Travelling to Korea soon and worried about high fees when you use your credit card? Not sure if you will be able to withdraw cash at an ATM or use your credit card when shopping? Want to avoid paying high rates to exchange cash at home or in Korea? Then you should definitely learn about the WOWPASS card, the Korean travel card that comes with T-Money.
WOWPASS is a new type of travel card and truly one-of-a-kind. It allows you to pay in local currency in Korea, but can be topped up using 15 different foreign currencies. Because it’s issued in Korea, it’s more reliable and is accepted almost everywhere that local Korean bank cards are.
What’s more, there’s a package designed for tourists to Korea that offers not only a WOWPASS travel card, but also an extremely useful Korean sim card and 10,000 KRW T-Money balance, which is perfect for getting around Korea on day 1 of your journey to Korea. Full details in this article.
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What Is A WOWPASS Card?
The WOWPASS card is an all-in-one prepaid Korean travel money card that allows you to pay like a local in Korea and pay for public transportation using foreign currency or Korean won. The WOWPASS allows you to avoid expensive fees or bad exchange rates from using your home bank card in Korea.
One of the biggest benefits of the WOWPASS is the ability to top it up in one of 15 foreign currencies and use it straight away to pay for things in Korea with no fees. The exchange rates are better than you’ll find at the airport and you can avoid the problem of having to carry loads of cash with you.
Here are some more benefits of the WOWPASS card:
|Benefits of the WOWPASS card
|WOWPASS accepted across Korea
|Top-up in your own currency
|Competitive exchange rates
|T-Money functions for transportation
|Brand discounts and cashback benefits
|Safer than carrying cash
|Easily check your balance
|Track your holiday spending
How much does the WOWPASS card cost? Only 5,000 KRW. That’s less than $5 USD. WOWPASS includes a T-Money card, which can cost 4,000 KRW alone. If you use an invitation code (such as INMYKOR1) you’ll get 0.5% cashback when you top-up your WOWPASS with a foreign currency.
Korea is fast becoming a cash-free society… and the WOWPASS is an answer to this issue.
As you can see in the pictures below, Korea is fast becoming a cash-free society with more places only accepting card payments, including buses, restaurants, cafes, and attractions. The need for a travel money card in Korea has never been stronger and the WOWPASS is an answer to this issue.
WOWPASS Airport Package: Saving You More
As well as all the great benefits of getting a WOWPASS card, there is also a special package for tourists to Korea called the Airport Package. This complete package includes a WOWPASS, 10,000 KRW T-Money balance, and a discounted uSim or eSim with unlimited data to connect to the net.
The Airport Package is great value for money as it offers all of those benefits but at a lower price vs. buying them separately at the airport. Here’s what you get and how much you can save:
|T-Money Card & Balance
|Korean Sim Card
|34,700 KRW (10 days)
|38,500 KRW (10 days)
*The price of the WOWPASS Airport Package depends on the cost of the sim card you get and all of them are cheaper than what you’ll pay at the airport counters. The sim cards are available for 3 / 5 / 10 / 20 / 30 days so there’s something to suit you, however long you plan to travel in Korea.
A regular WOWPASS card doesn’t come pre-loaded with a 10,000 KRW T-Money balance, so the Airport Package allows you to jump straight onto the subway from Incheon Airport into Seoul. Use the WOWPASS from the Airport Package and touch the barriers at the subway station to travel.
The Airport Package allows you to jump straight onto the subway from Incheon Airport into Seoul.
A T-Money card is an essential purchase for any traveller to Korea. Getting a tourist sim card is also really useful for staying connected so you can surf the web, use apps, and check the weather. The WOWPASS Airport Package gives you both of these at a discount and a WOWPASS card, too.
In the rest of this article, I’ll tell you about how to issue a WOWPASS card and how to get the Airport Package, as well as provide details about where and how you can use WOWPASS in Korea. I’ll also explain some of the key benefits of the WOWPASS app and share my experience using WOWPASS.
Planning to visit Korea? These travel essentials will help you plan your trip, get the best deals, and save you time and money before and during your Korean adventure.
How To Issue WOWPASS At A WOW Machine
Getting a WOWPASS card is really simple for travellers to Korea. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you download the app, collect your WOWPASS and start using it when you travel in Korea. That’s why I recommend it in my South Korea Travel Guide, which is full of essential Korean travel tips.
