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Surge Credit Card Review: Its Pros, Cons, and Alternatives

Is it really good for building credit?

Halina Grzeskiewicz - Finance Writer
Written by

Halina Grzeskiewicz

Halina Grzeskiewicz - Finance Writer
Written by
Halina Grzeskiewicz
Finance Writer

Content writer with nearly 5 years of experience. Halina has written about several topics, including human resources, technology, Forex, cryptocurrencies, and personal finance.

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Derek Sall - Founder/Personal Finance Expert
Reviewed by

Derek Sall

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Derek Sall - Founder/Personal Finance Expert
Reviewed by
Derek Sall
Founder/Personal Finance Expert

Derek has a Bachelor's degree in Finance and a Master's in Business. As a finance manager in the corporate world, he regularly identified and solved problems at the C-suite level. Today, Derek isn't interested in helping big companies. Instead, he's helping individuals win financially—one email, one article, one person at a time.

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Kacper Kozicki - Editor-in-Chief
Edited by

Kacper Kozicki

Kacper Kozicki - Editor-in-Chief
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Kacper Kozicki

Kacper is an editor, writer, and multilingual translator with expertise in producing tailored content for global online brands.

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Deepti Nickam - Finance Writer

Deepti Nickam

Deepti Nickam - Finance Writer
Deepti Nickam
Finance Writer

Content writing and marketing professional with 5+ years of experience in the B2B and B2C sectors. Deepti has written about several subjects, including finance, project management, human resources, and more.

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13 min
August, 09 2023

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Best credit card for bad credit with no deposit

Surge® Mastercard

Annual Fee
First year fee is between $75–$99. Also a yearly maintenance fee of up to $120 after the first year.
Reward rate
No rewards
Intro offer
No intro offer
29.99% APR
Credit needed: Bad (300–629)

19 people chose this


Regular APR

29.99% APR (Variable)

Intro APR

N/A (see website for details)

Balance transfer rate

N/A (see website for details)

Balance transfer intro APR

N/A (see website for details)

Cash advance APR

29.99% (Variable)


Annual fees

$75–$125 first year, then $99–$125 after that. Additional annual maintenance fee of up to $120.

Balance transfer fees


Cash advance fees

$10 or 3%, whichever is higher

Foreign transaction fees


Late payment fees

Up to $41

Regular APR

29.99% APR (Variable)

Intro APR

N/A (see website for details)

Balance transfer rate

N/A (see website for details)

Balance transfer intro APR

N/A (see website for details)

Cash advance APR

29.99% (Variable)

Annual fees

$75–$125 first year, then $99–$125 after that. Additional annual maintenance fee of up to $120.

Balance transfer fees


Cash advance fees

$10 or 3%, whichever is higher

Foreign transaction fees


Late payment fees

Up to $41

Why we like it

The Surge® Mastercard® is backed by Continental Finance, one of America’s leading marketers and servicers of credit cards for consumers with less-than-perfect credit. The initial credit limit ranges from $300 to $1,000. Make your first six monthly minimum payments on time and get your credit limit doubled.


  • Mastercard’s zero liability protection.
  • Monthly reporting to the three major credit bureaus.
  • Free access to your Vantage 3.0 score from Experian (when you sign up for e-statements).


  • The APR of 29.99% is pretty high.
  • First-year annual fee of $75–$99, then $99 after that.
  • The monthly maintenance fee is free for the first 12 months, but then could jump to $10 per month ($120 annually).
  • 3% foreign transaction fee.
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Diving into the world of credit cards can be a whirlwind of decisions. For those navigating the choppy waters of credit repair or building, the Surge Mastercard surfaces as a potential beacon.

Why trust us
Advertiser Disclosure

But amidst its appeal for those with less-than-ideal credit, the card comes with its share of shadows—cue, fees. 

To navigate this financial relationship, you must balance the pros and cons while considering suitable alternatives. 

Strap in—it’s time for an honest encounter with the Surge Mastercard.

This article will show you: 

  • Who the Surge Mastercard is for.
  • Its fees, rates, pros, and cons.
  • Some alternatives that might be worth a look.

