OneUnited Bank President Teri Williams Talks About UNITY Visa Card

Even though Financial Literacy Month has come and gone, it’s never too late to discuss financial management. Black Enterprise sat down with OneUnited Bank president, Teri Williams, to talk about her book, get her thoughts on how to teach children financial literacy, and the importance of the bank’s UNITY Visa Card. Here’s part two of that interview.

BE: How did you introduce your children to money management principles?

WILLIAMS: I gave them an allowance, and I had the money deposited into a bank account. I also had them create lists of things they wanted and I posted them on the refrigerator so that there would be something they could aspire to save for. Now, my daughter is in college. Her savings account was turned over to her when she entered college. My son will be going to college next year, and the same will be done for him. I was also very careful about shopping with them when they were children. As an activity, I did not take them shopping. What I tried to do was have them more focused on money for a purpose as opposed to having them see money as just something to spend.

BE: Tell us a little about the UNITY Visa card. What are some of the special features?

WILLIAMS: It is a secured credit card, as opposed to a prepaid debit card. A lot of people who have hit a financial bump in the road and have credit scores that were impacted negatively are getting prepaid debit cards, but those cards don’t report to the credit bureaus and can’t help you build credit. The UNITY Visa card is a secured credit card, which does report to the three major bureaus and can help you rebuild credit. The other feature is that it includes a How to Rebuild Credit program. We educate our card members on how they can rebuild their credit.

BE: What prompted the bank to develop this card?

WILLIAMS: What we have found is that a lot of people in general, but particularly people in the urban communities we serve, have been hit hard by this recession. And a lot of people in this community tend to have bad credit. What we wanted to do was figure out a way to help people improve their credit while at the same time recognizing that it had to be affordable. So we came up with the UNITY Visa Card because it only requires a minimum $250 deposit, and you get a credit line against your deposit. It is a place where people can start and then build from there. We also wanted to educate people by holding workshops in our communities to educate people about credit.

Stay tuned for part 3 of this article, where Teri Williams talks about OneUnited Bank’s Waive Home Loan Program and how you can make yourself a better candidate for a home loan.