Union Plus Prepaid Card: 5% Savings Account FDIC Insured

PA: AFL-CIO 2009 Legislative Conference

If you liked Mango Prepaid card with its 6% savings account (4.6% after taking into account idle cash) but you wished you could put in more than $5,000, here’s another one that does pretty much the same thing.

It’s called Union Plus prepaid debit card. It’s run by the same parent company as Mango, just marketed through a different channel with a slightly different configuration.

[Update in June 2015: Union Plus prepaid debit card stopped accepting new customers. Existing customers are not affected.]

Like Mango, you open the savings account after you get the prepaid card. The savings account pays 5.1% APY for balance up to $5,000. Balance over $5,000 earns 0.1%. You must have recurring deposit into the card in order to keep the 5.1% rate on the savings account. I’m not clear how much in recurring deposit is needed but $50/month will probably do, as in Mango.

Although the rate on the savings account is lower than Mango’s (5.1% APY vs 6% APY), the monthly fee is also lower: only $2/month vs $3/month on Mango. It’s also possible to have the $2 monthly fee waived by a direct deposit of $500 or more every month. Unions’ collective bargaining power might have something to do with it? At only $2 a month, you may decide to just keep the monthly transfers at $50 and pay the fee.

Taking into account the initial $5,000, the monthly $50, and the $2 monthly fee, the effective net yield comes out to 3.8% on an average balance of $5,300.

Same as what you do with Mango, if it bothers you that your monthly recurring deposits plus interest earned pile up there earning nothing, you can withdraw them. You don’t have to withdraw more frequently than once a year.

Earning 3.8% sure beats earning less than 1%. If you are married you can get one card for each person and double the amount on which you earn 3.8% to $10k. Although it’s marketed through labor unions, you don’t have to submit any proof of union membership.

Adding up both Mango and Union Plus prepaid cards, a married couple can have $20k  earning 4%+ FDIC insured. They make more than twice as much as I Bonds at this time.

[Photo Credit: Flickr user aflcio]

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Comments

  1. theo says

    I keep getting “some of the info you provided cannot be validated” when attempting to open an account online although I triple checked the info I put in… Same thing happens with Mango…
    Where do they get the info if not through credit check? Chex maybe?

  2. Harry says

    Unions are just a marketing channel for the card issuer. You are not required to submit any proof of membership.

  3. John says

    Harry, after you made the comment in the post “I’m not clear how much in recurring deposit is needed but $50/month will probably do, as in Mango” did you or anyone set this up and confirm that $50/month is sufficient?

  4. Harry says

    I’m putting in more than $50/month so I can’t tell you whether $50/month is sufficient. You can ask customer service what the minimum is. The reps are all US-based and friendly.

    • Sam Seattle says

      I’m putting $50 and it has been sufficient. But the rep I talked to was in the Phillipines, with a thick foreign accent.

    • Sam Seattle says

      I changed the monthly deposit from $50 to $500, but then realized I’ll be having thousands of dollars in a few months earning zero. What to do?
      Harry, do you do a monthly deposit of $500 to get the monthly fee waived?

  5. autum says

    There was nothing written about the $50 minimum deposit, maybe for Mango but nothing with Union Plus. They denied me the $20 credit for enrolling in direct deposit. I’m only employed part time as an independent contractor so I’m not paid on regular basis, but still they never went into details about the minimum.

  6. Sam says

    Harry, do you still keep using Mango and Union Plus now? I notice this post was from 2 years ago and I still have cash to invest. Thanks.

  7. Sam R says

    Thanks, Harry. Good to know so. Both hubby and I tried to sign up on separate occasions and got told ‘unexpected error’. They can’t complete our registration.
    So we called on 2 separate occasion. Their voicemail said: “We’re experiencing technical difficulties. Good Bye.”
    Ha!
    Seems their customer service is zero. Even if we manage to register and get the card, if in the future we need to call or email them, the customer service seems to be unexistent???

    • Harry Sit says

      Sam – When I called I got a rep without much wait. I haven’t needed to call ever since.

  8. Mahesh says

    which union you guys joined? I asked them on phone and they said, i have to be part of some union. lets say they dont ask for proof now, but in future if they find out – they might take all of my money? or its not possible? I am little concerned.

  9. Kyle says

    How exactly do you get the money out? I would like to do this and auto-deposit $500/month to avoid the fee. Do I then have to move the money to the card and spend it somewhere? Or can I transfer it out to another bank?

    • Trevor says

      Hi Kyle. I use the Mango version of this program. You can buy a money order with the debit card (enter your pin) to occasionally pull money out. Money order is $0.60-$1.00.

  10. Jeremy Lee says

    Thanks for this! To get the bonus $20 from Union Plus via Direct Deposit, do ACH pushes from other bank accounts count for this?

    I just submitted DD for both Union Plus and Mango for $25 each pay period just in case. The rep on the phone said you also have to have the Direct Deposit enrollment active for 90 days before getting the bonus. I had to call them because I still haven’t received the prepaid card (hopefully it’s in the mail today).

    • Sam Seattle says

      I also haven’t received my physical prepaid card in the mail, and it’s been 7 months. Thus, I’ve just called again to ask them to mail it. Let’s see how it works this time. Seven months, man!

