As cash back credit cards go, the Union Bank Graphite American Express Card has a compelling program that is best suited toward users who travel extensively and pay off their balance every month. While there are cards on the market that give a straight 2% cash back on all net purchases, this card offers a tiered cash back structure of 1%, 2% and 3% based on purchase types, with the highest tier reserved for qualifies air travel purchases.
Rewards Program for the Union Bank Graphite American Express Card
The first thing to pay attention to with regard to the Union Bank Graphite American Express Card rewards program is that the 3% cash back earnings only come from qualified purchases related to air travel. That means that the merchant category associated with the business selling the product being purchased must be properly classified by American Express as either an airline or as an air carrier. Only merchants that American Express has designated under these categories are going to allow the purchaser to benefit from the additional cash back bonus.
Purchases made from merchants that American Express has categorized under codes associated with food or fuel, such as grocery stores, bakeries, convenience stores or as service stations, et cetera, are eligible for a 2% cash back reward. However, this does not cover discount or warehouse club type stores or “superstores,” which will not qualify for the additional cash back bonus.
All other net purchases from merchants not categorized in one of the higher percentage earning groups still will benefit from a 1% cash back.
There are no limits on how much cash back can be earned in a given year with the Union Bank Graphite American Express Card.
Redeeming Union Bank Graphite American Express Card Rewards
The rewards for cash back can be redeemed as checks or statement credits and deposits are also available to existing bank accounts. The rewards may be redeemed in increments of $25. Because the Union Bank Graphite American Express Card rewards points expire after three years, it is important to initiate the deposit, credit or check in a timely manner. Accounts that are not in good standing may also forfeit their rewards points.
In order to earn points, the purchases must qualify according to the card terms. Essentially, all net purchases (after refunds or credits or items under dispute) will qualify for rewards. Card holder fees, such as finance charges, will not qualify for rewards points. Also, cash related purchases, such as money orders or cash advances and balance transfers will not qualify for rewards points.
Even with no fee for the first year of membership and no cap on how many rewards may be earned in a given calendar year, the Union Bank Graphite American Express Card only holds its value if the account holder actively redeems the value of the points.
Extra Perks for the Union Bank Graphite American Express Card Rewards Card
As most AMEX rewards cards offer, the Union Bank Graphite American Express Card has programs included to cover extended warranties on purchases and offers purchase protection. It has insurance against identity theft and fraud protection, as well as many travel perks that range from roadside assistance to travel insurance for accidents, baggage, and more. Additionally, the Union Bank Graphite American Express Card offers automobile rental insurance against theft or collision, up to the total value of the vehicle, at no additional charge when rentals are made using the Union Bank Graphite American Express Card. The travel perks of the card include the Travel Privileges program, which allows access to special deals on rates and amenities available from many airlines and hotel chains, as well as other travel partners such as cruise lines or automobile rental companies. (Travel accident insurance does require that the entire fare be charged to the Union Bank Graphite American Express Card.)
The Union Bank Graphite American Express Card offers the additional benefit of a concierge service, which will assist account holders with travel info, making reservations for travel or dining, or even setting up time at the golf course, all with a single phone call. Each year, the cardholder becomes eligible for a discounted companion ticket on a domestic flight through the Travel Privileges program offered through the card.
Rates and Fees for the Union Bank Graphite American Express Card
The rates and fees below include promotional rates, which are only good through the first annual billing cycle and are for purchases and balance transfers, not for cash advances.
Balance transfers are offered with a special 3% (or a minimum of $10) transfer cost during the first year. After twelve months, that percentage goes up to 5% per transaction. There is also a zero percent APR during the first twelve months for balance transfers, as well as for new purchases made on the Union Bank Graphite American Express Card . This special APR is only good during the first twelve months after the account is opened.
After the first year, accounts will have between 13.99% and 19.99% APR, based on the Prime Rate and on credit worthiness. This APR will apply to both purchases and balance transfers, as well as overdraft advances. Cash advances will have a higher 25.24% rate. Accounts that are subject to late payments or returned payments may have a penalty APR of as much as 29.99%, which may then apply for the duration of the account. All of these APRs are based on a Prime Rate of 3.25%
Cash advances cost the greater of 5% or $15 in addition to the higher APR. Overdraft advances also incur a fee of $10 each day that an advance is paid.
The Union Bank Graphite American Express Card does not charge foreign transaction fees, and there is no fee for the first year. After the first year, however, there is an annual fee of $99. Late and returned payments each also incur a $35 fee.
Bottom Line for the Union Bank Graphite American Express Card
This card has a good rewards program for individuals who use the card frequently for air travel, with the bonus of no foreign transaction fees making it even more appealing for those who fly overseas. It carries a moderate $99 annual fee, so frequent use and paying off the total balance each month is essential to keep this card at the top of its game.