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OneUnited Bank’s UNITY Secured Credit Card: The Comeback Card

July 25, 2014
Credit Cards, Credit Cards for Bad Credit
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The UNITY Visa® Secured Credit Card is designed to help you come back from your past credit mistakes. What’s more, it aims to help its users come back in all aspects of life as the economy improves, according to OneUnited Bank President Teri Williams.

The card is secured, not prepaid, and comes with a “How to Rebuild Credit” program. It offers 9.95% on balance transfers for 6 months, and then the ongoing APR of 17.99% (Fixed) and an annual fee of $39. It is meant to serve as an interim card — a card to bring you from poor credit to good credit before moving on to an unsecured credit card.

The market for prepaid cards has been growing rapidly, but Williams says she hopes “the market for secured cards continues to increase to help get people back on track.”

UNITY Visa® Secured Credit Card

UNITY Visa® Secured Credit Card

Apply Now on One United Bank's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 300
    Poor - Average
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • Qualify with limited / bad credit
    • 9.95% on balance transfers for 6 months


    • Has annual fee
    • No rewards

    Annual Fees



    • APR: 17.99% (Fixed)
    • Cash Advance APR: 17.99%

    Bonus Offers


    Intro APR

    • 9.95% on balance transfers for 6 months
  • Additional Information
    • No Minimum Credit Score required; low interest rate of 17.99%
    • Apply online in less than 5 minutes, and you could be approved today!
    • Fully refundable FDIC security deposit* required at time of application; if you have a min of $250 to deposit immediately, you can start now!
    • Build your credit with monthly reporting to all 3 major credit bureaus

Come back from bad credit with UNITY

The UNITY Visa® Secured Credit Card is offered by OneUnited Bank, an African-American-owned bank in Boston. OneUnited was the nation’s first African-American online bank and it has loaned millions of dollars to low- to moderate-income communities. While it isn’t the bank’s first credit card, the UNITY Visa® Secured Credit Card is OneUnited’s primary focus because it helps people with poor credit improve their financial standing.

Williams pointed out what sets the card apart. “The UNITY card has a higher limit ($10,000) than other secured cards,” she says. “Also, OneUnited Bank uses social media to share information and connect with customers.” In this day of constant connection via social media platforms, it’s more important than ever that companies get online and respond to their customers in real time. OneUnited Bank understands this and stays connected on Facebook and Twitter, she says.

Secured credit cards are backed by a cash deposit equal to your limit. For the UNITY Visa® Secured Credit Card, the limit ranges from $250 to $10,000, depending on your ability to pay and your security deposit. Unlike a prepaid debit card, secured cards generally don’t come with fees for every little thing from activating the card to reloading it.

Also, unlike a prepaid debit card, your on-time payments on this card will be reported to the three credit bureaus. Provided you make at least the minimum payment each month, this will improve your poor or average credit score.

If you’re worried about not being able to use your secured card at your favorite retailers, don’t be. A secured card is indistinguishable from an unsecured card and can be used for the same things, including for deposit-based purchases like renting a car.

How much will this cost me?

The UNITY Visa® Secured Credit Card doesn’t have an application fee or penalty rates. It has a fixed interest rate, whereas most secured cards on the market have variable rates. Fees include a $39 annual fee, a late payment fee of up to $10, and a credit limit increase fee of $10.

What’s the “How to Rebuild Credit Program”?

If you have poor credit, but strive for a good score, the How to Rebuild Credit Program can help you get there. It recommends many of the same things we do at NerdWallet, including pulling your credit reports for free, making more than the minimum monthly payment and always paying your bills on time.

Why should you bother to build your credit? Excellent credit scores will get you the best terms on future loans, as well as help you qualify for assorted needs, including cell phones, apartments or jobs. The UNITY Visa® Secured Credit Card seeks to help open the opportunities that come with great credit.

At the time of this writing, OneUnited offers workshops on improving credit in its local markets of Boston, Miami and Los Angeles. The bank would like to expand its reach with webinars to help people across the country understand their credit. OneUnited aims to educate its customers about credit, rather than just hand them a credit card and expect them to figure it out on their own, according to Williams.

How does UNITY stack up to other secured cards?

DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card: The DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card beats the UNITY Visa® Secured Credit Card in fees and rates. It has an annual fee of $0 and offers a lower APR: The ongoing APR is 11.50% Variable. That makes it a cheaper option than the UNITY Visa® Secured Credit Card. However, the DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card requires membership at Digital Federal Credit Union and an open savings account there. The UNITY Visa® Secured Credit Card doesn’t have such stipulations.

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®: The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® requires initial deposits as low as $49 for a $200 limit. This may be preferable if you find the $250 minimum deposit on the UNITY Visa® Secured Credit Card too steep. The Capital One® Secured Mastercard®’s annual fee is $0. The ongoing APR is 26.99% Variable APR variable and this is where it falls short of the UNITY Visa® Secured Credit Card.

Discover it® Secured: The Discover it® Secured is a rare secured credit card that offers rewards. Cardholders earn 2% cash back on up to $1,000 in spending per quarter at restaurants and gas stations, and 1% back on everything else. The annual fee is $0, but the interest rates are higher than what you’d get with the UNITY Visa® Secured Credit Card.

Bottom line: Should I get it?

The UNITY Visa® Secured Credit Card is a good option for those trying to make a comeback with their credit or build their credit for the first time. It offers a wide range of limits, a fixed interest rate and a program to help you rebuild your credit. Taken together, it’s a solid choice if you want to bring your credit from a cloudy past to a bright future.