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The Union Bank Rewards Visa Credit Card is a rewards credit card with no annual fee. It combines aspects of the best cash back rewards cards with entry-level travel rewards credit cards. Users earn 2 points per $1 spent at grocery stores, up to $6,000 in annual spending in that category. All other purchases, including grocery store purchases above the $6,000 annual spending cap, earn unlimited 1 point per $1 spent.
Though there are some important differences, this card’s rewards scheme resembles popular cash back cards such as the BankAmericard Cash Rewards Credit Card and Blue Cash Everyday from American Express.
The Union Bank Rewards Visa Credit Card has some other perks too. Its 12-month, 0% APR balance transfer promotion is paired with a special introductory balance transfer fee, making it a solid candidate for new cardholders looking to transfer existing high-interest credit card balances. It also has an attainable, though not overly generous, sign-up bonus.
If you’re looking for a no-annual-fee rewards credit card that pays you to make everyday purchases, Union Bank Rewards Visa Credit Card is worth a closer look. Here’s what you need to know about its features, benefits, downsides, and suitability.
Following your first purchase, you get a one-time bonus of 2,500 points. Depending on your redemption method, that’s worth up to $37.50.
Earning Rewards Points
The Union Bank Rewards Visa Credit Card earns 2 points per $1 spent on the first $6,000 in annual grocery store spending. All other purchases, including grocery store purchases above the $6,000 annual spending threshold, earn 1 point per $1 spent.
Redeeming Rewards Points
You can redeem your accumulated points for principal reduction payments on Union Bank mortgages, credit card statement credits, direct deposits into a Union Bank checking or savings account (see how Union Bank’s account options compare against our best bank account promotions), travel purchases, general merchandise, exclusive experiences, and gift cards.
When redeemed for credit card statement credits, points are worth $0.01 apiece at redemption. When redeemed for cash back deposits, they’re worth $0.0125 apiece. When redeemed for mortgage payments, they’re worth $0.015 apiece – the best possible value with this card. Other redemption options assign variable values to points, usually in the neighborhood of $0.01 apiece or less.
There is no stated redemption minimum or maximum for any redemption type, though Union Bank reserves the right to impose such restrictions at any time. And remember that no matter how you choose to redeem, using your points wisely can be a great way to save money on a tight budget.
The Union Bank Rewards Visa Credit Card has a 12-month, 0% APR introductory promotion on balance transfers. However, there is no comparable promotion for purchases.
Once the introductory period ends, this card’s balance transfer APR rises to range between 15.49% and 25.49%, depending on your personal creditworthiness and prevailing interest rates at the time of the transition. The purchase APR falls within the same range from the day you open your account. Going forward, the rate is variable (subject to change with prevailing interest rates).
On your account opening date, the cash advance APR is set at 26.49%, but can also vary with prevailing rates. The penalty APR is set at 29.99%. If these rates are too high for you, check out our best low-APR credit cards for better deals.
The Union Bank Rewards Visa Credit Card has no annual fee. Foreign transactions cost 3% of the transaction amount. Balance transfers cost the greater of $10 or 3% for the first 12 months your account is open. Following the 12-month mark, the balance transfer fee rises to the greater of $10 or 5%. Cash advances cost the greater of $15 or 5%. Late payments cost $37, while returned payments cost $35.
Overdraft Protection for Union Bank Deposit Accountholders
If you have a checking account with Union Bank, you can use your credit card to protect against overdrafts.
Once you opt into Union Bank’s overdraft protection service, transactions that would typically result in negative account balances or fail due to insufficient funds instead trigger automatic cash advances from your Union Bank Rewards Visa Credit Card cash advance credit line. These advances, which occur at the end of the business day on which the negative balance would have taken place, allow the transactions to go through as intended. Each transfer costs $10. If multiple transfers occur on the same business day, only one daily $10 fee is charged.
Since overdraft protection transfers start accruing interest at the cash advance rate as soon as they’re executed, it’s in your best interest to pay them off as quickly as possible. Remember that your cash advance credit line is likely lower than your spending limit for purchases, so the overdraft protection program’s utility may be restricted for larger purchases.
Free FICO Score
Every month, you get a free FICO score in your account dashboard. This is an excellent way to keep up on your credit profile, avoid the consequences of bad credit, and find ways to improve your credit score.
