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UNITY Visa Secured Credit Card Review

I’ve gotten several requests for a review of the UNITY Visa Secured Credit Card. This card’s tagline is “The Comeback Card.” Well, I do like a card that displays a little attitude and confidence.
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The Unity Visa Secured card is issued by OneUnited Bank. I like the effort on the card’s home page to distinguish between the Unity Visa  and prepaid cards. It’s a common misconception that prepaid cards help you build credit, but they do not. Secured cards do help you build a credit history as long as the issuer reports your payment history to the bureaus.
The good news is that your payment history with UNITY Visa Secured Credit Card is reported to all three credit bureaus. So use this card responsibly, and you can rebuild or establish your credit history.
I don’t know if this card is reported to the credit bureaus as “secured” or “unsecured.” I know that’s often a concern for those of you choosing a secured card. If any of you have this card and you know the answer, please share it with us in the Comments section below. We’d all be grateful!
For some lenders, a secured card might make them wonder if you’re creditworthy. But other lenders might see this as proof you’re serious about rebuilding or establishing credit. If you’d like more details about how FICO scores treat secured credit cards, check out this post: Does the FICO Score Treat Secured Credit Cards Differently? I think this post will make you feel better about cards reported as “secured.”

Rates and fees

The Unity Visa card is quite different from other cards when it comes to interest rates. Most card have variable rates, but the Unity Visa offers a fixed rate. But don’t let that put stars in your eyes.
Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean it can never become a variable APR. It totally can as long as the issuer follows the rules set by the CARD Act of 2009. I think there’s an assumption that it has to remain fixed, so I just wanted to make that clear so no one thinks they’ve got a lifetime fixed rate.
The rates and fees are in a tiny box. Click on the “View Printer Friendly” link so you can actually see the numbers. Just hit “Cancel” after you read it (unless you really want to print it out).
APR for purchases: You get a fixed rate of 17.99 percent.
Balance transfers: You get a fixed rate of 9.95 percent for six months. After that, you get a fixed rate of 17.99 percent.  There’s a 3 percent transfer fee.
Annual fee: It’s $39.
APR for cash advances: You get a fixed rate of 17.99 percent. The transaction fee is 3 percent. Interest on a cash advance starts ticking right away, so just say no to a cash advance. Seriously, don’t do this.
Foreign transaction fees: There’s a 2 percent transfer fee.
Deposit required: You deposit a minimum of $250 and a maximum of $10,000. No interest is earned.
Credit limit: Your limit will match your deposit amount. Note that there’s a $10 credit limit increase fee.
Fees: Pay late and there’s a fee of up to $10. For a returned payment, the fee is up to $25. There’s no over-the-credit-limit fee.
More fees (snark alert): The fee for an expedited card delivery is $35. The stop payment fee is $25. As mentioned above, there’s a “credit limit increase” fee of $10. You know what? I don’t like credit limit increase fees. I mean, you’re using your own money to increase the deposit so that you can increase your limit.
It doesn’t seem right to say, “Okay, give us more money for your deposit so you can have a higher limit. And then give us $10 more so we’ll say it’s okay to have a higher credit limit.”
Here’s my favorite non-fee (more snark ahead): There isn’t a fee for customer service by phone. It’s free. Well, gosh, thank you for not making folks pay to ask questions! This is actually listed in the “Other Fees” section of the “Fees and Rates” information.
It seems like we’re increasingly living in a society where we’re supposed to be grateful if someone we’re doing business with is willing to answer questions about the product. That should be a standard feature, not a freaking benefit.

The bottom line

The UNITY Visa Secured Credit Card has a good APR, and overall, it isn’t a bad card based on the numbers. I think there are better secured cards out there, but there are also far worse secured credit cards out there.
There are two things I discovered from doing some Google searches. There’s a lot of criticism about the issuer taking away the online payment feature. So if you’re counting on that, you need to know this card doesn’t offer it. But you might be able to use your bank’s bill pay instead.
I also read a lot of complaints about customer service. I’m just letting you know. Honestly, almost every bank will have complaints now and then, but this was more than a few and on several different sites. That doesn’t mean this will happen to you, just be aware of it and don’t hesitate to ask to speak with a manager if you aren’t getting the help you need from a customer service rep.
I’m placing this card near the top of the middle-tier in my post, the Best (and Worst) Secured Credit Cards. If I hear from many of you who are happy with the card, it might move up. See how much power you guys have? My goal was for the secured credit card list to be the result of my expert opinion and your actual experiences. So when y’all leave comments and share information, it’s truly valuable and much appreciated by me and the rest of the readers here.
Note: Credit card agreements change frequently. So my review is based on the information that I believed to be in effect today. Be sure you read all the disclosure statements carefully before applying for a credit card.