How To Issue WOWPASS In Korea
1: Download The WOWPASS App
2: Create A WOWPASS Account
To use the WOWPASS app, you’ll need to create an account. This is simple and all you need to do is enter an email address, password, select your preferred currency, and accepts the T&Cs. Click ‘Finish Sign-Up’ to complete your account and confirm your email address.
3: Enter Your Invitation Code
Open the WOWPASS app and there is an option to enter an invitation code at the top of the screen. If you enter an invitation code, you will receive up to 0.5% cash back on foreign currency top-ups worth a maximum of 1,000,000 KRW. Invitation Code: INMYKOR1
4: Go To A WOW Exchange Machine
Bring your passport and phone with the WOWPASS app installed to one of more than 90 WOW Exchange machines across Korea, including at Incheon Airport inside the Airport Express non-stop train terminal. Select your preferred language and touch the start screen. Select the service ‘WOWPASS Card’ to issue your WOWPASS.
5: Select ‘Get A New Card’
After reading about the benefits of the WOWPASS card, select the option to ‘Get a New Card’ on the WOW Exchange machine.
6: Select The Currency You Want To Top-Up With
To issue a new WOWPASS card, you need to add credit to the card. You can do this in 16 different currencies, including Korean won. If you registered an invitation code when you registered your app, you will get 0.5% cash back when adding credit with a foreign currency.
7: Scan Your Passport
Before you actually add any money to the WOWPASS card, you first need to validate your identity by showing your passport. This rule applies any time you exchange money in Korea, whether it’s at a WOW Exchange machine, a money changer, or in a bank.
8: Agree To The WOWPASS Membership Agreement
After you confirm your identity, you need to confirm one last time that you accept the WOWPASS terms and conditions. You can view these on the WOW Exchange machine and they’re also stated in the app. Select ‘Agree All’ to continue to
9: Deposit Cash Into The WOW Exchange Machine
Add cash in your selected currency to the WOW Exchange machine. You need to add each bill separately. The screen will show you your current balance as you add more notes.
10: Confirm The Deposit And Get WOWPASS
Once you’ve finished adding cash to the WOW Exchange machine, your WOWPASS card will be issued. Please note, the 5,000 KRW fee for the WOWPASS will be deducted at this stage. Press ‘Get Card’ to receive your WOWPASS card from the machine.
11: Insert The WOWPASS Card To Activate It
Collect the WOWPASS card from the WOW Exchange machine and insert it into the card reader slot at the front. Make sure to push it in firmly. Once the card has been inserted, it will be active.
12: Withdraw KRW To Top-Up T-Money (Optional)
After you activate the card in the WOW Exchange machine, it will ask if you would like to withdraw KRW to top-up the T-Money balance of the WOWPASS. The T-Money feature of the WOWPASS doesn’t come with any preloaded balance (unless you buy the Airport Package) and needs to be topped-up in KRW. T-Money balances can only be topped-up in cash. This is an optional step.
13: Remove Your WOWPASS Card From The Machine
When you have finished topping-up the WOWPASS and withdrawing cash (if needed), select ‘Finish’ on the WOW Exchange machine and withdraw your WOWPASS.
14: Register Your WOWPASS With The WOWPASS App
After issuing your new WOWPASS card from the WOW Exchange machine, you will need to register it in the WOWPASS App. Select the ‘Add Card’ button and it will request permission to access your phone’s camera. This is to allow it to scan the barcode on the WOWPASS.
15: Scan The Barcode On Your WOWPASS
On the back of your WOWPASS card is a barcode, as well as your card’s account and T-Money card details. Register your WOWPASS on the WOWPASS app by moving the barcode into the camera window. The app will read the barcode and register your WOWPASS.
16: Start Using Your WOWPASS Card In Korea
Now that your WOWPASS card has been topped up and activated, you can start using it throughout Korea. You don’t need to activate it or top it up at Incheon Airport, you can activate it and get the card at any WOW Exchange location in Korea.
The regular WOWPASS card doesn’t come with any T-Money balance (the Airport Package does). You will need to add money to the T-Money balance on your WOWPASS to be able to use the T-Money functions. I’ll explain more in the section about How To Use WOWPASS T-Money Features.
