5 Things to Know About the Union Plus Credit Card

You can qualify for hardship grants while displaying your labor union loyalty, but most people would do better with a general rewards card.
Craig Joseph
By Craig Joseph 
Edited by Erin Hurd

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Union Plus is a nonprofit organization that offers financial products and other benefit programs exclusively to union members and their families. One of its offerings is the Union Plus Credit Card, issued by Capital One.

Applicants can choose from one of three versions of the $0-annual-fee card to fit their individual needs. There’s a preapproval process to see if you qualify, with no impact to your credit score. And cardholders may qualify for hardship grants in the case of unexpected life events, like a job loss or hospitalization.

Here are five things to know about the Union Plus Credit Card.

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The Union Plus Credit Card is available to dues-paying members (including family members) of over 75 participating labor unions, retired labor union members and members of Working America.

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1. There are three versions of the card

Applicants for the Union Plus Credit Card can apply for one of three varieties of the card, each of which has a $0 annual fee.

The Union Plus Primary Access Credit Card is marketed as a credit builder card that can help you improve your credit through responsible use. However, according to Capital One, it requires good credit (FICO score of 690 to 719) to qualify. That’s a high bar for people new to or rebuilding their credit when compared with other credit builder cards.

Citibank Simplicity Credit Card
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The Union Plus Rate Advantage Credit Card offers an introductory 0% interest rate for the first 15 months on purchases and balance transfers (balance transfers will still incur a fee based on the transfer amount). After the intro period, your interest rate will increase to 16.15%, 22.15%, or 26.15% depending on your creditworthiness. You’ll need excellent credit (FICO score of 720 to 850) to qualify. While this isn’t a bad offer, there are better 0% APR offers out there.

For example, the Citi Simplicity® Card requires good to excellent credit (FICO score of 690 to 850) and offers the following longer introductory APR offer: 0% Intro APR for 21 months on Balance Transfers and 12 months on Purchases, and then the ongoing APR of 19.24%-29.99% Variable APR.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card
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The Union Plus Cash Rewards Credit Card, which requires excellent credit (FICO score of 720 to 850) to qualify, is the only version that lets cardholders earn rewards, including 1.5% cash back on all qualifying purchases. New cardholders will also get an introductory 0% APR for the first 12 months on purchases and balance transfers (18.15%, 24.15%, or 27.99% variable APR after that).

While that's not bad, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card offers a higher cash-back rate and a longer introductory APR offer. You'll earn 5% back on travel booked through Chase Travel, 3% cash back on restaurants and drug store purchases, and 1.5% cash back on all other eligible purchases, in addition to a 0% intro APR on purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 20.49%-29.24% Variable APR.

2. You may be eligible for hardship grants

Unexpected hardships like an illness or job loss can be tough on many levels. But holders of any version of the Union Plus Credit Card may qualify for grants that help ease the financial burden incurred from specific hardships.

There are four types of grants that cardholders can access after three months of card ownership.

  • Disability grant: provides $1,600 to $2,700 to eligible cardholders who have income loss from a long-term illness or disability.

  • Hospital grant: assists eligible cardholders with large unreimbursed hospital expenses, up to $1,200.

  • Job loss and furlough grant: helps cardholders who recently have been laid off or furloughed, up to $500.

  • Strike grant: provides up to $500 in assistance for eligible cardholders who are involved in a union-sanctioned strike or lockout.

These grants are administered through the AFL-CIO. Cardholders can qualify for up to three grants in their lifetime and no more than one grant of each type per year.

3. There’s a preapproval process

When you apply for a credit card, the card issuer generally conducts a hard inquiry on your credit report to determine your creditworthiness. This can cause a temporary decrease in your credit scores, which can sting if you apply for a card and are declined.

But the Union Plus Credit Card lets you go through a preapproval process to see if you qualify for a card before incurring that hard inquiry. This can give you peace of mind when you decide to submit an application.

4. You get access to discounts or rebates

Union Plus cardholders can keep more of what they earn with rebates and discounts at specific retailers, including AT&T, Teleflora, Avis and Budget. Additionally, all three versions of the card run on the Mastercard payment network, allowing you to use the card almost anywhere and receive complimentary identity theft protection, among other benefits.

5. You won’t earn a sign-up bonus

Wells Fargo Active Cash Card
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Showing loyalty to your labor union through Union Plus card membership comes at a cost, since new cardholders won’t earn a lucrative sign-up bonus.

A better option would be the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card, which gives new cardholders the following introductory offer: Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases in the first 3 months. You’ll also earn 2% cash back on all qualifying purchases and qualify for the following: 0% intro APR on Purchases for 15 months and 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers 15 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 20.24%, 25.24%, or 29.99% Variable APR.

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