Read more:

Surge Credit Card at a Glance

Full name: Surge® Platinum Mastercard®

Best for: Those wanting to build or rebuild credit

Issuer: Celtic Bank

Credit score needed: All are welcome to apply

Network: Mastercard

Serviced by: Continental Finance Company

Who’s the Surge Credit Card Best For?

The Surge Mastercard is cool with folks who don’t have the best credit history. It reports to the big three credit bureaus, which can help pull up your score over time.

Keep your eyes wide open, though. They do like their fees. So, treat it more like a stepping stone to better credit rather than a long-term financial partner. 

As with any credit card, remember to pay on time and—better yet—in full to dodge the interest.

Surge Credit Card: Overall Card Review

Surge Platinum Mastercard: Pros & Cons

Let’s dive straight into the pros and cons of the Surge Platinum Mastercard:


  • Open to those with fair or poor credit.
  • Reports to all three major credit bureaus, aiding credit history.
  • Pre-qualify without harm to your scores.
  • Credit limit increases possible with responsible usage.
  • A secured version of the card is available.


  • High annual fee.
  • Monthly maintenance fee.
  • Above average APR, making it costly to carry a balance.
  • No reward/benefit program.
  • No balance transfers or cash advances available during the first year.

Pros—What We Like

Accessible to those with fair or poor credit

This card isn’t picky. Even if you’ve had some dings on your credit history, you could still get approved.

Reports to all three major credit bureaus

This means on-time payments can boost your score with not just one, but all three major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax).

Read more:

Pre-qualify without harm to your scores

One additional advantage of the Surge Mastercard is that you can pre-qualify for it without any impact to your credit scores. 

This is because the issuer performs a “soft pull” on your credit report during prequalification, which doesn’t affect your scores.

If you’re uncertain about your chances of getting approved or just want to gauge where you stand, this feature can be a real stress reliever. 

It gives you a chance to see if you’re likely to qualify before you go through the formal application process—which does involve a “hard pull” that can temporarily lower your scores.

Offers an option for a secured version

If you’re having trouble qualifying for the unsecured version or want a lower APR, you can opt for the secured card instead. You’ll just need to pay a security deposit.

Credit limit increases possible with responsible usage

Show them you’re trustworthy by making payments on time, and they might hike up your credit limit. They advertise the option of doubling your credit limit after you pay on time six months in a row.

Cons—Things To Think Over

High annual fee

Unlike some other cards for building credit, the Surge Mastercard comes with a hefty annual fee. Make sure you’re okay with that before applying.

The fee is between $99 and $125. If your creditworthiness is good enough, you may be eligible for a $75 fee for the first year of using the card.

Above average APR

It has a relatively high APR, which means carrying a balance can get costly fast. It’s best to pay off your balance in full each month.

No reward/benefit program

Don’t expect a ton of fancy perks. It’s pretty bare-bones, but that’s not what it’s designed for—it’s about building credit.

No balance transfers or cash advances available during the first year

This isn’t a deal-breaker, but worth noting if you’re thinking of moving debt onto this card or need cash advances.


While the Surge Mastercard may be a tool to improve or establish credit, it’s extra important to consider the costs and restrictions associated with it. Ideally, it would be a stepping stone to better financial products in the future.

Read more:

Key Surge Credit Card Fees & Rates



Annual fee


Monthly maintenance fee




APR for cash advances


Balance transfer fee


Cash advance fee

$10 or 3%*

Foreign transaction fee


Late fee

Up to $41

Minimum interest charge fee


Returned payment fee

Up to $41

Additional card fee


*Starting year two


Although Celtic Bank approves even those with a poor credit score, the fees and rates depend on your score and credit history—the better they are, the less money you need to fork out to use your card.

Things to Know About the Surge Card

What’s the Surge Mastercard credit limit?

The card’s credit limit starts between $300 and $1,000. The exact amount hangs on your credit score and other financial details.

While this may seem like pocket change compared to some posher cards, don’t forget that the Surge Mastercard is a buddy for people fixing up their credit or starting from scratch.

