What Is Continental Finance, and Are Its Cards Right for You?

These credit cards come with high fees and few benefits. Better options exist, even for those with poor credit.
Jae Bratton
By Jae Bratton 
Updated
Edited by Kenley Young

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

MORE LIKE THISCredit Cards

Continental Finance is a credit card company that services credit cards for consumers with limited, fair or bad credit (FICO scores of 300-689). Its portfolio includes the following cards:

These products all share some important similarities. They’re unsecured cards, so a security deposit is not required to open the account. All cards report user activity to the three major credit bureaus, so by spending below your credit limit and paying off balances in full every month, you may be able to help your credit scores. And as an incentive, any one of these cards will double the initial credit limit after the first six monthly minimum payments are made on time. 

That’s the good news — but it doesn’t outweigh the bad. Major drawbacks of Continental Finance credit cards include myriad expensive fees, dizzying interest rates and no upgrade path to a better product when you're ready. And to get any of these cards, you'll need a checking account, which can present its own hurdles.

Here’s an overview of Continental Finance credit cards, plus some recommendations for alternatives that are less costly and more rewarding, even if you have bad credit.

At a glance

Card name

Annual fee

Monthly fee

Initial credit limit

Cerulean Mastercard

$125.

None.

$300-$1,000.

Fit Mastercard

$99.

Waived the first 12 months, then $6.25 per month.

$400.

Reflex® Platinum Mastercard®

$75-$125 in the first 12 months, then $99-$125 annually.

Waived the first 12 months, then $12.50 per month.

$300-$1,000.

Revel Mastercard

$75 - $125 in the first 12 months, then $99 - $125 annually.

Waived the first 12 months, then $0-$10 per month.

$300-$1,000.

Surge® Platinum Mastercard®

$75-$125 in the first 12 months, then $99-$125 annually.

Waived the first 12 months, then $0-$12.50 per month.

$300-$1,000.

Verve Mastercard

$75-$125 in the first 12 months, then $99-$125 annually.

Waived the first 12 months, then $0-$10 per month.

$300-$1,000.

🤓Nerdy Tip

The annual fee for all six Continental Finance credit cards is assessed upon account opening and thus immediately lowers your available credit. For example, if the card has a $300 credit limit and a $99 annual fee, you would be able to spend $201. You won't have access to the full credit limit until the annual fee is paid.

Cerulean credit card

Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card
NerdWallet rating 

The Cerulean credit card charges a hefty annual fee for a card with little upside. The annual fee is $125, and you won’t receive a credit limit higher than $1,000 upon account opening. And unlike an upfront deposit required for a secured credit card, annual fees are not refundable. As unappealing as these terms are, they're hardly the worst when compared with some of the other cards serviced by Continental Finance. (That dishonor may go to the next card on this list, the Fit credit card.)

Alternative pick: Chime Secured Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card acts like a prepaid debit card in some ways, but it reports user activity to all three credit bureaus like a credit card. This card doesn’t charge an annual fee or APR, but you need a Chime® account to get it.  

Chime says the following:

  • The secured Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card is issued by The Bancorp Bank, N.A. or Stride Bank, N.A., pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. and may be used everywhere Visa credit cards are accepted. Please see the back of your card for its issuing bank.

  • To apply for Credit Builder, you must have received a single qualifying direct deposit of $200 or more to your Chime® Checking Account. The qualifying direct deposit must be from your employer, payroll provider, gig economy payer, or benefits payer by Automated Clearing House (ACH) deposit OR Original Credit Transaction (OCT). Bank ACH transfers, Pay Anyone transfers, verification or trial deposits from financial institutions, peer to peer transfers from services such as PayPal, Cash App, or Venmo, mobile check deposits, cash deposits, one-time direct deposits, such as tax refunds and other similar transactions, and any deposit to which Chime deems to not be a qualifying direct deposit are not qualifying direct deposits.

  1. Based on a representative study conducted by Experian®, members who made their first purchase with Credit Builder between June 2022 and October 2022 observed an average FICO® Score 8 increase of 30 points after approximately 8 months. On-time payment history can have a positive impact on your credit score. Late payment may negatively impact your credit score.

  2. On-time payment history may have a positive impact on your credit score. Late payment may negatively impact your credit score. Chime will report your activities to Transunion®, Experian®, and Equifax®. Impact on your credit may vary, as Credit scores are independently determined by credit bureaus based on a number of factors including the financial decisions you make with other financial services organizations.

  3. Money added to Credit Builder will be held in a secured account as collateral for your Credit Builder Visa card, which means you can spend up to this amount on your card. This is money you can use to pay off your charges at the end of every month.

  4. Out-of-network ATM withdrawal and OTC advance fees may apply. View The Bancorp agreement or Stride agreement for details; see back of card for issuer.