    • Jeremy Lee says

      It took *forever* for them to send me a card but not that long! I called in several times before I gave up and said “You know what? If they send it they send it… if they don’t, they don’t” and about a month later I got it in the mail. LOL. Not sure why it took so long for them to process. Supposedly they shipped 2-3 of them out before I actually got mine. I’m sure they screwed something up in their system. Each time I called too they could never get a hold of a “supervisor”

    • Sam Seattle says

      I still haven’t got the $20 bonus for setting up direct deposit, and the direct deposit has been active for more than 90 days.
      The rep I called said, it was because my deposits had been coming from a bank, and not directly from my employer. (I have been doing the direct deposit as an ACH transfer from my brokerage account).
      Was anyone else denied the $20 bonus for doing an ACH transfer for the monthly direct deposit?

    • Sam Seattle says

      @Jeremy Lee – Thanks for sharing. Now I know I’m not the only one who waited for months to get the physical card.

  11. SLee says

    I can’t open Union Plus. As I have made Mango. I bet they share same platform. used same user id.
    due to this, i can’t open for the next 6 month for union plus. called and emailed, but they are not supportive.
    instead, asked me to use mango. don’t understand my point to have double dip on both mango and union plus.
    i am wondering how did you guys open both mango and union plus?

    • Sam Seattle says

      In my experience, I had to use both a different user ID and phone number for each account.

    • Jeremy Lee says

      I can’t create an account for Mango or Union Plus for my wife. I was able to create accounts for myself just fine. Using different usernames, emails, and phone numbers between all of them. I did screw up my wife’s name though (as it’s misspelled on her SSN and I kept retrying signing up with her correctly-spelled name haha). I wonder if they limit per physical address and zipcode…

    • Sam Seattle says

      @Jeremy Lee – My hubby also couldn’t create an account on both, while I could. He has tried with a different phone number and different usernames.
      Maybe it was because his credit is frozen on all 3 credit bureaus.
      Does anyone, whose credit is frozen, manage to open these accounts?

  12. Sam Seattle says

    I use mint.com for tracking my cash and credit card spending. This Union Prepaid card won’t sync data with mint.com. :-(
    Anyone else uses mint.com and can sync it with this Union prepaid card?

  13. Matt says

    Count me as one of the ones who is unable to get either a Mango or Union Plus account. Each registration attempt ends with an unexpected error or something similar. The rep from Mango said, “If it won’t allow you to register online then there is nothing we can do.” Needless to say she was a big help.

  14. Eric says

    Harry,

    On your Mango post you list all of the banks that count as direct deposit. Do the same banks count as a direct deposit for Union Plus? If not, which banks do you know of that do? How soon after opening the account do I need to make the $500 direct deposit to get the $2 fee waived? Do I need to keep that $500 in the account for any length of time? Does the $2 fee get taken out immediately like Mango making it start with a negative balance? Do you know if they send a combined 1099 for Union Plus and Mango? Sorry to ask so many questions.

    • Harry Sit says

      It’s the same banks because Mango and Union Plus are on the same platform by the same company. Having a deposit within the next 30 days will do. You don’t need to keep the money in the account but I don’t recommend pulling it back the next day. Keeping $500 there for a full month only costs you $0.40 before tax in lost interest. You don’t have to wring out every last drop. I don’t remember whether $2 was taken up front or not. I get a combined 1099 for Mango and Union Plus.

  15. Eric says

    Harry,

    Thanks for the information. For Mango, I always use a different bank to withdraw money than the one I use for the direct deposit. Is this necessary? Have you used the same bank to deposit and withdraw for Union or Mango?

  16. mahesh patel says

    I have opened 2 mango and 2 union plus account. Each one on me and my wife. But they have told me you cant open more than 3 accounts per household so i had to close 1 union plus account. Anybody had similar experience?

    thanks

    • avion says

      not even for 2. I tried to open up 2 under my name for Mango, it keeps giving me error message.. My wife tried to open, but it failed as well. How did you open more than 1?

  17. mahesh patel says

    Dont know, if it has changed now but I was able to open 4 account but 4th one didnt work – i mean not allowed to add money.

    Let me know if any of you have similar experience.

    Thanks

  18. Jeremy says

    Just an FYI but I got an email notice from Union Plus about half an hour ago indicating discontinuation of this service. Here’s a snippet:

    “As such, this letter is to notify you that all Union Plus Prepaid Visa cards will be discontinued, including all services in connection with the Card, effective September 16, 2015. This means your account will be closed on September 16, 2015, or on your Card’s expiration date, whichever comes first. A new provider for this program will be contacting you directly between now and September 16, 2015 with details of the new program that will be available to you.

    After September 15, 2015, your Card will no longer be available for use. Any remaining available balance will be refunded to you in accordance with the terms and conditions of your Cardholder Agreement.”

    I wonder if the new provider will be offering the same %-back.

    • Eric says

      Jeremy, do you also have a Mango account? I’m hoping that they are keeping Mango accounts open for now as I haven’t received an email from them yet.

    • Harry Sit says

      Thank you Jeremy. I didn’t receive any email from Union or Mango. I will pull the money myself after the interest posts for August. That makes it easy for both them and me.

    • Jeremy says

      I have a Mango account too but didn’t get a notice of discontinuation. I did get a notice that they’re changing the debit card to Visa from Mastercard…

      I haven’t heard anything more regarding Union Prepaid either so not quite sure what’s going on there – hopefully they replace it with something that still accrues interest.

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