As you can see from the guide to getting a WOWPASS card above, it is necessary to use your phone to get a WOWPASS, which means you’ll need an active Internet connection. There is free WiFi available in Incheon Airport, but getting a Korean sim card is a more convenient option when in Korea.
That’s one of the reasons why a WOWPASS Airport Package is a great option for travellers to Korea. You can activate the sim card straight away at the airport and use your phone instantly.
How To Pre-Order WOWPASS Airport Package
The WOWPASS Airport Package is a great deal for those who want to start their Korean journey with a pre-loaded T-Money card, a discounted sim card, and their own WOWPASS card to spend like a local in Korea. It’s available at 5 locations in Korea, including Incheon Airport and Busan Harbour.
Here are the steps required to pre-order the WOWPASS Airport Package from the WOWPASS app. Don’t forget to enter your invitation code before you sign up. If you don’t have an invitation code, you can enter mine – INMYKOR1 – or you can ask if any of your friends have a code.
1: Select ‘Airport Package’ In The WOWPASS App
To reserve the WOWPASS Airport Package, open the WOWPASS app and click on the blue banner.
2: Confirm The WOWPASS Membership & T-Money Costs
The next step of reserving the Airport Package is to accept the WOWPASS & T-Money Costs.
3: Choose Your Sim Card
Choose the sim card you want to use. Both USIM and ESIM have the same costs.
4: Select Your Pickup Date
After choosing your sim card, select the date you will arrive in Korea and collect your package.
5: Choose Your Pickup Location
Choose the collection point from one of the five available locations, including Incheon Airport.
6: Enter Your Personal Details
Enter your personal details, including your email address and name as per your passport.
7: Choose Your Payment Method
Choose your payment method (JCB, Visa, Mastercard, AMEX, or UnionPay) and currency, then agree to the terms and conditions.
8: Reservation Successful
After entering your payment details and paying for the Airport Package, you will receive a voucher code and confirmation email.
You can reserve the Airport Package any time before you travel to Korea. I recommend doing it at the same time as you choose your flights to Korea so you don’t forget later on. The next section of this guide will show you how to issue your WOWPASS when you arrive at the airport.
How To Issue WOWPASS Airport Package At Incheon Airport
As long as you’ve reserved the Airport Package in the WOWPASS app, you can quickly and conveniently collect your WOWPASS card with built in T-Money and your discounted sim card at your selected airport or port. It took less than 3 minutes to issue my WOWPASS Airport Package.
Here are the steps required to issue the WOWPASS Airport Package at Incheon Airport:
1: Open The WOWPASS App
Open the WOWPASS App to check your Airport Package voucher code. You will need to show this to the staff at the SK Telecom counter.
2: Go To The SK Telecom Counter
Go to the SK Telecom counter in Terminal 1 of Incheon Airport. You can check the location of the counter in the WOWPASS App.
3: Take A Waiting Ticket
Take a waiting ticket to join the queue at the SK Telecom counter. If there is no one waiting, you can go straight to the counter instead.
4: Provide Passport For ID Check
Show your Airport Package voucher code and provide your passport to confirm your identity. The staff at the counter will check it quickly.
5: Sign For The Airport Package
You will be asked to sign your name on an electronic signature machine to confirm that you have received your WOWPASS Airport Package.
6: Receive Your Airport Package
The staff will hand you your WOWPASS Airport Package, which includes your chosen sim card and a WOWPASS card with T-Money credit.
Once you’ve received your WOWPASS card, you can top it up at any WOW Exchange machine locations, including the one inside the Airport Express terminal. You can add cash the same way as you would when you issue a regular WOWPASS card (step 6 onwards shows you how to top up).
One major benefit of the WOWPASS Airport Package is that it comes with 10,000 KRW in T-Money credit which you can use right away to take the All-Stop train to Hongdae or Seoul Station. The next section will explain how to use the T-Money function of WOWPASS to travel in Korea.
How To Use WOWPASS T-Money To Travel In Korea
The T-Money card is an essential purchase when you travel to Korea as it allows you to pay for buses, subways, taxis, and more across Korea. WOWPASS comes with T-Money functions, which means you save money and wallet-space as you don’t have to buy a separate T-Money card.
