Credit Cards Credit Card Reviews

SKYPASS Visa Secured Card Review

overall rating
3.3

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The SKYPASS Visa Secured is a secured card that may allow people with no or poor credit to build a credit profile in the United States while also earning miles that can be used for rewards flights on Korean Air and eligible SkyTeam partner flights, including Delta. In addition to miles rewards, the card offers a number of travel benefits and a bonus opportunity. It carries a $50 annual fee.

SKYPASS Visa® Secured Card

overall rating
3.3
SKYPASS Visa® Secured Card
On U.S. Bank's Secured Site.

Current Offer:

5,000 SKYPASS Bonus Miles after your first purchase.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Poor - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 16.24% variable
Annual Fee $50
Minimum Deposit to Activate $300
Pay deposit in installments No
Allows upgrade to unsecured card Yes
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 1 mile for every $1 you spend in eligible net purchases.
how this card stacks up
When compared among all secured cards in our database:
Secured Features
Security/Customer Experience
Low Interest
Rewards
Benefits
worst best

Currently rated one of our

Full Review of SKYPASS Visa Secured Card

Pros
  • Builds credit while earning miles

  • Possibility to move to an unsecured card

  • Easy-to-earn bonus

Cons
  • $50 annual fee

  • Foreign transaction fees

  • Credit must be secured

Pros Explained

  • Builds Credit While Earning Miles: With the SKYPASS Visa Secured card, you have the ability to build your credit profile and earn miles rewards at the same time. That's a rare combination. While the rewards are modest, at a flat mile (cent) per dollar spent, few airlines offer secured cards with any rewards.
  • Possibility to Move to an Unsecured Card: US Bank, which issues this card, may consider upgrading you to an unsecured card in as little as a year if you've demonstrated responsible management of your credit. While some unsecured cards say they’ll consider such a move in a shorter time, others make no time commitment at all for an upgrade. 
  • Easy-to-Earn Bonus: New cardmembers need only make a single purchase in order to earn the 5,000-mile one-time offer. With each SKYPASS mile worth 1.6 cents, according to our valuation, that bonus is worth $80. In addition, for every year in which you renew your membership and pay the annual fee, you'll receive a bonus of 1,000 SKYPASS miles.

Cons Explained

  • $50 Annual Fee: It's not unusual for a secured card to carry an annual fee. However, this card's $50 cost is relatively high for a secured card, even for one that earns rewards. There are secured cards on the market with no annual fee that also offer rewards.  
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: Despite this card's focus on travel, it charges a 2% to 3% fee for foreign purchases. Since the extra cost of foreign transaction fees can add up quickly on an international trip, the SKYPASS Visa Secured a less-than-ideal companion when traveling abroad.
  • Credit Must Be Secured: Like most secured cards, this card requires you to make a security deposit on your account that acts as your credit limit. Naturally, that limits how much you can buy with this card. Your initial deposit can range between $300 to $5,000, depending on the cash you have available and how large a limit you want on the card.

This Card is Best For

  • Avatar for Rewards Strategist Persona
    Seeks to maximize points or miles earnings across spending categories
    Rewards Strategist
  • Avatar for Credit Builder Persona
    Motivated to create positive credit history
    Credit Builder

The SKYPASS Visa Secured card is best suited to those who seek a single card to both build credit and earn miles for travel. It’s especially useful for expats who haven’t yet established credit in the United States and want to build their travel reward balance while they do so.  

In addition, it’s for people who have some cash in hand, since the card’s credit limit—at least at first—is limited to the amount you can deposit to secure its credit limit.

But since its rewards are issued in miles, this is also a card for those willing and able to wait until they have enough rewards to earn an awards flight—which generally means amassing tens of thousands of miles. While the ticket must be booked through Korean Air, it needn’t necessarily be for a Korean Air flight, since SKYPASS miles can also be used on flights with Korean’s SkyTeam partners, which include Delta, KLM, and Air France. Because of that redemption flexibility, this card also offers value for travelers who frequently fly SkyTeam. 

It’s a useful card as well for international travelers who can benefit from bilingual customer service and 24-hour bilingual account access. 

SKYPASS Visa Secured Card One-Time Offer

After making a purchase with this card, you’ll receive a one-time award of 5,000 bonus miles. It will take 6 to 8 weeks for the miles to be credited to your SKYPASS account. At 1.6 cents per mile, we value the 5,000 miles at $80 when redeemed for airline purchases.

Along with the bonus, card members are awarded an annual renewal bonus of 1,000 miles in 8 to 10 weeks after paying the annual fee. To be eligible for the award, the annual fee must be paid in the month in which it's due.  

