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Disclaimer: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone. For a full list of our advertisers, see our disclosure page.

Opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed here are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed or endorsed by the issuer. We may be compensated through the issuer’s Affiliate Program. For a full list of our advertisers, including American Express, see our disclosure page.

SKYPASS Visa Signature Review: A Korean Air Credit Card for Serious Flyers

Image of Korean Air SKYPASS Visa Signature Credit Card
71
"Beneficial only for gaining Morning Calm Membership."

Contents

The SKYPASS Visa Signature from U.S. Bank is a travel benefits and travel rewards hybrid card, which aims to provide amenities and savings to consumers and passengers flying with Korean Air. In our review of the Korean Air SKYPASS credit card, however, we found that the card’s reward rate was only competitive when passengers use it to buy at least $1,000 worth of Korean air tickets per month, and aspire to Morning Calm Membership, and not much else. Based on its features and benefits, however, it isn't worthwhile to apply for the SKYPASS Visa Signature credit card when compared to the better credit card alternatives for travel rewards that exist. We think this card is a good option for frequent Korean Air flyers, but we recommend that casual and general consumers consider other travel rewards cards that offer users more ways to earn rewards on their overall spending.

The features we like best about the SKYPASS Visa Signature

  • Decent bonus with first purchase
  • Helps reach and maintain Morning Calm Membership

Where we think the SKYPASS Visa Signature falls short compared to other cards

  • Poor overall travel rewards rate for general consumer and casual passengers of Korean Air
  • Not enough benefits to justify high annual fee of $80

Review: Is the SKYPASS Credit Card Good for Korean Air Customers?

As a travel rewards credit card, the U.S. Bank SKYPASS Visa Signature is only beneficial in our opinion to customers spending on average $1,000 or more on Korean Air tickets who can appreciate perks such as VIP lounge access and accelerated attainment of Morning Calm Membership. The reward rates on credit card charges with the SKYPASS Signature version can climb up to 1.5%, which is the same as a decent flat-rate cash back card such as the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card. However, if you find yourself spending that much on travel each month, we recommend that you also consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred because you'll get a higher rewards rate in our calculations. Charging the same amount of money on Korean Air airfare to the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card actually nets consumers a rewards rate of 1.71% in our simulation. Additionally, a card like the Sapphire Preferred can earn you the same rewards rates when you spend on dining at restaurants, increasing your rewards earnings power.

In our opinion, the unique advantage of the SKYPASS VIsa Signature credit card its ability to earn individuals miles more quickly towards Morning Calm membership, and the VIP lounge access. The major benefits are really tailored towards providing rewards for individuals who find themselves frequently sitting in an airport, waiting to board a Korean Air flight. With the spending bonus available in the first 3 months of the card, you can essentially get a 30% discount on the Morning Calm membership, for charging at least $0.01 to the SKYPASS Visa Signature. The SKYPASS Visa Signature signing bonus can only kick in once, however. After that, the SKYPASS benefits slow down, and the $80 annual fee becomes a little harder to swallow. One feature of the SKYPASS Signature is its 2 Korean Air VIP lounge tickets each year. If this is something that frequent flyers feel justifies the annual fee, then this card has good long-term perks.

If you are not a frequent Korean Air customer, we do not recommend this card for you. Moderate spenders and the casual consumer will have a hard time reaching the higher 2% rewards rate. As far as travel rewards earned from general spending, however, this card is unimpressive. As we'll cover below, there are other options that we think will give the general traveler better opportunity to maximize their overall travel rewards from credit card spending.

Korean Air SKYPASS Visa Signature Benefits & Features

As we mentioned in our review, some of the main features of the Visa Signature version of the Korean Air SKYPASS are its Morning Calm Membership help, the VIP lounge tickets, and the bonus miles. In this section, we delve more into the card's properties and present analysis supporting some of our conclusions.

Rewards Rate and Value of the SKYPASS Visa Signature Card

Understanding the rewards structure of the SKYPASS credit card aids us in understanding the card’s shortcomings for the general consumer. The U.S. Bank's Visa Signature version of the Korean Air credit card earns users SKYPASS miles, which can be redeemed with Korean Airlines for flights to all of their destinations as well as with SkyTeam partner airlines. We researched the value of these miles by analyzing the ticket costs of various flights and weighing them against the cost of those same flights with SKYPASS miles. We found that, on average, SKYPASS miles are worth $0.01. Below is a sample of our data.