Please note: The WOWPASS Airport Package comes with a pre-loaded 10,000 KRW T-Money balance. However, the regular WOWPASS doesn’t, so you will need to top-up before using it. That’s why I strongly recommend getting the Airport Package if you’re flying into Incheon Airport.
Travel From Incheon Airport To Seoul With WOWPASS T-Money
There are several options for getting from Incheon Airport to Seoul, including trains, taxis, buses, and private airport transfers. There are two trains that go to Seoul – the Airport Express (non-stop) and the All-Stop train, which stops at several locations, including Hongdae subway station.
The All-Stop train accepts T-Money, so you can use your WOWPASS from the Airport Package to ride this train into Seoul. Unfortunately, the Airport Express train doesn’t accept T-Money, so you’ll need to buy a separate ticket to ride that. It also only stops at Seoul Station.
Here’s how to ride the All-Stop train from Incheon Airport into central Seoul:
1: Go To The All-Stop Terminal
You can take the All-Stop train to Seoul from Terminal 1or 2 from Incheon Airport. Go to the transport centre on floor B1 of the terminal.
2: Use Your WOWPASS To Enter
Place your WOWPASS on the card reader to enter the All-Stop train platform. The cost will be deducted from your T-Money balance.
3: Ride The All-Stop Train
Enter the All-Stop train carriage at Incheon Airport and ride the train to your desired stop. The journey to Hongdae takes about 50 minutes.
4: Exit With Your WOWPASS
When you leave the train, you will need to place your WOWPASS on the card reader again to finalise your payment through T-Money.
The process of using WOWPASS T-Money is the same when riding the subway in Seoul and other cities in Korea. For buses, tap the WOWPASS to the electronic card reader when you enter the bus, and again when you leave the bus. When you transfer, you’ll get a discount on your next ride.
If you are staying in Hongdae (there are some great hotels in Hongdae), then you can get off at Hongdae subway station and top-up your WOWPASS inside the station or at one of several hotels in the area. Use the WOWPASS app to check WOW Exchange machine locations near you.
How To Top-Up The WOWPASS T-Money Balance
The WOWPASS Airport Package comes with 10,000 KRW T-Money balance, which is enough to take the All-Stop train to Seoul and ride the subway or buses several more times. A one-way subway ride starts at 1,250 KRW and short journeys on buses and subways in Seoul will be the same price.
You can check your T-Money balance on the WOWPASS app by using your phone’s NFC reader to scan your WOWPASS. You can also top-up and check your T-Money balance at ticket machines in train stations, as well as convenience stores across the country.
Here’s how to top-up the T-Money balance on your WOWPASS at a subway station:
1: Go To A Subway Ticket Machine
Go to any subway ticket machine in Seoul or other cities. The machine should say ‘Card Reload Device’ at the top.
2: Select Recharge The Card To Top-Up
Change the language settings as you like, then select ‘Recharge the card’ to top-up the T-Money balance on your WOWPASS.
3: Place WOWPASS On The Card Reader
Place your WOWPASS on the electronic card reader. This will be a flat area with a picture of a card, it changes depending on the machine.
4: Add Cash To Top-Up T-Money Balance
Add cash to top-up the T-Money balance. You can only use cash to top-up a T-Money card, which is standard for any T-Money device.
Once you’ve added the desired amount of cash to top up your T-Money balance on your WOWPASS, select finish and the card balance will be electronically adjusted. Make sure you don’t remove your WOWPASS from the card reader until the machine has finished topping up the balance.
If you’re not close to a subway station and you want to top-up or check your T-Money balance, you can also go to any major convenience store (GS25, CU, 7/11, Emart 24) and do it there.
Here’s how to top-up the T-Money balance on your WOWPASS at a convenience store:
1: Go To A Convenience Store
Go to any major convenience store in Seoul or other cities across Korea.
3: Give Cash To The Cashier
You can only use cash to top-up T-Money balances, so make sure you have cash available to pay with. Give it to the cashier.
4: Place WOWPASS On Card Reader
Place the WOWPASS on the electronic card reader and wait for confirmation from the cashier that the balance has been updated.
Whenever you use your WOWPASS T-Money balance to travel on buses or subways, you should see the fee for the ride and also your remaining T-Money balance. This is the easiest way to check how much you have left to spend and how expensive each journey is.
