Surge Mastercard Credit Card Review (2020)
Marketed toward those with imperfect credit, the Surge Mastercard comes in both a secured and unsecured version. While some borrowers can get a credit limit as high as $750, the Surge Mastercard is so loaded with fees that it's probably best to avoid it unless you're totally out of options.
Surge Mastercard Overview
The Surge Mastercard is issued by Celtic Bank, which is headquartered in Utah and has been in business since 2001. The card is serviced by Continental Finance, a consumer finance company that specializes in financial products for people with less than perfect credit.
Unlike most credit cards, the Surge Mastercard is available as both an unsecured card and a secured card. The version you receive depends on your creditworthiness, and there is no guarantee that Celtic Bank will approve you for the unsecured version.
Continental Finance reports payment activity to all three credit bureaus, which is helpful if you're trying to rebuild your credit. Unfortunately, the Surge Mastercards also comes with some of the highest fees in the credit industry, making it an expensive card to own.
The annual fee is $125 for the first year and then $96 in subsequent years. There is also a $30 authorized user fee, as well as a $10 monthly maintenance fee that kicks in the second year you own the card.
In addition to the steep fees, the Surge Mastercard comes with a variable 29.90% annual percentage rate (APR). When you factor in the high fees and the possibility of being required to pay a security deposit, the Surge Mastercard falls short compared to other cards marketed toward people with bad credit.
Pros vs. Cons: Features of the Surge Mastercard Credit Card
The Surge Mastercard has its pros and cons. Here's a breakdown of everything you need to know.
Reports to all major credit bureaus - Continental Finance reports to all three major credit bureaus. If you make your payments on time each month, this can help you rebuild your credit and improve your credit score.
Possibility of an unsecured card - Depending on your creditworthiness, you may qualify for an unsecured credit card.
Bad credit okay - Continental Finance specializes in borrowers with bad credit, so a low credit score probably won't stop you from getting approved. On the other hand, the fees might make you think twice about adding this card to your wallet.
High credit limit - Some borrowers can get a credit limit as high as $750. However, this depends on your credit score, so this limit isn't available to everyone.
Annual fee - The Surge Mastercard is a pricey card to own. The annual fee is $125 the first year and $96 thereafter.
Monthly maintenance fee - The monthly maintenance fee is $0 for the first year, then $10 each month beginning in the second year. This means cardholders pay $120 each year just in maintenance fees.
Other fees - In addition to the annual and monthly fees, the Surge Mastercard charges $30 for each authorized user and up to $40 for any late or returned payments. Cardholders also pay a 3% foreign transaction fee for any purchases made outside the United States.
High APR - The Surge Mastercard comes with a 29.90% variable interest rate, which is higher than many cards available to those with low credit scores.
May require a security deposit - Depending on your creditworthiness, you may be required to pay a security deposit.
No rewards - While it's not uncommon for subprime credit cards to lack a rewards program, there are a handful of subprime cards out there that do. If rewards are important to you, it's worth checking out other options.
Who Is the Surge Mastercard Good For?
With its high interest and costly fees, the Surge Mastercard is probably best viewed as a last resort. On the other hand, the servicer behind this card reports to all major credit bureaus, making it possible to use this card for credit-building.
Regardless of your credit score, you should always shop around before settling on a credit card. Do side-by-side comparisons of each card's important features, such as the interest rate, fees, and benefits.
While the Surge Mastercard comes with fees and a high APR, it can help you improve your credit score if you make your monthly payments on time. One strategy is to use the Surge card until your score goes up, and then use it as a stepping stone to upgrade to a better card.
Surge Mastercard Reviews
The Surge Mastercard gets mixed reviews, which is to be expected with a subprime credit card.
The majority of reviewers who give the card high marks say it's good for rebuilding a low credit score as long as you're careful not to run up a big balance.
On the other hand, the card does get some negative reviews. In most cases, users felt they weren't told up front that the card is either secured or unsecured depending on the applicant's credit score and other financial info.
While there aren't many references to the secured vs. unsecured nature of the Surge card on the Continental Finance website, it's referenced in a couple places, including the FAQ page. This is why it's important to read all the fine print before signing up for a credit card.
Best Way to Utilize the Surge Mastercard
Due to its fees and high interest rate, the Surge Mastercard is best used as a credit-builder card or a starter card for people who have zero credit history or a low credit score.
If you want to use the Surge card to build or rehab your credit, you should make small purchases and then pay them off each month. Because Continental Finance reports to all three major credit bureaus, you'll get credit for your on-time payments without racking up interest or an unwieldy balance.
