UNITY Visa® Secured Credit Card

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Secured cards rarely have a balance transfer offer, but this one does.

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If you have no credit history, you could do considerably worse than the UNITY Visa Secured Credit Card.

It has two features not commonly found in secured credit cards: a fixed-rate APR of 17.99% on purchases and a six-month introductory APR of 9.95% on balance transfers, after which it’s the same fixed rate as purchases. But because your credit limit is tied to your deposit, we’re unsure what value a balance transfer has here for most people.

Review

Offered through Boston-based OneUnited Bank, the UNITY Visa Secured Credit Card offers some meaty features — starting with that fixed-rate APR. What would really make this card shine is if it let you eventually graduate to an unsecured card — the holy grail of secured credit cards.

We like that it isn’t laden with hidden fees and charges, and if you need it, you can get a hefty credit limit. The range is from $250 to $10,000 — it’s up to you how much as the amount you put into a security deposit is 100% of your credit limit. Want a five-figure limit? Then be prepared to fork over the cash.

Also, know that you’ll hand over $39 annually for the right to own the card. Although fee-free is ideal, we’re happy that this card doesn’t also tack on the gratuitous “maintenance” charges like some competitors.

There are other secured credit cards that have no ownership fees and offer rewards, too, so unless you’re looking to take advantage of UNITY’s balance transfer offer, you’d likely be better off with one of those.

Who should get this card

Anyone looking to build or rebuild credit and wants access to a high credit limit should consider the UNITY Visa Secured Credit Card.

Advantages
  • The maximum credit limit is $10,000, which is higher than that of most other secured cards.
  • Late payments won’t affect your APR.
Disadvantages
  • The amount you put into a security deposit is 100% of your credit limit, so if you want a high credit limit, you have to fork over a lot of cash.
  • There's no interest earned on your security deposit.
  • There's a $39 annual fee.
  • There’s a balance transfer fee of 3%, which can eat into the benefit of the balance transfer promo rate. The fee is capped at $150.
  • There’s a $10 charge for credit limit increases.
  • There’s a foreign transaction fee of 2%.

Fees and APR

• This card has a fixed rate APR of 17.99%
• There’s a six-month 9.95% introductory APR offer on balance transfers. After that it’s a fixed rate of 17.99%.
• You’ll pay a $39 annual fee.
• There’s a 3% balance transfer fee.
• You’ll pay a 3% foreign transaction fee for all purchases made outside the U.S.
• If you request a credit limit increase, there’s a $10 fee.

Extras and perks

The card website offers a “How to rebuild credit program,” which includes step-by-step instructions for improving your credit score. There’s also an electronic book that goes into detail about how a credit score is built and explains some of the factors that can negatively impact your credit score.

How this card compares

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
  • No credit check necessary to apply. OpenSky believes in giving an opportunity to everyone.
  • The refundable* deposit you provide becomes your credit line limit on your Visa card. Choose it yourself, from as low as $200.
  • Build credit quickly. OpenSky reports to all 3 major credit bureaus.
  • 99% of our customers who started without a credit score earned a credit score record with the credit bureaus in as little as 6 months.
  • We have a Facebook community of people just like you; there is a forum for shared experiences, and insights from others on our Facebook Fan page. (Search "OpenSky Card" in Facebook.)
  • OpenSky provides credit tips and a dedicated credit education page on our website to support you along the way.
  • *View our Cardholder Agreement located at the bottom of the application page for details of the card.
Credit Needed

No credit check

Regular APR

19.14% (variable)

Annual Fee

$35

Purchase Intro APR

N/A

Balance Transfers Intro APR

N/A

The two reasons you may want to apply for the OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card is if you don’t own a checking account, but still want access to a credit card, or if you’re looking for a secured card with a decent annual percentage rate.

There’s a very narrow band of consumers this applies to, we imagine.

Capital One® Secured MasterCard®
  • No annual fee, and all the credit building benefits with responsible card use
  • Unlike a prepaid card, it builds credit when used responsibly, with regular reporting to the 3 major credit bureaus
  • You will get an initial $200 credit line after making a security deposit of $49, $99, or $200, determined based on your creditworthiness
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time with no additional deposit needed
  • Easily manage your account 24/7 with online access, by phone or using our mobile app
  • It's a credit card accepted at millions of locations worldwide
Credit Needed

Limited, Bad

Regular APR

24.99% (Variable)

Annual Fee

$0

Purchase Intro APR

N/A

Balance Transfers Intro APR

N/A

The Capital One Secured MasterCard has no annual fee, and if you qualify, you can put down as little as $49 to get a credit limit of $200. Or, if you have to put down $200 to get a limit of $200, this card lets you pay that amount in installments.

Credit One Bank® Platinum Card
  • See if you Pre-Qualify without harming your credit score. Find the card that's right for you in less than 60 seconds.
  • CreditOneBank.com and the Credit One Bank mobile app makes it easy to access and manage all your account information and make payments whether you're at home or on-the-go.
  • Know you're protected from unauthorized charges with Zero Fraud Liability—included with every Credit One Bank account
  • Take advantage of free online access to your Experian credit score and credit report summary so you can track the key factors impacting your credit health. Terms apply.
  • Give your credit a boost with credit line increase opportunities, a fee may apply.
  • Eligible purchases such as gas, groceries, mobile phone, internet, cable and satellite TV will automatically earn 1% cash back rewards. Terms apply.
  • Always know what's happening with your account with custom email and text alerts to remind you about your payment due date, notify you when a payment posts, or warn you if your available credit runs low.
  • Customize your card by selecting a unique design from Credit One Bank's card gallery. There are more than 20 options to choose from. A fee may apply.
Credit Needed

Bad Credit

Regular APR

19.99% - 25.99% Variable

Annual Fee

$0 - $99

Purchase Intro APR

N/A

Balance Transfers Intro APR

N/A

The Credit One Bank Platinum Card offers some rewards, and offers decent APRs for a secured card. A major drawback of the Credit One Bank Platinum Card is that you won’t know the exact terms of your offer until you’ve applied.

Discover it® Secured
  • No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
  • It's a real credit card. You can build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, debit and prepaid cards can't help you build a credit history.
  • Establish your credit line by providing a refundable security deposit from $200-$2500 after being approved. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit.
  • Automatic reviews starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
  • 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter, automatically. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score
  • We automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year.
  • Receive Free Social Security number alerts— Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
Credit Needed

Limited/Bad Credit

Regular APR

24.99% Variable

Annual Fee

$0

Purchase Intro APR

N/A

Balance Transfers Intro APR

10.99% for 6 months

A better choice all-around would be the no-fee Discover it Secured Card. This is the only unsecured credit card on the market that offers cash-back rewards — and generous ones at that, too. Not only does this card earn 2% back on dining and gas, and 1% on everything else, up to a combined quarterly maximum of $1,000, but Discover will match those rewards at the end of the first year.

We also like that you can quickly graduate to an unsecured Discover card with just eight months of good payment behavior.

EDITORIAL NOTE

Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.