How To Pay With WOWPASS In Korea
You can travel Korea conveniently with a WOWPASS and T-Money. WOWPASS can be used to pay for street food, souvenirs, attractions, shopping, and everywhere else you’d normally use a card. T-Money can be used to travel on Korea’s amazing public transportation, including subways and buses.
When you want to pay with the WOWPASS, for example in a shop or restaurant, you only need to insert the card into the card reader and it will deduct the payment in a few seconds. When paying with T-Money, simply tap the WOWPASS to the electronic card reader and the payment will be done.
With WOWPASS you can pay like a local in Korea as the card is issued by a Korean company. It will be accepted in locations where regular Korean cards are accepted and paying with WOWPASS is really simple. I’ve used the WOWPASS in lots of different locations across Korea, as shown below:
You can use WOWPASS to pay for entry to attractions like Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul, to pay for goods in shops, souvenirs, snacks, meals, coffees, taxis, train tickets, and lots more. With the T-Money function, you can also pay for bus and subway rides, too.
Paying with WOWPASS is really simple. Most payments in Korea are made by inserting your card into a payment terminal or on a card reader. WOWPASS can be used in both of these situations and the card was never rejected when I went to pay. It’s so easy and convenient using WOWPASS.
Get Cashback When Using WOWPASS
There are extra benefits from using WOWPASS in certain shops in Korea, including cashback when paying with WOWPASS. When you use WOWPASS in Starbucks, for example, you’ll get 10% of the value of your purchase back to your card. That means you’re getting 10% off your coffee fix.
Here are some of the other great cashback and discount offers currently available with WOWPASS:
CU Convenience Store:
1,000 KRW cashback*
Lotte Duty Free:
20,000 KRW discount and 10% cashback*
1,000 KRW cashback*
Seven Luck Casino:
60,000 KRW Casino chips*
*Terms and conditions apply.
Some cashback may only be eligible after spending a certain amount.
How To Withdraw Cash Using WOWPASS
Most purchases in Korea can be made by card, which is why WOWPASS is so helpful for travellers to Korea. However, sometimes you’ll also want to use cash to make small purchases at food stalls, leave a tip for a tour guide, or to give as spending money to children.
You can withdraw cash from your WOWPASS to spend in Korea using a WOW Exchange machine. Here’s how to withdraw cash using your WOWPASS app and a WOW Exchange machine:
1: Go To A WOW Machine
Use your WOWPASS app to locate the nearest WOW Exchange machine. There are more than 90 in Seoul and other parts of Korea.
2: Select ‘Withdraw Cash’
Choose your desired language and then select ‘Withdraw Cash’ from the 4 options on the WOW Exchange machine home screen.
3: Insert Your WOWPASS
Insert your WOWPASS card into the WOW Exchange machine so it can check your balance. Make sure to push it in firmly.
4: Open Your WOWPASS App
Open your WOWPASS App and go to the settings (cogwheel). Select ‘Manage Card’ and then ‘Verify PIN at Machine’.
5: Authenticate Your Transaction
On the WOWPASS Exchange machine, you will be asked to authenticate the transaction. Enter the PIN from the machine into your app.
6: Withdraw Cash From WOWPASS
Select the amount of cash you want to withdraw (max 100,000 KRW at once). 1,000, 10,000, and 50,000 KRW bank notes are dispensed.
Please note: There is a 1,000 KRW fee to withdraw cash from a WOW Exchange machine. This is a flat fee for each withdrawal, regardless of how much you withdraw. Global ATMs can charge considerably more for cash withdrawals from other credit or debit cards, often up to 4,000 KRW.
Learn more: Discover more options for exchanging money and ways to pay in Korea with this article about travel money in Korea and whether you should bring cash or card with you. There’s also details about alternative payment methods, including mobile apps and multi-currency cards.
How To Use The WOWPASS App
The WOWPASS app is key to using WOWPASS, from registering your card to checking balances, tracking your spending, and protecting your WOWPASS. You can see the latest exchange rates for the 16 currencies the WOWPASS accepts and see how much cashback you’ve earned.
Using The WOWPASS App To Track Your Spending
Staying on top of your spending when you’re on holiday can be really hard, especially if you’re using a foreign currency that’s very different from your home currency. Thankfully, it’s really simple to check your spending history and see your current WOWPASS balance, both in KRW and your own currency.
