The Amalgamated Bank of Chicago 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.
It shares many of the same features as the Amalgamated Bank of Chicago Platinum Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card, but you must be a union member or “supporter” — which the application does not define — and have good to excellent credit to qualify for the Amalgamated Bank of Chicago Union Strong Mastercard® Credit Card.
Here are five things to know about this card:
1. Earning points is easy
In early 2019, both the Amalgamated Bank of Chicago Union Strong Mastercard® Credit Card and the Amalgamated Bank of Chicago Platinum Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card underwent a drastic revamp, moving from a basic earnings rate of 1 point per $1 spent to a rotating-bonus-category structure.
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). For 2019, the bonus categories are:
- Jan. 1 through March 31: Grocery, pharmacy and restaurant purchases.
- April 1 through June 30: Home improvement, home supply, warehouse and wholesale club purchases.
- July 1 through Sept. 30: Airline, cruise, car rental, hotel and travel agency purchases.
- Oct. 1 through Dec. 31: Auto parts, service and repair purchases.
ABOC says quarterly activation isn’t required. Once you register via ABOCRewards.com to qualify for the bonus 5X, you’re covered going forward.
The Amalgamated Bank of Chicago 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 Amalgamated Bank of Chicago Union Strong Mastercard® Credit Card is not a great cash-back option.
3. It offers union member-friendly benefits
The Amalgamated Bank of Chicago 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 0% Intro APR for 12 months on Purchase and Balance Transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 10.75% 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.
Looking for other low-interest options or 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 Amalgamated Bank of Chicago 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.