Plus, here’s a sweet deal: If you make your payments on time, you could see your credit limit rise.

If you want a higher starting limit, check out the Petal 2 card.

Surge card credit limit increases

The Surge card offers an interesting and potentially beneficial advantage—the possibility to increase your initial credit limit. 

Here’s what you need to know:

  • The increase doesn’t just happen automatically. It’s dependent on consistent and timely payments made on your end, showing your financial responsibility and reliability. 
  • A higher credit limit isn’t just about having more accessible funds. It positively impacts your credit score. How? It lowers your credit utilization ratio. This ratio is a measure of the amount you owe vis-à-vis your total credit limit.
  • Remember, having a lower credit utilization ratio is generally seen as positive and indicating less risk by lenders.

Alternatives: How Does Surge Compare to Other Credit Cards for Bad Credit?

The sad truth is—the lower your credit score, the worse your credit card will be.

Read more:

Credit-Building Alternatives That Won’t Kill Your Budget

If you’re in the market for a credit card that can help build credit, but looking for alternatives better than the Surge Mastercard, then here are a few worthy cards to check out

All of them are secured and require a one-time security deposit, but for our money—it’s a fair trade. Security deposits are usually one-time-only, and you get them back.

Big annual fees are basically lost the second the money leaves your account.

1. Discover it® Secured

This card offers a way to build or rebuild credit, while earning cashback on purchases—a rare perk for secured cards. And it has no annual fee.

It reports to all three credit bureaus and automatically reviews your account for possible upgrade to an unsecured card.

And Discover will match all the cashback you’ve earned at the end of your first year.

2. Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

With no annual fee and a $49, $99 or $200 minimum refundable deposit, Capital One Platinum Secured is another solid alternative to the Surge card.

The amount you deposit becomes your credit limit, and you can decide on how much you want it to be. The minimum amount is $49 and the maximum is $1,000.

3. OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

This card doesn’t require a credit check for approval, making it accessible to those with severely damaged credit. While it does have an annual fee of $35, it’s much lower than that of the Surge Mastercard. 

These cards may give you a more affordable way to build credit, with the added bonuses of cashback, lower fees, or flexible deposit requirements.

Oftentimes people who apply for a credit card encounter a “Catch-22” scenario in which they cannot secure a credit card to build their credit enough to be approved for one, and in this circumstance it is a good idea to apply for a secured credit card.

It is generally easier as income requirements are not as high, removing the impediment that is often much steeper with unsecured cards. By acquiring this classification of card, you can make small purchases and pay for them immediately, allowing you to raise your credit score at a much more rapid rate.

Derek FlanzraichCEO & Founder of Ness

Read more:

Useful Links

Pre-qualify for a Continental Finance Surge card with no harm to your score.

Apply for the Surge credit card here.

Contact Continental Finance customer service here.

Click here for the Surge credit card login page.

Download the Surge mobile app for iOS or Android.

Get more information on owning a credit card, your rights, and more at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s website.

Get your free credit score report.

Download our free credit card payoff calculator.

The Actual Consumer Reviews of the Surge Mastercard

There’s 10,542 reviews of the card (mostly about customer service) on Trustpilot, and an astounding 93% of them are five-star-reviews

Let’s see some of them—

“Great service, always a pleasure to call. The customer service team provides a 5-star experience.”

“My credit score has continued to go up. They raised my card limit pretty quickly. I wasn’t expecting it so soon. Which was fantastic! Be careful though—Surge gives nice raises. And that means your monthly interest is going to go up. It might be a little bit, to what may seem like a lot more, depending on how much you spend.”

The 2% of 1-star-reviews don’t seem significant, but let’s look at some of them, too—

“Would give 0 stars if I could. Worst customer service department ever. They don’t want to answer questions that you have. It has been a month and still no card. I asked where it is being shipped from, and I was told they don’t have that info.”

