By Mike Weisbart
In Korea, if the only reward you receive from your credit card is air mileage, then you are seriously behind the times.
The card market here is replete with some of the most idiosyncratic cards imaginable, and consumers of all stripes are benefiting.
For example, a family preparing to welcome a new addition might just be enticed by the With Baby card from Hana SK Card. It gives discounts on a range of all things baby-related and the company has developed a series of partnerships with hospitals and online shopping malls that cater specifically to new parents.
Or perhaps spas are high on a consumer’s list. They could try the NH M Castle Leisure Card, or even the more specific Spas Valley Card, both of which give discounts and points at various amusement facilities and designated restaurants nearby.
The long list continues. Do you have a pet? There’s a card for that (Hana SK Puppy Card). Make a habit of making social contributions? There are many cards for that (BC My Home Love card, Shinhan Beautiful Card and the NH Love Tree Card, to name a few).
There’s even a card that promotes environmentally sustainable living (BC Green Card). It is supported by the Ministry of Environment and gives credits to people who use it to take the bus. The credits can be used to lower utility bills or just to get some cash back.
With a population of 52 million, Korea enjoys what has to be one of the most complex and competitive credit card markets in the world. Including department store cards, there are 13 different card companies supplying consumers with credit products that are aligned with local banks and three different companies handling settlements, including the familiar Visa and MasterCard, and the homegrown BC Card.