5 Things to Know About the Amalgamated Bank of Chicago Union Strong Mastercard

It offers rich rewards, a $0 annual fee, a low ongoing interest rate and benefits for union members.
Sara Rathner
By Sara Rathner 
Edited by Kenley Young

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In August 2021, ABOC sold its credit card portfolio to TCM Bank, and the ABOC Union Strong Mastercard® Credit Card is no longer accepting applications.

The ABOC Union Strong Mastercard® Credit Card offers a potentially rich rewards program, a $0 annual fee, a low ongoing interest rate and benefits for union members.

You can also show your union affiliation by electing to have your union’s logo (if available) on your card.

It shares many of the same features as the ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card.

Here are five things to know about the ABOC Union Strong Mastercard® Credit Card.

1. Earning points is easy

Cardholders earn 5 points per $1 spent on up to $1,500 in combined spending on categories that rotate every quarter (1 point per $1 spent on everything else). Current bonus categories are:

ABOC bonus rewards categories for 2021

Q1 (Jan. 1 – March 31)

  • Groceries.

  • Drugstores.

  • Health and wellness: fitness clubs, beauty and health spas, and hospitals and medical providers.

  • Veterinary services.

Q2 (April 1 – June 30)

  • Home improvement (including gardening stores and home furnishings).

  • Warehouse clubs.

  • Costco.com.

  • Walmart.com.

  • Target.com.

Q3 (July 1 – Sept. 30)

  • Dining (including restaurants and fast food).

  • Travel: airlines, rental cars, hotels, timeshares, cruises and travel agencies.

  • Transportation: gas, tolls, mass transit, taxis and ridesharing services.

  • Entertainment (including movie theaters, tourist attractions and theme parks).

Q4 (Oct. 1 – Dec. 31)

  • Dining (including restaurants and fast food).

  • Food delivery services (including DoorDash and Grubhub).

  • Groceries.

  • Liquor stores.

  • Amazon.com.

Unlike with other cards that offer 5X rotating bonus categories, ABOC says quarterly activation of those categories isn't required. Once you register via ABOCRewards.com to qualify for the bonus 5X, you're covered going forward.

The ABOC Union Strong Mastercard® Credit Card also offers a sign-up bonus: Earn $150 statement credit after you spend $1,200 on purchases within the first 90 days from account opening. There’s no cap on what you can earn, and as long as your card is open, your points don’t expire.

2. You have several redemption options, but not all are created equal

You can redeem your points through the rewards portal at ABOCRewards.com for travel, statement credits, gift cards and merchandise. You can also gift points to other ABOC members.

However, point values vary depending on what you choose to redeem them for. Travel redemption options (including flights, hotels, car rentals and vacation packages) yield the best value, at about a penny per point. Statement credit and merchandise are considerably worse values, redeeming at about 0.75 cents per point. Gift cards rates can range between 0.7 to 1 cent per point.

In short, the ABOC Union Strong Mastercard® Credit Card is a solid travel rewards option, but not a great cash-back card.

3. It offers union member-friendly benefits

The ABOC Union Strong Mastercard® Credit Card offers a unique benefit for union members that allows you to skip one or more minimum payments if:

  • You are on a union-sanctioned strike for at least 30 days and your union notifies the credit card issuer of this.

  • Your union has chosen “no-pay” option months.

Keep in mind that interest will still accrue on your unpaid balance even if you’re allowed to skip a minimum payment. However, you won’t be charged a late fee.

4. The APR is low

New cardholders can enjoy an intro 0% on Purchases for 12 months and Balance Transfers for 18 months, and then the ongoing APR of 9.25% Variable. This is one of the lowest ongoing interest rates available for a card that also offers a 0% intro APR period, making it ideal if you plan to carry a balance beyond the first year. The balance transfer fee is 3%.

Looking for other cards with 0% intro APR periods? We've got you covered.

5. It offers protection for your purchases

If an item’s price goes down after you buy it, Mastercard’s price protection feature can help. If you paid for an item with your ABOC Union Strong Mastercard® Credit Card and the price decreases within 60 days of purchase, you can file a claim for reimbursement of the difference — a helpful feature if you happen to make a large purchase right before a holiday sale, and a perk that's getting harder to find.

You can also protect your purchases beyond the manufacturer’s warranty with the card's extended warranty feature.

For additional card options, check out NerdWallet's list of the best credit cards.

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