Visa-Backed Cardholder Benefits
This card comes with a slew of Visa-backed benefits. The most noteworthy include:
- Emergency lost card replacement
- Auto rental collision damage waiver
- Extended warranties (up to 1 additional year) on certain purchases
- Purchase protection for 90 days on certain registered items
- Cell phone protection coverage when you pay your cell phone bill with your credit card (subject to deductibles and maximum coverages)
- 24/7 roadside assistance
Union Bank Rewards Visa Credit Card is meant for consumers with good to excellent credit. Any serious credit issues in the recent past, such as personal bankruptcy, are likely to disqualify your application.
- No Annual Fee. Union Bank Rewards Visa Credit Card has no annual fee. This makes it suitable for occasional use, no matter how much you spend. If you want to keep this card in your wallet for use only at the grocery store, more power to you.
- Points Worth $0.015 When Used for Mortgage Payments. When you redeem your accumulated points for principal reduction payments on your Union Bank mortgage, you effectively get a 50% bonus on their base value ($0.01). Each point knocks $0.015 off your mortgage principal, so a 5,000-point redemption would reduce your mortgage balance by $75. Principal reduction payments also reduce your total mortgage interest costs, compounding (literally) the long-term benefits of each such redemption.
- Points Worth $0.0125 When Redeemed for Bank Account Deposits. Bank account deposit redemptions boost point values by 25%. Each point redeemed into your Union Bank checking or savings account is worth $0.0125, so a 5,000-point redemption would be worth $62.50.
- Solid Balance Transfer Promotion. This card’s introductory balance transfer promotion is pretty good. Not only does it waive interest on transferred balances for 12 months from sign-up, but it also cuts the balance transfer fee from the greater of $10 or 5% to the greater of $10 or 3%.
- Visa-Backed Benefits. This card has a very good lineup of Visa-backed benefits, including cell phone protection, purchase protection, extended warranty coverage, complimentary damage insurance on rental cars paid in full with the card, 24/7 roadside assistance, and more. Many are entirely free – you don’t have to pay to invoke them.
- Mediocre Earning Rate. Union Bank Rewards Visa Credit Card earns points at a relatively low rate. Most purchases accrue just 1 point per $1 spent – a rewards rate of 1% to 1.5%, depending on how you redeem. If you’re looking for a generous everyday spending card, you can do better. Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card earns unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases, while Citi Double Cash Card earns unlimited 2% cash back.
- Poor Bonus Categories. Aside from grocery stores, this card doesn’t have any bonus spending categories. If you’re looking for opportunities to boost your returns on specific types of spending, look for cards with tiered spending categories. For instance, Blue Cash Preferred from American Express returns up to 6% back at supermarkets and offers time-limited promotions that promise even greater returns (such as 10% back at restaurants – a great way to save money when eating out). Cards like Chase Freedom have rotating 5% cash back categories that change each quarter.
- No Monthly or Annual Point Bonuses. This card has no monthly or annual point bonuses. In light of the low baseline earning rate, that’s a real missed opportunity. By contrast, Flagstar Visa Bonus Rewards PLUS Card automatically boosts point earnings by 50% each month.
- Low Sign-up Bonus. This card has a mediocre sign-up bonus – just 2,500 points, for a maximum value of $37.50 when redeemed for mortgage principal reduction payments. Plenty of competitors, including Chase Freedom Unlimited, are better in this department.
- 3% Foreign Transaction Fee. Union Bank Rewards Visa Credit Card has a 3% foreign transaction fee. If you regularly travel outside the United States, this is a big drawback, as it more than negates any potential point earnings on spending.
- Charges Penalty Interest. This card’s penalty interest rate is set at 29.99%. If you’ve missed payments in the past due to liquidity issues or unexpected expenses, look for cards that don’t charge penalty interest – for instance, Discover it Chrome.
Most people have never heard of Union Bank. That’s not surprising, as the United States is rife with low-key regional banks.
Turns out Union Bank has a pretty dense branch network on the West Coast – specifically in California, Oregon, and Washington State. It also operates a national wholesale banking operation for consumers and businesses seeking credit and financing. Plus it has a wealth management arm.
Even if you’ve never heard of Union Bank and can’t find a branch in your area, the company’s credit cards – or its personal and business banking services – are still an option.