But then, the reviews of the card itself might be some food for thought—

“Took this card on due to stating 1,000 limit doubles after 6 mos paid on time that was false I’ve paid on time and paid extra payments, mine only went up 300, so I feel it’s falsely advertised, but that is my opinion I wouldn’t recommend based solely off that. I will be paying off and will discontinue using [it].”

“Payments are not being taken out of my account in a timely fashion on scheduled dates. This causes many problems and confusions with my bank and myself as well.”


“Ordered a replacement card over a month and a half ago and still haven’t got my card can’t even pay the bill without my card they only offer bank draft pay option they need to get up to date they’re messing up my 100% pay on my credit. I’m thinking about canceling them all together. Oh, and has the nerve to charge me a late fee for a card they haven’t sent me.”

“I got my card and was never able to log in to the online access. I called customer service and tech support 3 times to get it fixed. I finally got so frustrated I cancelled both cards issued to me through Celtic Bank. Now they want to charge me $5.95 to make a payment over the phone with my debit card. Terrible customer service.”i

Is Surge Credit Card Good for Me?

The Surge Mastercard might be a good option for you, if—

  1. You have less than awesome credit score and want to build it back up.
  2. You don’t plan on using the card much and won’t be dragged down by the high interest rate.
  3. You can’t get your hands on a better credit card just yet.
  4. You can pay the card off on time and have less than 30% of credit utilization ratio.

If these points don’t describe you, you can check out our review of the Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa®.


Is Surge a good credit card?

The Surge Card can be a good tool for building credit, and timely payments might get you a higher limit. 

But, it comes with high annual fees and interest rates. So, it’s helpful for credit improvement, but can be costly.

Check out some alternatives: Capital One Platinum Card Review and Chime Credit Card Review.

Does surge credit card have an annual fee?

Yes, the Surge Credit Card does have an annual fee. It can range from $75 to $125, depending on your creditworthiness determined at the time of application.

After the first twelve months, it also has a monthly maintenance fee of $10.

What credit score do you need for Surge credit card?

The Surge Credit Card is designed for people with poor to fair credit. Typically, this means a credit score ranging from 300 to 670. 

However, even if your credit score is lower, applying might still be worthwhile since other factors such as income are considered.

Plus, Celtic Bank does the soft pull—so you can easily check out if you prequalify.

Check out more options by reading our article on the 16 Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit in 2023.

When will I get my Surge credit card?

After your application for the Surge credit card is approved, it typically takes seven to ten business days for your card to arrive in the mail. But the exact timing might vary depending on the postal service. 

If you haven’t gotten your card after this time, you should contact customer service at 1-866-449-4514.

Some cardholders mention their card arrives late.

What bank is Surge credit card?

The Surge Credit Card is issued by Celtic Bank, a Utah-Chartered Industrial Bank, and serviced by Continental Finance Company.

What is Continental Finance?

Continental Finance is one of America’s leading marketers and servicers of credit cards for consumers with less-than-perfect credit. 

They specialize in offering access to credit products and services to those who are largely overlooked by traditional credit card issuers. The company is responsible for servicing cards like the Surge card.

See our reviews of the cards serviced by Continental Finance: FIT Credit Card ReviewReflex® Platinum Mastercard® Review, and Cerulean Credit Card Review.

What credit cards are under continental finance?

Cards serviced by Continental Finance include Reflex® Card, FIT® Card, Verve® Card, Surge® Card, Matrix Card, Cerulean® Card, and Revel™ Card. 

Learn more about them reading our honest reviews: FIT Credit Card ReviewReflex® Platinum Mastercard® Review, and Cerulean Credit Card Review.

Plus, see the best credit cards for bad credit and our list of the best unsecured credit cards for bad credit.


See all

Celtic Bank. (n.d.). The Surge Cardholder Agreement. Retrieved July 17, 2023, from https://files.consumerfinance.gov/a/assets/credit-card-agreements/pdf/Celtic_Bank/CFC_Surge_Cardholder_Agreement.pdf

Experian. (n.d.). Surge® Platinum Mastercard® – Experian CreditMatch. Experian. Retrieved July 17, 2023, from https://www.experian.com/credit/details/surge-platinum-mastercard