Fit credit card

The Fit credit card charges an annual fee of $99, which at a glance seems better than the Cerulean. But the fees don’t stop there. If you want the Fit credit card, you’ll have to pay a one-time $89 processing fee to open the account. Because of those two fees, you’ll immediately owe $188 before you even use the card for your own purchases. After the first 12 months of having the Fit credit card, you’ll also be assessed a $6.25 monthly fee ($75 for the year), which is in addition to the annual fee. The Fit credit card may offer a credit limit as high as $3,000, but that feels like a meager reward in exchange for hundreds of dollars worth of fees.  

Alternative pick: Petal® 1 "No Annual Fee" Visa® Credit Card puts the Fit credit card to shame, with its lack of annual fees, foreign transaction fees, monthly fees or activation fees. (Variable APRs range from 25.24%- 34.74%.)

🤓Nerdy Tip

The next three credit cards on this list — the Reflex, Surge and Verve — offer a range of possible annual fees. The fee that you're actually assessed will be based on the initial credit limit you get. An annual fee of $75 in the first year is assigned a $300 credit limit; a higher annual fee of $125 in the first year comes with a bigger $1,000 credit limit.

Reflex® Platinum Mastercard®

The Reflex® Platinum Mastercard® earned a 1.8-star rating out of 5 from NerdWallet’s credit card team, and it’s easy to see why. It has an annual fee from $75 up to $125 in the first year, then from $99 up to $125 annually, plus a $12.50 monthly fee, which is waived the first year. Initial credit limits range from $300 to $1,000.

Discover it® Secured Credit Card
NerdWallet rating 

Alternative pick: Consider instead the Discover it® Secured Credit Card. Its annual fee is $0, and while it does have a $200 security deposit requirement, it's refundable. The card also earns rewards, and it even has a sign-up bonus, which Discover phrases this way: INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match. And on top of that, you might eventually qualify to upgrade to a better Discover card.

Revel credit card

The Revel card is available by invitation only, but if you happen to receive one, it’s probably best to decline. It has the same ludicrous annual and monthly fees as the Reflex® Platinum Mastercard®, a bright red flag considering that card couldn’t even muster a 2 out of 5-star rating in NerdWallet’s rubric.

Alternative pick: The Varo Believe Secured card, a similar product to the aforementioned Chime Secured Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card, is secured by the balance in a linked Varo bank account. However, that account must have received direct deposits of at least $200 in the past 90 days in order to qualify for the Varo Believe card. And, if the Safe Pay feature is enabled, Varo automatically makes credit card payments on your behalf from your Varo bank account, ensuring on-time payments.

Surge® Platinum Mastercard®

Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card
NerdWallet rating 

TheSurge® Platinum Mastercard® sings the same song as its Continental Finance siblings: It charges a steep annual fee of $75-$125 in the first year, and then $99-$125. After the first 12 months of opening the account, you may also have to pay a monthly fee of up to $12.50 per month. This means you might owe as much as $245 annually to hold this card, which is outrageous. Like the Reflex® Platinum Mastercard®, you also must have a checking account in order to open a Surge credit card.  

Alternative pick: The $0-annual-fee Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card earns an unlimited 1.5% cash back on purchases. After building up your credit, you may qualify to upgrade to an unsecured Capital One credit card. 

Verve credit card

The Verve credit card is practically identical to the Surge credit card; the only meaningful difference is the card issuer. That aside, the Verve and Surge credit cards have the same annual fee of $75-$125 in the first year, then $99-$125 after that. The initial credit limit on the Verve credit card is $300-$1,000, the same range as the Surge credit card. Monthly fees on the Verve credit card are waived for the first 12 months, but can cost as much as $10 thereafter.

Is a Continental Finance credit card right for you?

Given their various outlandish fees, Continental Finance credit cards will be a poor fit for most consumers. If you already have one of the cards on this list, take note of when the annual and monthly fees are due and try to pay them off immediately to avoid interest charges. Consider, too, canceling the card and replacing it with something better, if your credit scores are high enough. Closing a credit card can ding your credit scores, but that penalty may be worth it if it means getting rid of a credit card with excessive fees. 

You can cancel your credit card and get a refund of the annual fee by notifying the issuer that you want to close the account within 30 days from the date of the monthly billing statement on which the annual fee appears. Because the annual fee for all of these Continental Finance credit cards is assessed upon account opening, you’d need to close the account within the first 30 days to receive a refund. 

Find the right credit card for you.

Whether you want to pay less interest or earn more rewards, the right card's out there. Just answer a few questions and we'll narrow the search for you.

Get Started
Get more smart money moves – straight to your inbox
Sign up and we’ll send you Nerdy articles about the money topics that matter most to you along with other ways to help you get more from your money.