Two institutions with ties to the African-American community made credit card announcements this week.

United Bank, a black-owned institution in Philadelphia, is launching a nationwide advertising campaign for a secured credit card.

Meanwhile, Key Federal Savings Bank of Owings Mills, Md., one of the pioneers in the secured card business, expanded its relationship with a scholarship program for predominantly black colleges.

Secured cards are designed for people who have difficulty establishing credit. The lender takes a deposit as security for the credit line.

Attraction of Secured Cards

These efforts come at a time when several major banks and other card-marketing organizations are beginning to perceive the secured market as a growth opportunity - and for compliance purposes - as a way to demonstrate a commitment to underserved communities.

Key Federal, which has offered an affinity card on behalf of the America's Black Colleges Program since 1989, is adding to the product line with an unsecured Visa card.

The $189 million-asset thrift is not black owned, but 49% of its cardholders are black. It promises to contribute up to $7 for each new card issued, plus a percentage of sales.

Another $1 will be given each time a Key Federal card is used for a MoneyGram, the money transmission product of can Express Co.

APRs of 16.9% and 19.5%

The annual percentage rate on the unsecured card is 16.9%, compared with 19.5% on the secured version.

Shirley Chisholm, the former New York congresswoman who is the national spokeswoman for the America's Black Colleges Program, said the unsecured card will increase support for "the educational institutions that help shape some of the best black minds of the future."

United Bank of Philadelphia will have chairman and chief executive Emma C. Chappell starring in TV spots just filmed in Los Angeles.

The minority-community bank finished last year, its first, with $23 million of assets. It says the Visa card for "people with bad credit or no credit" was a big success locally since its launch in December.

Ad Campaign Planned

United is going national with operating support from Applied Card Systems of Wilmington, Del., GMS Inc. of Los Angeles, and the advertising-public relations agency Wolfinger Cerminaro Communications.

TV and radio ads will air in Philadelphia, Atlanta Baltimore, Chicago, Columbus, Detroit, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, Norfolk, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and on the Black Entertainment Television cable network.

The card includes enhancements such as travel discounts. The minimum deposit security is $375 and applications are accepted via an 800 number.

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