Korean Air Flight Depart Return  Miles USD Cents / Mile
Chicago to Seoul: ORD to ICN 12/31/2014 1/22/2015 70,000 1,130 1.60
Las Vegas to Seoul: LAS to ICN 1/21/2015 1/30/2015 70,000 948 1.35
New York to Busan: JFK to PUS 1/22/2015 1/31/2015 80,000 1,288 1.60
Houston to Beijing: IAH to PEK 1/27/2015 2/3/2015 70,000 656 0.90
San Francisco to Daegu: SFO to TAE 1/30/2015 2/8/2015 125,000 683 0.50
Los Angeles to Seoul: LAX to ICN 2/9/2015 2/19/2015 87,500 740 0.84
Seoul to Seattle: ICN to SEA 2/17/2015 2/25/2015 87,500 652 0.74
Kansai to Gimp: KIX to GMP 1/14/2015 1/21/2015 30,000 151 0.50
Average SKYPASS Mile Value 1.00

For each flight, we took the cost in dollars and divided it by the cost in SKYPASS miles, and repeated it across a number of sample itineraries to arrive at our figure of 1 cent per mile. For example, flying from Chicago to Seoul costs $1,129.50 to buy, or 70,000 SKYPASS miles to redeem.

$1,129.50 / 70,000 Miles = $0.016 / 1 Mile = 1.6 cents / mile

By knowing the average cost of a SKYPASS mile, we can begin to understand what kind of rewards values to expect by using the SKYPASS credit card. Spending $1 on Korean Air tickets gets us the most value. We receive for those transactions 2 miles for each $1. We know from our above analysis that those 2 miles are worth 2 cents when redeemed for Korean Air flights. Therefore, when spending in this way we receive 2 cents per $1, which translates into a rewards rate of 2%.

However, this is also dependent on how much you use the SKYPASS credit card for all other categories of spending. Consumers earn 1% back with the Korean Air Visa Signature card when spending in other categories, so someone who uses the credit card to charge both Korean Air tickets and general household expenditures will get a weighted average of the two rewards rate. Things are further complicated, when we scale this spending over a year and consider other properties such as annual fees and bonuses.

Bonus Miles & Morning Calm Membership

SKYPASS credit card users earn bonus miles in two instances. When you make your first purchase using this card you automatically receive 15,000 bonus miles, on average worth $150. Also, every year in which you pay an annual fee, you receive an additional 2,000 SKYPASS miles – the value of which is approximately $20. If redeemed properly, this bonus should on average effectively cut down your annual fee to $60. 

Individuals interested in Morning Calm Club membership may know that in order to qualify, Korean Air flyers need to meet certain qualifications. One of those requirement is accumulating 50,000 miles on Korean Air flights. SKYPASS credit card holders can use the miles they earned through purchases and bonuses towards this requirement. However, the card only helps users get there a certain portion of the way – only 20,000 SKYPASS miles can come from non-flight sources. The second you use your SKYPASS credit card, your signing bonus will kick in and you receive 15,000 points – as mentioned in the review, that’s 30% of the way towards Morning Calm Club membership, for spending as little as $0.01! The rest of the miles requirement, unfortunately, will have to come through hard-earned travel on Korean Air. 

Smart Chip 

The EMV smart chip, which comes on the SKYPASS credit card, serves a twofold purpose. First, it offers users added protection from being victims of credit card fraud over old magnetic strip cards. Secondly, consumers who plan on using credit cards abroad will find that non-EMV cards are not widely accepted. Smart chips on credit cards are a global standard which is used throughout Europe and Asia. By supporting this technology, the SKYPASS credit card is friendlier for those who find themselves frequently abroad.

Another interesting feature on the SKYPASS Visa Signature is that it comes with no preset spending limit. This means that there is no hard credit limit placed on your account – it does not mean your spending is unlimited. Instead, each month, the credit issuer will decide what your limit is based on your payment history, credit score, and a range of other factors. Generally, individuals with a reported income and good credit score are the ones likely to take advantage of this feature as it allows them to make large purchases. Be aware that having no preset spending limit makes improving your credit score using the SKYPASS Visa Signature somewhat more complicated. One of the ways in which your credit score is determined is by analyzing how much of your credit limit you use. However, this metric is ignored by credit reporting agencies such as TransUnion when a card has no preset spending limit. While this doesn't have an adverse impact on your credit score, it can be one less way in which you can help build it.

Korean Air SKYPASS Visa Signature Credit Card Comparisons

How does the SKYPASS Visa Signature compare to other travel cards? One of the best ways to understand the value of an item is to see how it compares to others of its kind. To that end, we took the SKYPASS credit card and matched it up against other cards which offer travel rewards, including some of our top picks for the the best travel rewards cards. Take a look as well at our visualization tool below, which compares and contrasts at a glance the Korean Air credit card and other alternatives we discuss. The tool allows consumers to input their monthly credit card expenditures along different categories to better tailor results to their spending patterns. 