The WOWPASS app not only shows your current balance and transaction history, it can also show you more details about where you’ve spent money and whether the transaction was successful, refunded, or cancelled. You can also see where you earned cashback from certain vendors.
Using The WOWPASS App To Protect Or Replace Your Card
Problems can happen at any time and should the worst happen, you’ll be happy to know that you can protect and replace your WOWPASS card at any time by using the app. In the ‘Manage’ section of the app, you can see options and instructions about how to pause your WOWPASS and how to reissue it.
Pausing your WOWPASS means that the balance will be protected and no one can spend the money you put on there. If you find your card later, you can unpause your card and use it normally. If you need to reissue the card, you can do so at a WOW Exchange machine by following the instructions.
Using The WOWPASS App To Invite Your Friends
Help your friends discover the benefits and savings of WOWPASS by inviting them to join through the WOWPASS app. Both you and your friend will benefit. If your friends use an invitation code, they’ll get 0.5% cashback when they top-up. You’ll receive 1,000 KRW in WOWPASS credit to spend in Korea.
My Experience Using WOWPASS In Korea
For this review, I ordered the Airport Package with a 10-day 4G SK Telecom sim card. The sim card works really well and SK Telecom are one of the main phone companies in Korea. You can always rely on their sim cards to provide great coverage and secure network connections across Korea.
I signed up for the WOWPASS in summer 2023 and have been using the card since then to purchase goods, meals, snacks, and lots of coffee in various cities in Korea. The card has worked everywhere I’ve tried it, just the same as my regular bank card and T-Money card, which is awesome.
The WOWPASS app is convenient for checking my balance and I get a notification every time I spend money with the card. I can keep track of my spending and top it up when I need to at a nearby WOW Exchange machine. If I lose the card, I know that it’s safe as I can pause and reissue it, too.
I think the WOWPASS can be a great asset for travellers to Korea and can make their life easier.
My only criticism of the WOWPASS is it’s convenience outside of Seoul. Most of the WOW Exchange machines are located in Seoul, with a few in a couple of other major cities. However, if I am travelling outside of those locations and need to top-up, then I won’t be able to. I wish there was another way.
However, that’s not a major issue and one that I think can best be avoided by topping-up with your planned spending money when you first issue the card. I saw plenty of people adding 1,000,000 KRW balance to their card (the maximum allowed) at the airport. This seems like a sensible idea.
I hope to see more WOW Exchange machines in the future, along with more cashback opportunities for using the card in various shops. I think the WOWPASS card can be a great asset for travellers to Korea and can make their life easier. It can certainly save them some money, too.
WOWPASS Korea FAQs
Finally, here are a few FAQs about WOWPASS and how to use it in Korea, in case the above information didn’t cover enough for you. If you have any other questions you’d like to ask, feel free to leave a comment.
How Do You Top-Up WOWPASS?
You can top-up the WOWPASS at WOW Exchange machines in Seoul and other cities in Korea. At the WOW Exchange machine, you need to select ‘Top-Up Balance’ from the main screen, then insert your WOWPASS into the machine. Next, select the currency you want to top-up with and insert the currency into the machine one note at a time. When you’ve finished, take your card and your balance will be available immediately.
Where Can I Use WOWPASS?
You can use WOWPASS all over Korea in shops, cafes, restaurants, attractions, and other locations where you would normally be able to pay by card. The WOWPASS can also be used on public transport thanks to the embedded T-Money functions of the card.
Does the WOWPASS Card expire?
The WOWPASS card lasts for 6 years from the date of purchase and can be renewed by issuing a new card at a WOW Exchange machine. The balance on the WOWPASS lasts for 6 years since the last top-up date or card reissue date.
Does the WOWPASS come with T-Money?
The WOWPASS comes with embedded T-Money functions which allows you to use the card just like a T-Money card. You can use the WOWPASS to travel on Korean public transportation wherever T-Money is accepted. However, you will need to top-up your T-Money balance, which is separate from your WOWPASS balance and can be checked in the WOWPASS App.
how Do You Top-Up T-Money In WOWPASS?
You can only top-up the T-Money balance in WOWPASS by using cash and can’t transfer balances from WOWPASS to T-Money. Topping-up the T-Money balance of a WOWPASS card can be done at a convenience store or T-Money recharging station at subway or bus stations across Korea. Recharging is instant, but can only be done with cash.