Credit Cards Cards for Bad Credit

Surge Mastercard Review

overall rating

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Bad credit often limits credit card options, but the Surge Mastercard offers qualified applicants an unsecured credit card without a hefty security deposit. However, the high fees and lack of rewards may make exploring alternative options worthwhile.

Surge Mastercard

Overall Rating
Surge Mastercard
On Continental Finance's Secured Site.
Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Poor - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 25.9% - 29.99% variable
Annual Fee $75 - $99
Rewards Earning Rate This card does not offer a rewards program.
how this card stacks up
When compared among all low cost cards in our database:
Low Fees
Security/Customer Experience
Low Interest
worst best

The Surge Mastercard is not one of our top-rated credit cards for bad credit. You can review our list of the best credit cards for bad credit for what we think are better options.

Full Review of Surge Mastercard

  • Potential unsecured card access

  • Monthly reporting to three major credit bureaus

  • Sky-high fees

  • Security deposit may be required

  • Higher-than-average APR on purchases

  • No rewards

Pros Explained

  • Unsecured Card Access: If you have bad credit or no credit, you may have to build your credit with a secured card, which requires a security deposit. But with the Surge Mastercard, you can potentially qualify for an unsecured credit card with a credit line of $300 to $1,000. 
  • Reports to the Three Major Credit Bureaus: Payments on your Surge Mastercard account are reported to the three major credit bureaus—Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion—each month. If you continually make all of your payments on time, using the Surge Mastercard can help you gradually improve your credit score. Most, but not all, credit card issuers report to the major credit bureaus. Before applying for a card designed for consumers with bad credit, make sure they’ll report your payment activity. 

Cons Explained

  • High Fees: While the Surge Mastercard is available to people with less-than-perfect credit, it charges very high fees, including: 
    Annual Fee: It will be $75-$99. The fee is deducted from your available credit line in the first month. 
  • Monthly Maintenance Fee: The fee is $120, billed at $10 per month and assessed at the start of your billing cycle.  
  • Additional Card Fee: If you add a user to your account, you’ll be charged $30. 
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: You’ll pay up to 0 - 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars made outside of the United States. 
  • Late Payment Fee: Miss a payment and you’ll be charged up to $40. 
  • Returned Payment Fee: If a payment is returned, you’ll pay up to $40. 

While cards for people with bad credit tend to charge fees, the Surge Mastercard’s fees are higher than you’d usually expect. If you’re looking for a credit card that is less expensive, consider the Petal credit card. It charges no annual fees, foreign transaction fees, monthly maintenance fees, or additional card fees, and it doesn’t require a credit check for applicants without an established credit history. 

  • Security Deposit may Apply: Applicants who fail to qualify for the Surge Mastercard without a security deposit are required to put down a refundable security deposit. The amount depends on your creditworthiness. The main benefit of the Surge Mastercard is that it’s an unsecured option for people with poor credit. If you don’t qualify for this card without a security deposit, that drawback negates its value. In this case, consider checking out the Milestone Gold card instead. While it also has high fees, it’s unsecured for all approved users. 
  • Higher-than-Average APR: At 29.09%, the Surge Mastercard’s APR on purchases is significantly higher than the national average for all credit cards that are assessed interest. While many cards for applicants with bad credit have high rates, carrying a balance while having such a high APR can cause your balance to grow over time. To avoid costly interest charges, aim to pay off your statement balance in full each month. If you anticipate carrying a balance, look for a credit card with a lower APR.
  • No Rewards Structure: The Surge Mastercard doesn’t offer any rewards, so you won’t earn cash back or points on purchases. That’s not atypical for a card for consumers with poor credit, but there are exceptions that offer valuable rewards. One option is the Discover it Secured card. It has no annual fee, and you’ll earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 spent each quarter. Plus, you’ll get unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. To put that in perspective, if you spent $5,000 in a year—$1,000 at gas stations and restaurants each quarter and $1,000 on other purchases—you’d earn $90 in rewards. 

This Card is Best For

  • Avatar for Credit Builder Persona
    Motivated to create positive credit history
    Credit Builder

According to Experian, one of the three major credit bureaus, 33% of Americans have a FICO score in the “very poor” to “fair” range, meaning their scores are between 300 and 669. If your credit score falls into those categories, you may struggle to get approved for a credit card, and you may be limited to a secured card. 

Secured cards often require security deposits of hundreds of dollars. If you don’t want to put down a security deposit, the Surge Mastercard may be an alternative. Depending on your credit, you could qualify for this card without a security deposit, giving you access to an unsecured line of credit. 

However, this card does charge a lot of fees. And, unlike a secured card’s security deposit, these fees aren’t refundable. Because of those drawbacks, the Surge Mastercard is only a good option for people who intend to use it as a short-term credit-building tool. Once you can qualify for a credit card with fewer fees, you can close your account. 

