The Union Plus Credit Card: Why You May Want to Pass

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The Union Plus Card is geared toward union members, and specifically offers discounts and benefits for union members. However, it may not be the best deal for most union members.

If you qualify for this card, then you qualify for a better card somewhere else. Never sign for a card simply because they claim to have your best interests at heart; do some research to find what’s actually best for your own lifestyle.

  • If you pay off your balance every month, you should be earning rewards to the fullest extent possible. You can score an awesome rewards credit card, which will effectively get you something like 2% rewards. The Union Plus Card pays no rewards.
  • The main perk advertised by this card is access to “exclusive discounts”, yet most other issuers offer similar, if not better, discounts through their own online credit card malls.
  • If you don’t pay off your balances every month, you can find a low interest card geared towards your own level of credit.
  • Either way, you can get a card with no annual fee, instead of this card’s annual fee of $0 to $39.

  • The Union Plus Card earns no rewards. Even many tiny neighborhood credit unions offer rewards. This means by using this card, you’re losing out on rebates of at least 1-2% on every dollar you spend.
  • Instead, you get benefits that can be found almost anywhere. Like access to a coupon center. See for yourself.
  • The UnionSafe hardship assistance advertised here really has nothing to do with your credit card, and is a benefit that almost any union member can apply for, as far as we can tell.
  • The upfront balance transfer fee and cash advance fee of can be high. These fees are generally 3% or less at other banks.

I apply for this many new cards:

Union plus award card

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Union Plus Prepaid Card: 5% Savings Account FDIC Insured

[Update in September 2015: Union Plus prepaid debit card closed. Existing customers will get a refund.]

If you liked Mango Prepaid card with its 6% savings account (4.6% after taking into account idle cash) but you wished you could put in more than $5,000, here’s another one that does pretty much the same thing.

It’s called Union Plus prepaid debit card. It’s run by the same parent company as Mango, just marketed through a different channel with a slightly different configuration.

Like Mango, you open the savings account after you get the prepaid card. The savings account pays 5.1% APY for balance up to $5,000. Balance over $5,000 earns 0.1%. You must have recurring deposit into the card in order to keep the 5.1% rate on the savings account. I’m not clear how much in recurring deposit is needed but $50/month will probably do, as in Mango.

Although the rate on the savings account is lower than Mango’s (5.1% APY vs 6% APY), the monthly fee is also lower: only $2/month vs $3/month on Mango. It’s also possible to have the $2 monthly fee waived by a direct deposit of $500 or more every month. Unions’ collective bargaining power might have something to do with it? At only $2 a month, you may decide to just keep the monthly transfers at $50 and pay the fee.

Taking into account the initial $5,000, the monthly $50, and the $2 monthly fee, the effective net yield comes out to 3.8% on an average balance of $5,300.

Same as what you do with Mango, if it bothers you that your monthly recurring deposits plus interest earned pile up there earning nothing, you can withdraw them. You don’t have to withdraw more frequently than once a year.

Earning 3.8% sure beats earning less than 1%. If you are married you can get one card for each person and double the amount on which you earn 3.8% to $10k. Although it’s marketed through labor unions, you don’t have to submit any proof of union membership.

Adding up both Mango and Union Plus prepaid cards, a married couple can have $20k earning 4%+ FDIC insured. They make more than twice as much as I Bonds at this time.

[Photo Credit: Flickr user aflcio]

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