I really do not know where to start, as there was no Big-Bang to begin with.. Yes it began with paper-plastic tickets, then credit-cards, then one form of payment came after another.. although we have to comfort in the fact that this all is not diverse nor incompatible as neighboring Japan, where about two-dozen regional railways had their own cards, ughhh

all information in this BLog is divided into either Pages or Posts where the former list content expected to hold true for more than two years . and even here this subject become blury as it keeps on changing, although each largely in longer increments than that..

[ CONVENIENCE ]
to take any mass-transit including bus, subway, train, airport limousine, KTX and SRT bullet-train and taxi : you’ll need cash, their ticket or pre-paid or post-pay cards, and in this Page I will explain second from the latter . depending on your life-style as well as your needs, there are benefits using your card, aside from simply paying cash or by each ticket . here you have to decide if you want to pay in advance, or later in the form of credit card . both benefit in the fact that you don’t need to carry small change AND points will be added to which-ever type of card you have selected . meaning the issuers are largely conglomerates – huge companies whose this branch is their transportation payment business . so they have their own membership-point values which add-up to use later, much like airline mileage – although at peanuts increments .

[ SAFETY ]
but double-payment does happen and having a limited pre-paid amount in your card can be much safer then leaving your credit card pay-out automatically . still, there is no immediate way to recover your loss if your pre-paid card is lost or stolen .

[ Pre-Paid Cards ]
you are now left to choose between either cashbee and T-Money .
ThankFully usable throughout all of South Korea (with minor exception below). and this BLog will quite simply explain the difference between the two, but as you can imagine it has come a long way to have only two major cards that can be used throughout technologically-developed South Korea, although still a relatively small country .

before that, how they are common :

  1. both can be purchased at convenience stores, each how-ever at different brand branches,
  2. both will credit points into what-ever brand logo is printed on the front and/or back-side, and usually multiple – every time you use it .
  3. can add money by paying cash at convenience stores (only W50,000 maximum at a time, so can do this several times)

 

[ cashbee ] begun 2011

  • selling at By-The-Way (eventually merged into 7-11) and Seven-Eleven (of Japanese-Korean Lotte Group) convenience stores
  • will add Lotte L-Points each time you use
  • can add money through WooRi BC Credit Card at convenience stores

note a couple of caveats though : as this cannot be used in the City of DaeJeon, and have reports of doubly-payment on T-Money devices installed on taxis (know : much more taxis have T-Money than cashbee).

but one major plus is that L-Points in this card can be used just as cash on any Lotte-related shop including department store and mart ! and lastly a minor plus is that cashbee has far more design options (i.e., different character anime or comic illustration on the face-plate) than T-Money which tends to be more simple and dull //

 

[ T-Money ] from 2014

  • purchase at CU (of Japanese Family Mart chain) and GS25 (spin-off LG group) convenience stores
  • will add either Happy Point, GS Point or CU Point depending where you purchased, and note such on the card itself,
  • add to this T-Mileage also
  • can add money through Lotte Credit Card at convenience stores

originally introduced with USB dongle version as introduced in this BLog, but slowly fading but T-Money has spread steadily from the Capital to usable now in all of South Korea, except a half-a-dozen towns in GyeongSangBukDo and South-Western-most island of Jindo .

 

[ Bank Cash Cards and Credit Cards ]

all above are pre-paid cards, but there has been a much more convenient way to pay if you commute regularly :

  • Cash or Check Card : these cards are mainly for withdrawing small amounts from your bank savings account, but can have an option for implementing transportation capability at the time of issuing . ofcourse you can change it later if you haven’t . with this card : any usage will be immediately taken from your bank account on-the-fly, and you can set it so that it will inform you this transaction directly onto your iPhone or smart-phone .
    – the only caveat is that all those small change will show-up independently – taking-up one line each on your check-book as well as you bank statement duh
  • Credit Card : so this is a pay-later option compared to pre-paid and pay-now systems above . but what’s the point to pay later if it’s only small change – although you cannot say it is dirty-cheap in South Korea : roughly W1,200 per trip plus a tad if you change bus and/or subway .
    – one plus on these cash, check and credit cards was that you can accumulate tiny points to use later, but more cashbee and T-money cards are coming out with accumulation also the borders are fading my friends..

all holding true as of October 8 2017 – Korea Tech BLog

 

( Post-script ) I differentiate content on this BLog as to those that will hold true for more than two years on information Pages, while the more daily topics as BLog Posts . now this is a Page, and as transportation cards are ever-evolving in Korea : will update individual cards into BLog Posts so please search on top-right menu of this BLog for updated info.