Rewards Earning Details

This card’s rewards structure is straightforward: You earn one mile for every dollar you spend on the card. If you spend $5,000 within a year, then, you earn 5,000 miles. There's no limit to the number of miles you can earn. The more you spend, the more you earn.

In order to earn miles, the SKYPASS frequent flyer number connected to the card must be that of the primary cardholder. It needs to be provided within 120 days of opening the account.

Rewards Redemption Details

Miles earned with this card can be redeemed for award travel and upgrades on Korean Air and SkyTeam partners through the SKYPASS program. Leading the list of SkyTeam partners is Delta Air Lines. The other members of the alliance are KLM, Air France, Alitalia, Aeroflot, Aerolíneas Argentinas, Aeromexico, Air Europa, China Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, Czech Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, Kenya Airways, Middle East Airlines, Saudia, TAROM, Vietnam Airlines, and XiamenAir. Beyond the SkyTeam alliance, Korean Air points can also be redeemed for flights on six other carriers, including Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines, provided the flights originate and end within the same country. 

Cardholders can redeem rewards through the Korean Air website, a service center or at a local branch.

You can redeem miles for:

  • Flight tickets and upgrades on Korean Air
  • Flight tickets and upgrades on SkyTeam airline partners
  • Flights on non-SkyTeam Korean Air partners
  • Hotel stays with Korean Air partners
  • Car rentals or limousines with Korean Air Partners
  • Visits to the Jeju Folk Village Museum in South Korea

Transferring Points

SKYPASS miles can’t be transferred to other loyalty programs. However, Korean Air allows you to transfer miles earned from partners to the SKYPASS program. Those partners include major brands like Marriott, Hyatt, Alamo, Citi Bank, and more. Details for the SYPASS program can be found here.

How to Maximize Your Rewards

Make the most of this card by taking advantage of both its credit building potential and its travel rewards. To do that, use it responsibly to pay for travel and daily expenses to boost both your credit score and the miles you earn. 

In order to build a healthy credit profile, follow the expert advice to pay your monthly bill in full on time. Also since low credit usage is considered a positive factor by the agencies that score your credit, keep your spending at any one time to no more than 30% of your available credit, if you can. (That is, if you’ve deposited $1,000 to secure your credit limit with this card, try to keep your balance at or below $300.)  

Since there's no limit to the number of miles you can earn or restrictions on how to earn them, consider using this card for all types of expenses, not just travel.

Average Case

Consider this example to see how many miles you might be able to earn on this card. Let's say you purchase a domestic round-trip flight for $350 once per year and stay three nights in a hotel that costs $150 per night. In addition, let's assume you spend $200 per month on other expenses, such as food or personal care. That spending would total $3,200 for the year, and so earn 3,200 miles. Given our valuation of the miles at 1.6 cents each, the value of those rewards is approximately $51 when redeemed for flight purchases. That almost exactly matches the $50 annual cost of the card. 

Aspirational Case

Naturally, higher spending on this card leads to bigger rewards. Let's say you travel twice per year, taking two round-trip flights (at $350 each) and spending a total of five nights (at $150 a night) in hotels. Those purchases total $1,450: $700 in airfare and $750 in hotel stays. In addition, you use the card for food (both at home and at restaurants), apparel, entertainment, and personal care products. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you'd spend a combined total of about $14,000 per year on those expense categories. In total, then, you’d spend $15,450, which would earn you 15,450 miles. At 1.6 cents per mile in value, we estimate those rewards to be worth $247 when redeemed for flights.

SKYPASS Visa Secured Card’s Outstanding Benefits

  • $250,000 in travel-accident insurance
  • Rental car collision insurance (secondary to your own policy)
  • Bilingual automated 24-hour account access and customer service

Standard Benefits

  • Smart chip technology
  • Online purchase security
  • Complimentary vantage score

Cardholder Experience

US Bank, the institution that issues this card, is at best middling at satisfying its credit card customers, according to J.D. Power's 2019 Credit Card Satisfaction Study. The company received a score of 785 out of a possible 1,000. That’s more than 20 points below the average score of 806 among national card issuers. 

This card comes with 24/7 bilingual account access and bilingual customer service.

Cardmembers can get in touch with US Bank's customer service team specifically for this card by calling 866-286-8472. Customers can also log into their online account and email customer service.

Security Features

Credit cards issued by US Bank come with security precautions that are standard for the industry, including purchase security and 24/7 access to report lost or stolen cards. The SKYPASS Visa Secured also comes with smart-chip technology for enhanced safety.