Edit Monthly Spend: $1,430
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Card Annual Fee 2-yr Net Rewards Rate

The Net Rewards Rate is equal to the Rewards Value over two years divided by the total spending. The total spending is equal to the values entered into the tool and multiplied by 24 months. See the Rewards Value note to see details on how it is calculated.

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Bonus Value

The bonus field shows our estimate for the value of the card’s sign-up bonus. If the bonus is point or mile based, we multiply the total bonus points/miles by our estimate for their value to arrive at a dollar equivalent. We display $0 if there is no bonus or if the user doesn’t qualify for the bonus based on the current spending entered into the tool.

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

2-yr Rewards Value

The Rewards Value is calculated by adding together the rewards earned from charging purchases to the card over two years and any sign-up bonuses (if applicable). They are then multiplied by our estimated point/mile value, with any annual fees (if applicable) subtracted. All values are based on our own estimates for the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using a card.

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®
$89 - Waived first year 3.21%
$525
Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days - that's enough to redeem for a $500 travel statement credit
$1,157
Graph Card Read Review More Details
Annual Fee $89 - Waived first year
APR 16.99%, 20.99% or 23.99% Variable

Card Details

  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days — that's enough to redeem for a $500 travel statement credit
  • Earn 2X miles on all purchases
  • Redeem for travel or cash back statement credits, gift cards and merchandise. Redemption values vary
  • Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
  • Miles don't expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
  • No foreign transaction fees on anything you buy while in another country
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on Balance Transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR will apply, 16.99%, 20.99% or 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Please note, there is a fee for balance transfers

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 68,640 x $0.011 = $721
Bonuses
50,000 x $0.011 = $525
Less Annual Fees -$89
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 1,157
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95 2.86%
$625
50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
$1,028
Graph Card Read Review More Details
Annual Fee Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
APR 16.99% - 23.99% Variable

Card Details

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 39,840 x $0.013 = $498
Bonuses
50,000 x $0.013 = $625
Less Annual Fees -$95
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 1,028
Korean Air SKYPASS Visa Signature Credit Card
$80 0.93%
$150
15,000 SKYPASS Bonus Miles after first purchase
$333
Graph Card Read Review More Details
Annual Fee $80
APR 12.99% - 19.99% Variable

Card Details

  • 15,000 SKYPASS Bonus Miles after first purchase
  • 1 mile for every $1 spent in purchases
  • Double Miles on Korean Air ticket purchases
  • Redeem miles for reward travel and upgrades on Korean Air and SkyTeam partners
  • SKYPASS Visa card purchases help you reach and maintain Morning Calm Club Membership
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Travel & Emergency Assistance Services
  • $1,000,000 in Travel Accident Insurance
  • EVM chip technology for added security abroad
  • Free monthly credit score reporting

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 34,320 x $0.01 = $343
Bonuses
15,000 x $0.01 = $150
Less Annual Fees -$160
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 333
Korean Air SKYPASS Visa Classic Card
$50 0.81%
$50
5,000 SKYPASS Bonus Miles after first purchase
$293
Graph Card Read Review More Details
Annual Fee $50
APR 12.99% - 19.99% Variable

Card Details

  • 5,000 SKYPASS Bonus Miles after first purchase
  • 1 mile for every $1 spent in purchases
  • Redeem miles for reward travel and upgrades on Korean Air and SkyTeam partners
  • Redeem miles for reward travel and upgrades on Korean Air and SkyTeam partners
  • SKYPASS Visa card purchases help you reach and maintain Morning Calm Club Membership
  • Free monthly credit score reporting
  • EMV chip technology for added security abroad
  • Visa payWave technology for contactless purchases
  • $250,000 in Travel Accident Insurance
  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 34,320 x $0.01 = $343
Bonuses
5,000 x $0.01 = $50
Less Annual Fees -$100
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 293

SKYPASS Visa Signature vs Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is another amazing travel rewards card. While it costs $15 more per year than the SKYPASS card, the Chase Sapphire makes up for the difference in cost with better bonuses, rewards rates and flexibility. In order to have somewhat competitive rates, SKYPASS cardholders must spend exclusively on Korean Air tickets, and must maintain fairly high spending. With the Chase Sapphire, on the other hand, you receive rewards rates higher than the SKYPASS, when spending on all travel expenses and dining. This provides more rounded rewards, which don’t limit users to one niche case scenario in which they can extract value from the card. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card also comes with a much more valuable signing bonus, worth up to $625. To earn it, cardholders need to spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of receiving their card.

While the Sapphire holds no airline specific benefits, such as VIP lounge access, we find that a majority of consumers will find the other rewards make up for this fact. There is simply more opportunity for rewards on general household spending made with the Chase Sapphire Preferred over the SKYPASS Visa Signature for the typical consumer.

