If you've spent more than ten minutes on this blog, you probably know by now that I've got a huge wet sploosh in my pants for finance and economics. As an expat, you won't be getting your hands on a credit card, so your options are limited to debit cards. If you pay Korean taxes, you should be using a Korean card whenever possible for tax reasons.
I discourage you from investigating these cards any further. The websites are poorly written, missing information, and have all sorts of unclear language. I've omitted many obscure rewards and clarified errors on their site by speaking with staff, so just take my word on this.
No monthly fees.
Best Debit Card by a Mile
0.3% Point rewards for any purchase
Only card that can be used as a public transit card, with big rewards
1% points and extra cash back when used to pay phone bills automatically
Phone bill discount doubles when 500,000W is spent in 1 month.
The standard KEB transfer and exchange rate discounts
Rainbow color scheme comes in handy when trolling for gay dick at The Cockpit
30% off concerts/movies at Interpark
40% discount on Internet Banking overseas wire transfer fees
20% discount on foreign currency remittance commission
30% bonus on currency exchange for cash and traveler checks (USD and JPY only)
Tons of other discounts not worth mentioning
-The Catch: All features of this card are only received if 100,000W is spent that month. That's equivalent to the cost of 1.2 hookers, or one-third of a girlfriend.
Every expat need a KEB account. Their customer service by phone and even on Facebook is absolutely phenomenal. Go into a KEB before 4:30PM with your passport or ARC, open an Expat Savings Account with online banking, and ask for the Rainbow check card. Only cards from Seoul come with the T-money chip, so you will have to ask them to mail you one if you want to use it for public transit.
You'll get the same discounts as you would using a regular e-pass, with KEB's discounts on top of that. Very convenient.
The Other KEB Debit Card
Global Check Card
Different from the Global Card, which is a credit/debit hybrid with a 10k monthly fee.
This purple piece of shit sucks more dick than Barney and the Grimace combined. In exchange for no spending limit, you get the features of the Rainbow Card I underlined above.
-Update Mar 26, 2013: KEB reps allege that this card has up to 30% off concert tickets from Ticketplay (not Interpark) but in my experience, is actually bullshit. So this card is totally fucking worthless.
Fuck Everybody Else
KEB is a unicorn that has far cheaper and higher quality service than its competitors.
Other Korean banks have rewards that are obscured through poorly designed websites with virtually no English support.
Take NongHyup bank for example, Korea's largest banking conglomerate. They have the most branches in Korea, they own a bunch of retailers and their own brand of farmer's markets.
I spent hours googling, clicking around their Korean website, trying to find information about this New Have check card. Came up with nothing at all.
It took me a 30 minute cross-language conversation in person, only to figure out that the New Have card's main discount is 0.3% points back on purchases made through NH businesses. You get higher rewards from shopping at NH businesses using the KEB Rainbow Card! You're losing out big if you're using anything else, no matter who you are or where you live.
Plus, the Rainbow Card is faaaabulous.