Fees to Watch Out For 

Unusually for a card branded to an airline, the SKYPASS Visa Secured imposes a 2% fee for each foreign purchase or foreign ATM withdrawal in U.S. dollars. The fee moves up to 3% if those transactions are in a foreign currency.

Our Verdict

The SKYPASS Visa Secured card can be a compelling choice for domestic and expat travelers who want to build their credit as they also earn miles towards airline tickets on Korean Air along with more than 20 airlines, including Delta, KLM and Air France. True, the card has a $50 annual fee, but its cost could easily be justified with two of its benefits. The 1,000 bonus miles granted on every card anniversary are worth an estimated $16. And two or three days worth of the card’s rental-car insurance could readily offset the cost of buying that coverage. 

This card demands patience, though, to earn sufficient miles to redeem for an awards flight. For more immediate rewards, you might instead turn to other secured cards that also offer rewards—and at no annual cost. The Discover it Secured card, for example, has no annual fee and offers 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in purchases each quarter. It also offers an unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

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For SKYPASS Visa® Secured Card
on U.S. Bank's Secured Site.
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CURRENT CARD
SKYPASS Visa® Secured Card
overall rating
3.3
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Poor - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 16.24% variable
Annual Fee $50
Minimum Deposit to Activate $300
Investopedia Credit Card Rating Methodology
Investopedia is committed to delivering the best credit card recommendations in the industry. We’ll tell you when a card is good, we’ll tell you when a card is bad, and we’ll only call a card the best if we would recommend it to our friends or family members.
Overall Star Rating Explained
To rate credit cards we objectively assess, score and weight nearly 100 individual card features which roll up into five major feature sets: fees, interest, rewards, benefits and security/customer service. Here’s how we weighted those feature sets for the overall star rating of a card:
We have applied our proprietary rating methodology to every generally-accepted credit card in the U.S. domestic market to allow consumers to make fully informed choices. It’s important to note that for our overall score that we make a number of assumptions about how you would be using your credit card:
  1. While we make no assumption as to whether balances are carried on a given card we do assign varying weights to all credit cards’ introductory APR (if present) in addition to the regular, long term purchase and balance transfer interest rates.
  2. We utilize BLS (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) income and average category spending data to calculate annual earnings rates for rewards cards that offer cash back, points or miles rewards at a set rate on all spending or in consideration of bonus rewards for certain spending categories, like gasoline, groceries, restaurants or travel.
  3. We determine the maximum points value of rewards cards by dividing the points, cash back or miles required to exchange for the retail price of the most valuable redemption option (for example, in the case of a card that offers a domestic roundtrip airline ticket as a redemption option vs. another redemption option of lesser value that requires the same amount of points or miles to acquire, we would base the rewards value on the airline ticket).
  • Cards that are selected best overall in their respective categories generally feature most if not all of the following attributes:
  • Low or Reasonable Fees Credit card fees come in many forms but the primary ones involve those for annual card membership and balance transfer. There are a myriad of reward and non-reward card options that charge no annual fee but for the many that do assess an annual fee the cost is often justified by their lucrative ongoing rewards and initial signup bonuses. Balance transfer fees are occasionally waived during introductory periods with certain cards, a factor which is heavily and positively weighted in our scoring model for cards offering this benefit. When charged, balance transfer fees range between 3% - 5%, which we grade accordingly. Other standard fees can generally be avoided, such as those for paying late or taking cash advances but we rate those relative to other cards in the market for reference, though with less weight assigned
  • Competitive Interest Many cards offer 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for varying lengths and then revert to a permanent or regular APR (based on a variable rate tied to the prime rate) that applies to any balances not paid in full. We rate both introductory APR percentage and length (in months) along with the midpoint of the variable regular APR interest rate range.
  • Valuable Rewards Credit card reward programs can be based on cash back, points or travel rewards (which can be generic or travel partner-specific, as with airline and hotel co-brand card programs). For cards that offer rewards we determine the value per dollar spent along with average redemption values and assign more favorable ratings to cards that offer superior consumer value. We also assign value to sign-up bonus offers and their initial spending requirements, when present.
  • Excellent Benefits Credit card benefits cover a range of offerings like concierge service, TSA Pre-check, auto rental coverage, travel accident insurance, lost luggage assistance and free credit scores. We rate cards on the number and level of over a dozen standard and upscale benefits and provide extra weighting emphasis for those travel-related perks that apply to premium travel cards when present.
  • Solid Security/Customer Service Security and customer service features like lost or stolen card replacement, being able to lock one’s card from an issuer app and 24 hour customer support are becoming more standard across the card market and we provide a significant amount of weighting to features in this area.
  • You can also read the full version of our methodology for a more in-depth look at how we assess cards and award them the best in various categories.