Union Bank Secured Visa® Card
- Sign-up Bonus: None
- Rewards: None
- Benefits: Free FICO score every month; complimentary rental car insurance; purchase security on select purchases; emergency card replacement; extended warranties on select purchases
- Fees: 5% balance transfer fee (minimum $10)
- Annual Fee: $25
- Credit Needed: Below average
The Union Bank Secured Visa® Card is a secured credit card with a $25 annual fee. Though it didn’t make our list of the Best Secured Credit Cards to Rebuild Credit, it has some user-friendly features that warrant a closer look. In fact, it’s explicitly designed for folks seeking to build or rebuild their credit after financial setbacks such as personal bankruptcy or foreclosure.
Like all secured credit cards, Union Bank Secured Visa requires applicants to deposit funds into a secured, FDIC-insured collateral account. You need to deposit at least $300, and your deposit is always equal to your credit limit. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck and relying on money hacks to survive, know that you won’t see your deposit back until you close your account and pay off any outstanding balance in full.
The upside: Union Bank faithfully reports your payments and credit utilization patterns to the three major credit reporting bureaus each month. If you use your card responsibly and make timely payments, your credit will likely improve over time.
Union Bank Secured Visa comes with one big caveat: You have to apply for it in person, at a Union Bank branch. Union Bank has plenty of locations in California, Oregon, and Washington State, but its coverage is pretty thin elsewhere.
Interested in rebuilding your credit with a secured credit card? Here’s what you need to know about Union Bank Secured Visa Card’s features, advantages, downsides, and overall suitability.
Initial Deposit Requirement and Refund
Once your application for credit has been conditionally approved, you’ll be asked to make a deposit into your collateral account. Your deposit must be at least $300 and cannot exceed $5,000. Within those constraints, you’re free to deposit as much or as little as you’d like.
Your deposit is always equal to your credit limit: a $1,000 deposit equates to a $1,000 spending limit, regardless of your credit profile.
As noted, you can’t access your deposit account’s balance until your card balance is paid off in full and your account closed. However, if you upgrade to an unsecured Union Bank card, Union Bank may convert your collateral account to a traditional, interest-bearing savings account from which you’re free to make withdrawals.
Credit Limit Increases
To increase your credit limit, you need to make an additional deposit into your collateral account. You don’t have to apply for a limit increase beforehand, but you also can’t exceed the $5,000 cap on collateral account balances under any circumstances.
Credit Bureau Reporting
Every billing cycle, Union Bank reports your payment patterns and credit utilization to Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion – the three major American consumer credit reporting bureaus. This will likely increase your credit score over time, provided you pay your bill before the statement due date and utilize credit responsibly.
If you need more help improving your credit, check out our post outlining 7 steps to rebuilding your credit.
Overdraft Protection for Union Bank Deposit Accountholders
If you have a checking account with Union Bank, you can use your Union Bank Secured Visa Card protect against overdrafts.
To get started, opt into Union Bank’s overdraft protection service. Once you’re enrolled, transactions that would result in negative account balances or fail due to insufficient funds instead trigger automatic cash advances from your Union Bank Secured Visa Card’s cash advance credit line. These advances occur at the end of the business day on which the offending transactions take place and allow those transactions to go through as intended. Each transfer costs $10. Only one daily $10 fee is charged on days when multiple transfers occur.
Some caution is in order here: since overdraft protection transfers start accruing interest at the cash advance interest rate (26.49%) as soon as they’re executed, it’s in your best interest to pay them off as quickly as possible. Also, keep in mind that your card’s cash advance credit line is lower than your credit limit for purchases, and you can’t borrow more than your collateral account deposit in any case. As such, the overdraft protection program may not be sufficient for very large purchases.
The Union Bank Secured Visa Card has a $25 annual fee. The foreign transaction fee is 3%. Balance transfers cost the greater of $10 or 5%, while cash advances cost the greater of $15 or 5%. Late payments cost $37, while returned payments cost up to $35.
Free FICO Score
Your account comes with a free FICO score. You can access it in your only account dashboard. The score refreshes monthly, allowing you to keep track of potential credit issues and look for ways to improve your credit.
This card comes with a slew of useful fringe benefits, most of which cost nothing to invoke. The most noteworthy include:
- Purchase protection on certain items lost or stolen within 90 days of purchase
- Complimentary loss and damage coverage on rental cars charged in full to the card
- Extended warranties on certain purchased items already covered by manufacturers’ warranties
Union Bank Secured Visa Card is designed for people with below average credit. However, a very recent bankruptcy may jeopardize your application.
- Choose Your Credit Limit. Union Bank lets you set your credit limit by depositing anywhere from $300 to $5,000 (in $50 increments) when you open your account. In other words, you’re not beholden to the bank’s underwriting team. If you can afford a higher credit limit, it’s yours.
