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SKYPASS Visa Secured Review: Travel Rewards, but at a Cost

It's the rare secured card that earns airline miles. But in exchange, it requires a relatively high deposit and annual fee.
March 21, 2019
Airline Credit Cards, Credit Cards, Credit Cards for Bad Credit, Rewards Credit Cards, Travel Credit Cards
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The U.S. Bank-issued SKYPASS Visa® Secured Card is an intriguing option for air travelers who are also looking to build or mend credit. (SKYPASS is Korean Air’s frequent flyer program.)

It’s a secured credit card, meaning it requires cash collateral upfront. But it offers both travel rewards and a sign-up bonus — somewhat rare benefits in the secured card realm — along with a handful of other perks. Korean Air is part of the SkyTeam alliance, so miles earned with this card can be transferred to one of 18 other member airlines, including Delta.

But you’ll have to weigh these benefits against the card’s annual fee of $50. That’s on top of a relatively high required minimum deposit. You can find similar credit-building cards that earn rewards without charging an annual fee. You might even qualify for an alternative credit card that requires no deposit either.

SKYPASS Visa® Secured Card

SKYPASS Visa® Secured Card

Apply Now on US Bank's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 300
    850
    Poor - Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • Qualify with limited / bad credit

    Cons

    • Has annual fee
    • High APR

    Annual Fees

    $50

    APR

    • Purchase: 18.49%, Variable
    • Cash Advance APR: 20.99%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    5,000 SKYPASS bonus miles after your first purchase

    Intro APR

    • N/A
  • Additional Information
    • 5,000 SKYPASS bonus miles after your first purchase
    • 1,000 Bonus miles at renewal.
    • Earn 1 mile for every $1 you spend in eligible net purchases (purchases minus credits and returns).
    • $250,000 in Travel Accident Insurance.
    • View Rates and Fees

SKYPASS Visa® Secured Card: Basics and benefits

Annual fee: $50.

Minimum opening deposit: $300

Maximum deposit/credit limit: $5,000

Sign-up bonus: 5,000 SKYPASS bonus miles after your first purchase.

Ongoing rewards:

  • Earn one SKYPASS mile for every $1 spent on eligible net purchases.
  • Earn 1,000 bonus miles each year upon card membership renewal.

APR: The ongoing APR is 18.49% Variable.

Foreign exchange fees:

  • 2% of each foreign purchase transaction or foreign ATM advance transaction in U.S. dollars.
  • 3% of each foreign purchase transaction or foreign ATM advance transaction in a foreign currency.

Other benefits: Travel accident insurance, collision damage waiver coverage for car rentals.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best secured credit cards

Why you might want the SKYPASS Visa® Secured Card

  • Earn unlimited travel rewards: Secured cards don’t often come with any kind of rewards at all, but it’s even harder to find a secured card that specifically earns travel rewards. The SKYPASS Visa® Secured Card earns a respectable 1 SKYPASS mile per dollar spent. Plus, there’s no earnings cap.
  • Easy-to-snag sign-up bonus: With many travel rewards cards, you have to hit a minimum spending threshold (often into the thousands of dollars) to earn the sign-up bonus. But with the SKYPASS Visa® Secured Card, you’ll earn 5,000 SKYPASS bonus miles after your first purchase. 
  • Potential to graduate to an unsecured card: If you demonstrate responsible credit behavior for 12 months, your account will be considered for “graduation” to an unsecured card. This can give a boost to your credit profile and free up the cash that was being held as a security deposit on your SKYPASS Visa® Secured Card.
  • Customer service in Korean: For recent immigrants and college students for whom Korean is their first language, being able to connect with a customer service rep who speaks their native tongue can be a big plus.

Why you might want a different card

  • High annual fee: While this card’s sign-up bonus can help offset its annual fee in the first year, it’s hard to justify paying that fee at all when there are other rewards-earning secured cards that don’t charge one. One example is the Discover it® Secured. It has an annual fee of $0, and while it doesn’t pay in travel miles, it does earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter, automatically. All other purchases earn an unlimited 1% cash back. There’s also a sign-up bonus: Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year. Your deposit can be as low as $200, and the Discover it® Secured will also review your account starting at eight months to see if you qualify to graduate to an unsecured card.
  • High security deposit: You’ll have to put up a minimum of $300. That’s on the high side for a secured card, many of which charge a $200 minimum. In some cases, depending on your credit profile, you can get started for even less than that. With the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®, for instance, you can get a $200 credit line after making a security deposit of $49, $99 or $200 (based on your creditworthiness). It doesn’t earn rewards, but on the other hand, its annual fee is $0.
  • Limited redemption options: Generally, SKYPASS miles can be redeemed toward award travel or flight upgrades on Korean Air or on SkyTeam partners, or at a handful of hotel partners. There’s a handful of other options, but they’re poor choices for mileage redemption (coat check and Korean Air-branded merchandise, for example). There’s no option for cash back, and you cannot purchase SKYPASS miles. Delta is the only domestic carrier in the SkyTeam alliance, and if a flight or upgrade on Delta or another a SkyTeam Alliance airline isn’t in your plans, your rewards will go unused. If you’re looking for the most flexible reward of all — cash back — and you’d like higher rates than 1X back on everything, the Deserve® Pro Mastercard is worth a look. The card is aimed at those with established credit, but the issuer may allow exceptions for those who meet income and employment verification requirements. The card earns 3% cash back on travel and entertainment and 2% cash back at restaurants (on up to $500 in combined spending per billing cycle), and 1% cash back on all other purchases. The annual fee is $0.
  • Not ideal for international travel: Thanks to its foreign transaction fees, the SKYPASS Visa® Secured Card isn’t the best travel companion. If overseas travel is on your horizon but your credit score has yet to take flight, a better choice could be the AvantCard Credit Card. It doesn’t earn rewards, but it also doesn’t have any foreign transaction fees. Its annual fee is also lower — $29 — plus it’s an unsecured card, meaning you won’t have to pony up for a deposit. 

Is the SKYPASS Visa® Secured Card right for you?

The SKYPASS Visa® Secured Card is best for a very specific card-seeker: someone with a thin or damaged credit profile who’s OK with paying an annual fee in order to earn SKYPASS miles and/or to have access to bilingual customer service. 

For anyone else, there are other secured credit cards and alternative credit cards that will make better financial sense.