Standard Benefits

The card offers a few standard benefits, including: 

  • $0 liability on unauthorized charges
  • Monthly reporting to the three major credit bureaus
  • Online account access

Cardholder Experience

Surge Mastercard is issued by Celtic Bank, which is owned by Continental Finance. This company specializes in issuing credit cards to consumers who have less-than-perfect credit. Continental Finance was founded in 2005 and, according to its own reporting, manages over 2.6 million credit cards. 

As a niche card issuer, Continental Finance was not ranked in J.D. Power’s Credit Card Satisfaction Study. 

You can get help with your account by calling 866-449-4514. Customer service hours are not posted on the website.  

Security Features

This card offers standard security features, such as limited liability on unauthorized transactions, lost or stolen card replacement, and encryption technology. 

Our Verdict

While some consumers may qualify for the Surge Mastercard without having to put down a security deposit, they’ll still pay hundreds of dollars in fees just by being a cardholder. Unlike a secured card’s security deposit, those fees aren’t refundable. 

If possible, look for other cards—including secured credit cards—that don’t charge annual and monthly fees. You’ll get all of the credit-building benefits of the Surge Mastercard without wasting money on extra fees. 

If you’re looking for another option and you have bad credit, consider the Secured Mastercard from Capital One. It has no annual fee, and you can get an initial credit limit of $200 when you make a refundable deposit of $49, $99, or $200, depending on your creditworthiness. After making your first six monthly payments on time, you may qualify for an increased credit limit without making an additional security deposit.

Compare This Card
See how this card compares to similar cards
Surge Mastercard
overall rating
Surge Mastercard
Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Poor - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 25.9% - 29.99% variable
Annual Fee $75 - $99
Investopedia Credit Card Rating Methodology
Investopedia is committed to delivering the best credit card recommendations in the industry. We’ll tell you when a card is good, we’ll tell you when a card is bad, and we’ll only call a card the best if we would recommend it to our friends or family members.
Overall Star Rating Explained
To rate credit cards we objectively assess, score and weight nearly 100 individual card features which roll up into five major feature sets: fees, interest, rewards, benefits and security/customer service. Here’s how we weighted those feature sets for the overall star rating of a card:
We have applied our proprietary rating methodology to every generally-accepted credit card in the U.S. domestic market to allow consumers to make fully informed choices. It’s important to note that for our overall score that we make a number of assumptions about how you would be using your credit card:
  1. While we make no assumption as to whether balances are carried on a given card we do assign varying weights to all credit cards’ introductory APR (if present) in addition to the regular, long term purchase and balance transfer interest rates.
  2. We utilize BLS (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) income and average category spending data to calculate annual earnings rates for rewards cards that offer cash back, points or miles rewards at a set rate on all spending or in consideration of bonus rewards for certain spending categories, like gasoline, groceries, restaurants or travel.
  3. We determine the maximum points value of rewards cards by dividing the points, cash back or miles required to exchange for the retail price of the most valuable redemption option (for example, in the case of a card that offers a domestic roundtrip airline ticket as a redemption option vs. another redemption option of lesser value that requires the same amount of points or miles to acquire, we would base the rewards value on the airline ticket).
  • Cards that are selected best overall in their respective categories generally feature most if not all of the following attributes:
  • Low or Reasonable Fees Credit card fees come in many forms but the primary ones involve those for annual card membership and balance transfer. There are a myriad of reward and non-reward card options that charge no annual fee but for the many that do assess an annual fee the cost is often justified by their lucrative ongoing rewards and initial signup bonuses. Balance transfer fees are occasionally waived during introductory periods with certain cards, a factor which is heavily and positively weighted in our scoring model for cards offering this benefit. When charged, balance transfer fees range between 3% - 5%, which we grade accordingly. Other standard fees can generally be avoided, such as those for paying late or taking cash advances but we rate those relative to other cards in the market for reference, though with less weight assigned
  • Competitive Interest Many cards offer 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for varying lengths and then revert to a permanent or regular APR (based on a variable rate tied to the prime rate) that applies to any balances not paid in full. We rate both introductory APR percentage and length (in months) along with the midpoint of the variable regular APR interest rate range.
  • Valuable Rewards Credit card reward programs can be based on cash back, points or travel rewards (which can be generic or travel partner-specific, as with airline and hotel co-brand card programs). For cards that offer rewards we determine the value per dollar spent along with average redemption values and assign more favorable ratings to cards that offer superior consumer value. We also assign value to sign-up bonus offers and their initial spending requirements, when present.
  • Excellent Benefits Credit card benefits cover a range of offerings like concierge service, TSA Pre-check, auto rental coverage, travel accident insurance, lost luggage assistance and free credit scores. We rate cards on the number and level of over a dozen standard and upscale benefits and provide extra weighting emphasis for those travel-related perks that apply to premium travel cards when present.
  • Solid Security/Customer Service Security and customer service features like lost or stolen card replacement, being able to lock one’s card from an issuer app and 24 hour customer support are becoming more standard across the card market and we provide a significant amount of weighting to features in this area.
  • You can also read the full version of our methodology for a more in-depth look at how we assess cards and award them the best in various categories.