your SKYPASS miles can be used with any other SkyTeam member airline. To see which airlines are part of the SkyTeam alliance, look to the list below:
- Aerolineas Argentinas
- Air Europa
- Air France
- China Airlines
- China Eastern
- China Southern
- Czech Airlines
- Delta Air Lines
- Garuda Indonesia
- Kenya Airways
- Korean Air
- Middle East Airlines
- Vietnam Airlines