SKYPASS Visa Signature vs Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard

Costing just $9 more per year than the SKYPASS Visa Signature, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus is one of the most rewarding travel credit cards around. It has a far simpler rewards structure than the SKYPASS card, rewarding 2 points per $1 on all purchases. The value of a point with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus varies from $0.005 to $0.0105, depending on the way in which they are redeemed. This leads to rewards rates between 1% and 2.1%. While this range may not seem too different compared to the SKYPASS credit card, we think it is far easier for the everyday consumer to reach the higher end of the rewards rate spectrum with the Barclaycard – this gives the Arrival Plus considerably more value. 

When it comes to bonuses, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus is also more generous. The Barclaycard awards 5% miles back, each time you redeem your rewards. Plus, if you spend $3,000 in 3 months (which is a sum anyone considering the SKYPASS credit card should already be comfortable with spending) you receive 50,000 points, which have a value of up to $500 – more than twice the dollar value of SKYPASS’ signup bonus. 

SKYPASS Visa Signature vs SKYPASS Visa Classic Card

The SKYPASS Visa Classic is yet another Korean Air affiliated credit card from US Bank – choosing between the two cards may be tricky. Both cards have the ability to help a consumer gather SKYPASS miles for Morning Calm membership. For both cards, this is the only benefit worth mentioning, and even then only so if someone values this membership highly. Neither card offers fantastic rewards rates, but the ones on the Visa Classic Card are slightly worse, assuming any amount of spending is going towards Korean Air tickets. If all spending is concentrated to other categories, the SKYPASS Classic comes out ahead, due to a lower annual fee.

The SKYPASS Signature provides higher short-term rewards as well, through the 15,000 mile signing bonus, which is 3x the amount you can receive with the SKYPASS Classic. With a longer time horizon, the SKYPASS Signature also comes out ahead, due to the renewal bonus being twice the value of the SKYPASS Classic’s.

SKYPASS Visa Signature vs Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer

The Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer gives individuals 1% cash back on every dollar spent using the card, regardless of where you do your shopping. When those purchases are paid off, users get another 1% back on top of that. Consumers who value rewards rate above all else, should always prefer the Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer to the SKYPASS Visa Signature card. To use an extreme example, on average, the only way you can match the the Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer on rewards earned on credit card spending is by spending $100,000 per month on Korean Air tickets – we think it’s safe to say very few people fall in that category. The reason behind this disparity in rewards rates arises from the annual fees. While the Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer has none, the SKYPASS Visa Signature costs $80 per year ($60 if you subtract the value you get out of the 2,000 mile renewal bonus). Of course, this simplified view ignores the utility and value that Korean Air passengers may place on the VIP lounge access, but consumers should also consider the value of other non-Korean Air spending that they're missing out on that they would have otherwise been able to earn with theCiti® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer. 

Another important consideration to make is the difference in what exactly the rewards rate translates to between the two cards. With the SKYPASS Visa Signature credit card, you receive value out of your purchases only by redeeming your miles for flights. Consumers are afforded far more flexibility with the Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer, which has no redemption structure – you simply get cash back, allowing you to pick what you do with the money you get back.

While the Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer provides a better rewards rate, it doesn't come with any bells or whistles. There are no bonuses or benefits to having the card. Individuals who care only about having access to Korean Air VIP lounges or Morning Calm Membership will only find those things with the SKYPASS Visa Signature. For moderate spenders however, taking the better rewards rate of the Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer and applying the savings towards more Korean Air flights is ultimately a more cost efficient way of obtaining Morning Calm Membership - provided consumers take at least 2 or more flights with Korean Air per year. 

Bottom Line: Is the SKYPASS Credit Card Worth It?

With so many better options available, we think only a select group of consumers will find the features of the SKYPASS Visa Signature to be worth its price tag of $80 per year. Sub-par rewards rates and limited general use potential make this a hard sell to anyone who is not a loyal Korean Air customer, or frequent business traveler to Korean cities who flies with them multiple times per month. For a better travel rewards card, we recommend either the Barclaycard Arrival Plus or the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Resources for SKYPASS Visa Signature Cardholders

How do I apply for the card?

To apply for the card online visit the US Bank website here https://www.usbank.com/credit-cards/skypass-visa-signature-credit-card.html. To apply by phone call 1 866 759 7277 ext. 55442.

Do I need to have a frequent flyer account prior to signing up for the card?

You can link an existing SKYPASS account if you have one by calling the Bank. If you do not have a frequent flyer account number, one will be assigned to you upon approval of the card application.

Comments and Questions

* See the online credit card application for details about terms and conditions. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. When you click on the "Apply Now" button, you can review the credit card terms and conditions on the issuer's website.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program. 

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Advertiser Disclosure: Some of the offers that appear on this website are from companies which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). The site does not review or include all companies or all available products. For more information please see our Advertiser Disclosure.