Handling Your Surge Mastercard from Start to Finish
If you're interested in the Surge Mastercard, here's what you need to know about submitting an application, checking your card's status, and using your card.
How to Apply for the Surge Mastercard
There are a few ways to apply for the Surge Mastercard. You can apply over the phone, through the mail, or online.
If you want to apply by phone, you can do so by calling 1-866-513-4598. If you received a pre-qualification offer in the mail, you can apply for a card by mailing back the acceptance certificate.
You can also apply for a card online. Here's how to do it in just three easy steps:
1. Go to the Continental Finance website - Go to the Continental Finance website and find Surge Mastercard on the list of available cards. Click "apply now."
2. Submit the application - This will take you to an application page, where you'll need to provide information about your finances and income. When you submit your application, Continental Finance will review it and let you know if you qualify for a Surge Mastercard or one of the other cards they offer.
3. Wait for a decision - According to Continental Finance, some applicants receive an instant decision. However, you may have to wait up to 30 days to find out if you qualify.
How to Check Your Surge Mastercard Status
You can check the status of your Surge Mastercard any time by signing up for online banking through Continental Finance. This allows you to view your card history and transactions, make a payment, see your statement, and check your balance.
How to Use Your Surge Credit Card
Because the Surge Mastercard has a high APR, it's best to avoid carrying a balance, especially if you've gotten into difficulty with credit cards in the past.
Instead, consider making small purchases and then paying them off each month. That way, you get credit for paying your bill on time, which can help boost your credit score.
Surge Mastercard Alternatives
If you're put off by the high APR and fees associated with the Surge card, here are three alternatives that might be a better fit.
1. Indigo Platinum Mastercard
If you prefer an unsecured credit card, the Indigo Platinum Mastercard is an unsecured card that accepts applicants with bad credit. On the other hand, it comes with a 24.90% APR and the possibility of an annual fee.
Depending on the applicant's creditworthiness, the annual fee can be $0, $59, or $99. Applicants approved for a $99 annual fee pay $75 for the first year.
2. OpenSky Secured Visa
The OpenSky Secured Visa is a secured credit card, but there is no credit check — making it a good choice for people with bad credit or no credit history. While there is a $35 annual fee, the 17.39% APR is hard to beat.
If you qualify, you'll need to pay a $200 refundable security deposit. If you want a higher credit limit, you can pay as much as $3,000 to secure your card.
On the downside, there is no option to upgrade to an unsecured down the road. There is also no option to waive the annual fee if your credit score improves.
3. Capital One Secured Mastercard
The Capital One Secured Mastercard has a 26.99% APR and no annual fee. It also lets you choose a security deposit that fits your budget, allowing you to pay $49, $99, or $200 to secure your card.
You can also get access to a higher credit limit by paying your bill on time. After five months of responsible use, Capital One will automatically review your account and decide whether to offer you a credit limit increase.
Surge Mastercard Credit Card FAQs
The following are some of the most frequently asked questions and answers regarding the Surge Mastercard.
Is the Surge Credit Card a Good Card?
The Sure Mastercard isn't a good fit for everyone, but it might help those with bad credit repair their score. With any credit card, it's important to research the terms and conditions, including the interest rate and any fees.
There's no getting around the fact that the Surge Mastercard has a high annual fee, an expensive monthly maintenance fee, and high interest. If you need a credit-building card and you've exhausted all your options, however, the Surge card could help you establish a positive payment history.
Is the Surge Credit Card a Secured Card?
The Surge Mastercard is both a secured card and an unsecured card. Your creditworthiness determines which version of the card you're offered.
If you have a bad credit score, you might be limited to a secured card. If you choose to accept the offer for a secured card, you'll need to provide a security deposit.
What Bank Is the Surge Credit Card?
The Surge Mastercard is issued by Celtic Bank and serviced by Continental Finance.
Does the Surge Credit Card Give Increases?
According to the Continental Finance website, Surge Mastercard cardholders are eligible for a credit review and the possibility of a limit increase after six months. However, the site isn't clear about whether this review is done automatically or if cardholders need to request it.
The Surge Mastercard has its drawbacks, including a high APR and an expensive annual fee. However, the card servicer reports to the three major credit bureaus, so it's worth considering as a credit-builder card if you can't qualify for an alternative.
About the Author
Mike is a recognized credit expert and founder of Credit Takeoff. His credit advice has been featured in CNBC, Investopedia, CreditCards.com, Bankrate, Huffpost, The Simple Dollar, Reader's Digest, LendingTree, and Quickbooks. Read more.