- High Spending Limit. Union Bank Secured Visa Card has a fairly high maximum credit limit of $5,000. If you have ample cash for a security deposit, but your credit isn’t where you’d like it to be, this card can help you maximize your spending power.
- Overdraft Protection for Union Bank Deposit Accountholders. If you’re a Union Bank deposit account holder, you can take advantage of the company’s optional overdraft protection transfer service for just $10 per transfer. This is a great way to prevent your low checking account balance from impeding your everyday spending and bill-paying activities.
- Solid Visa-Backed Benefits. Most secured credit cards are light on the fringe benefits, but not Union Bank Secured Visa. This card has a nice lineup of Visa-backed benefits, including complimentary insurance on rental cars paid in full with the card and extended warranties on certain purchased items. With regular use, these benefits can combine to save you hundreds of dollars per year.
- Builds Credit With Responsible Use. Every month, Union Bank reports your payment patterns (or lack thereof) and credit utilization to the three major credit reporting bureaus. As long as you pay your bills on time and avoid overspending, you’re likely to improve your credit score over time.
- $25 Annual Fee. The Union Bank Secured Visa Card has a $25 annual fee. While that’s not a crushing levy in the grand scheme of things, it’s noteworthy in light of the total lack of a rewards program. Though SunTrust Secured Credit Card also has an annual fee, it’s offset by the potential to earn up to 2% cash back on certain purchases.
- No Rewards. As noted, this card lacks a rewards program. Aside from the SunTrust product referenced here, secured credit cards that offer returns on spending include the nRewards® Secured Credit Card from Navy Federal Credit Union (up to 1% cash back) and the Discover it Secured Card (up to 2% cash back). If earning a return on your spending is important to you, check out our current list of the best cash back credit cards roundup.
- No Sign-up or Annual Bonus. This card also lacks a sign-up or annual bonus. Discover it Secured Card doubles all cash back earned in your first year as a cardholder. That’s not a bad welcome gift!
- No Interest on Deposits. Your deposits don’t earn any interest here. While it’s unusual for collateral accounts to pay out generous interest, something is better than nothing.
- Relatively High Initial Deposit Requirement. The Union Bank Secured Visa Card requires a $300 minimum initial deposit. That’s higher than some popular alternatives. For instance, Capital One Secured Mastercard requires a measly $49 opening deposit, though you’re of course free to put down far more than that. When every dollar counts, this is an important consideration that could affect your ultimate choice.
- Charges Penalty Interest. This card charges penalty interest at 29.99% APR. That’s potentially ruinous for cardholders who miss their statement due dates due to liquidity issues or unexpected events. Some competitors, including Capital One Secured Mastercard, forgo penalty interest – a very user-friendly move.
- Has a 3% Foreign Transaction Fee. Union Bank Secured Visa has a 3% foreign transaction fee. If you routinely travel outside the United States, this can quickly add up, especially since there’s no rewards program to offset some of the losses.
- Must Apply at a Branch. This card requires you to apply in person at a Union Bank branch. If you don’t live on the West Coast, this is likely to be difficult or impossible. Consider signing up instead for one of the many secured cards without in-person application requirements, such as the Citi Secured Mastercard or BankAmericard Secured Credit Card.
- No Introductory APR Promotion. This card has no introductory APR promotion. That’s a big drawback for applicants looking to finance large purchases (such as home improvement projects) or transfer existing high-interest credit card balances and pay down debt quickly.
Union Bank is just one of many under-the-radar regional banks operating in the United States. I’d never heard of it before beginning research on its credit cards. But I soon discovered that it’s pretty well-known in on the West Coast, and its commercial banking operations touch every corner of the country.
If you live in California, Oregon, or Washington, and you’re intrigued by Union Bank Secured Visa’s potential, I’d recommend stopping by a branch. Even if you decide the card isn’t right for you, a checking or savings account with Union Bank could be just what the accountant ordered.
Union Bank Secured Visa® Card
The Union Bank Secured Visa® Card is a solid choice for applicants who live on the West Coast and can afford the $300 minimum opening deposit. It’s not ideal for folks set on earning rewards for every dollar they spend, nor those who can’t make it to a branch to apply in person.
Key benefits include the ability to choose your own credit limit and raise it at will, the fairly high spending limit ($5,000), the optional overdraft protection transfer service, the generous Visa-backed benefits, and the likelihood that your credit score will rise with responsible use.
Important drawbacks include the $25 annual fee, the lack of a rewards program, the lack of a sign-up or annual bonus, the lack of interest on deposits, the $300 initial deposit requirement, the 29.99% APR penalty interest, the 3% foreign transaction fee, the caveat that you must apply at a branch, and no introductory APR promotion.
Overall, this is a solid secured credit card option for people who live in Union Bank’s West Coast homeland. National institutions like Capital One and Citibank offer better choices for everyone else.