Thursday, April 21, 2011


Credit cards:

It is becoming harder for foreigners to obtain credit cards. However, it is still possible, more so it seems if you are employed in a public school, or if you have stayed in Korea for some time. Stores like Lotte might also offer credit cards, it all depends where you go to. It also depends on what kind of credit card you want. KEB according to some reports online still help foreign teachers.In general there seems to be the following types of card available from a bank like KEB to foreigners:

A "Global" Debit Card- This works almost like a debit card from back home. It's a Visa and free. You can withdraw money from any ATM in the world and use it to shop online, but only from Korean websites (G-Market etc...)

A Secured Credit Card. Chances are this is what every bank manager wants to sell you. You have to make a deposit of around 2.0 mil into a special account. 90% of your deposit is your credit limit. It is kind of a bad deal, but you get a credit card that you can use in the rest of the world.

An Unsecured Credit Card- These are the riskiest for banks so they tend not to give them out. KEB will give you one if you are a public school teacher who has been in Korea for more than a year. You have to apply in person and you should bring your contract if you don't bank with them. You get to pick your card type. I selected the E-Pass because I live in Seoul and not having to refill my T-Money is a godsend. There is no annual fee for mine and they delivered it to my school (you have to sign for it)

Credit Cards work differently in Korea than the US. There are two ways to use it, one is free and the other cost an arm and a leg. The free way works like an American Express. You have a limit and once a month your bill is settled from your bank account automatically. I went with the 25th for obvious reasons. You have no interest charges as long as you pay on time.
The expensive way is to turn it into a revolving account. This is similar to US credit cards where you only have to pay a percent each month. This is where the high interest rates hit you, around 22%-25%.
Having a real credit card here has certainly made my life a little easier when it comes to travel or buying things overseas.  (Thanks to Mdarino for this post on:,8813.msg0/topicseen.html#new)

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