We live in a world that is seemingly more and more cashless by the day. I know a number of people in the U.S. who admit they never carry cash on them. This can be done because of safety or because of different apps and automatic payments that are done by many people. So you may be surprised to learn that one of the top questions when it comes to adding funds to a T-Money card is if you can do so without having cash on you. Here is the answer that I’ve been told and have experienced here in Korea.
Yes and No.
Like many things in Korea, it is an answer of yes and no. I have gone to a 7 Eleven, CU, GS25 and to the reloading station at a subway station. The answer at all places are the same, they only take cash for adding funds to at T-Money card. You can buy a T-Money card with a credit or debit card, but you cannot add funds to said card at those locations with unless you add it with cash.
As far as I have been told, the answer is only yes to a cashless reload if you have a bank account that has the option to use it or to reload your T-Money card via your bank account. (Since I do not have a bank account at this time, this is not something that I can test out. From what I have been told, you would have to request your bank to turn on this feature in order to use it.) When asking why you can’t use a credit or debit card to reload a T-Money card, there really isn’t a good answer given. People either didn’t know, or said that they think that the people behind the card only allow it to be reloaded via cash when done in store or at a subway station.
With this in mind, you’ll want to make sure that you check your balance each time you scan your card to make sure that you have enough money to get to and from where you are going. And unless you are going to have enough Korean cash on hand for a 1 time large reload, you’ll want to be sure that you are able to use your card at an ATM in Korea. (Most ATM at busy locations will have the option to put the menu in English, as well as a few more select Asian languages. Usually the other Asian languages will be Chinese or Japanese.)
To reload at a convenience store, you can show your card and cash and the person will usually ask how much you want to load onto the card. When reloading at a reloading station in a subway station, you will be given prompts to see how much you wish to reload onto your card. (This station will have the option to change the language from Korean to English or to a different Asian language as well.) Hopefully this will change in the future and people will be able to use the same card that they used to buy a T-Money card to reload it. But until then, at least you’ll be prepared to know how to reload your card so you can travel around Seoul and beyond.