Full Review of SKYPASS Visa Secured Card
Builds credit while earning miles
Possibility to move to an unsecured card
$50 annual fee
Credit must be secured
Foreign transaction fees
- 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.
- $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.
- 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.
- 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.
This Card is Best For
Seeks to maximize points or miles earnings across spending categories
Motivated to create positive credit history
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 the time limit after 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
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.
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.
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 $13,928 per year on those expense categories. In total, you’d spend $15,378, which would earn you 15,378 miles. At 1.6 cents per mile in value, we estimate those rewards to be worth $246.05 when redeemed for flights.
SKYPASS Visa Secured Card’s Outstanding Benefits
- Travel-accident insurance
- Rental car collision insurance (secondary to your own policy)
- Bilingual automated 24-hour account access and customer service
- Smart chip technology
- Online purchase security
- Complimentary vantage score
US Bank, the issuer of this card, ranked 10th out 11 card issuers in the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study. The bank scored a 786, which was 24 points below the average.
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.
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 fee for each foreign purchase or foreign ATM withdrawal in U.S. dollars. The fee moves increases if those transactions are in a foreign currency.
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.