Credit Cards

Credit Cards For The Person Who Has Them All – The Korean Airline Cards

Korean Air
Written by Charlie

We certainly do love earning our points with the big sign-up bonuses offered by our favorite issuers of Chase, American Express, Citi, and Barclaycard! However, if you have played the game for a while now, chances are you have had every card that offers big/medium bonuses and have probably even been through a few of them again. Sometimes, it can make sense (in such situations) to look at some of the credit cards that normally fly under the radar yet still yield some value for upcoming trips/purposes.

Reasons To Apply For Other Bonuses

For one thing, spreading around the application love allows you to give the banks mentioned above a little bit of a break from seeing your name pop up in their applicant systems. It also allows you to concentrate your award travels on some carriers that you may not have given thought to before and, by doing so, you can learn more about the other programs.

Co-Branded Credit Cards With Foreign Carriers

There are several foreign carriers that have US banks that issue co-branded credit cards to US residents. The great part about some of these carriers is that they are also transfer partners with some of the better known programs such as Chase’s Ultimate Rewards, American Express’ Membership Rewards, and Citi’s ThankYou program. That means that you can sign-up for one of these other credit cards, get the miles offered as the bonus, and then transfer in what you need from the transferrable program.

Actually Saving You More Valuable Points

If your goal is to fly on one of these carriers using their own miles or to redeem their miles for partners anyway, applying for a co-branded credit card actually lets you save on some of those valuable points such as Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Korean Air Skypass Cards

To be clear – neither of these cards pay me any commission!!!

To find out the best ways to use these miles and redeem them for a variety of travel and partners, check out One Mile At A Time’s fantastic post on the subject.

Korean Air is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards and very valuable if you want to fly first class on Skyteam carriers. Even though Delta is a member of the Skyteam Alliance, because Delta does not offer international first class, you are unable to redeem Skymiles for redemption in first class cabins of Delta’s partners. Korean Air does allow you to do that!

The sign-up bonuses on these cards are far from the great ones we have come to expect, but it does work for all of the reasons mentioned above:

  • Cards issued by US Bank (same issuer as the Club Carlson cards and the Flexperks cards) – note: some people have a hard time getting approved by US Bank unless they first freeze their IDA/ADS reports for the application – see Travel Codex’s great guide on doing that here.
  • Ultimate Rewards transfer at 1:1 so it is like saving thousands of Ultimate Reward points

Through March 31, if you want to earn 500 miles in the Korean Air program, sign-up to register your e-mail address.

Korean Air Skypass Personal Card

Korean Air Skypass Personal Credit Card Application

Korean Air

The personal card comes with 15,000 Skypass miles after first purchase or the paying of the $80 annual fee. Along with the sign-up bonus comes 2 Korean Air VIP lounge coupons as well. The coupons and 2,000 miles are issued every year thereafter.

Be aware – if they do not deem you worth of the Signature card, they may process your application for the lower bonus card of only 5,000 miles. The annual fee on that is $50.

Worth It?

So, if you have to pay the $80, is it worth the 15,000 miles? That means you are essentially paying .5 cents per mile when you could easily generate Ultimate Reward points with gift cards from an office store at a rate of .7 cents each. I know there are many that can manufacture the spending required to secure 15,000 Ultimate Reward points in no time at all, but for some, it may be more than they desire to handle. In that case, paying .5 cent per mile for Korean miles may be more worth their time. So, a personal call to be sure.

Korean Air Skypass Business Card

Korean Air

Korean Air Skypass Business Credit Card Application

The business version comes with a 10,000 mile bonus after first purchase or the payment of the $75 annual fee. This card also comes with the 2 Korean Air VIP lounge coupons as well as 2 each year and 2,000 miles.

Worth It?

This one becomes a little harder to justify since you are essentially paying .75 cents per mile – more than you would pay for the Ultimate Reward points you generate with gift cards from Staples, etc. However, if you do not want to manufacture the spending necessary for 10,000 miles (if you went the office store/Visa gift card route, it would require buying and liquidating 10 $200 gift cards – not that hard to do).

Again, this comes down to individual preference and whether they want to pick up the points with one bonus or by buying fit cards.


I would definitely not recommend these cards for people new/semi-new to the hobby. These would be more for the person who is wanting to give the other banks a break for a bit or someone who is wanting to accrue Korean miles with as little work possible.

I like the idea of other carriers offering cards to US residents as it does give us options, but we cannot expect big bonuses when they go with what may be considered more second-tier banks like US Bank. British Airways has partnered with Chase and that gives us the 50,000 point bonus, but that is not something we see with everyone – this Korean Air offer is certainly better than the ones that ANA keeps trying to “entice” me with. 🙂

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.