Editorial Review

Reflex Mastercard Review: Its Fees Alone Should Make You Flinch

This is a costly credit card with flimsy benefits, even for those with bad credit. Plenty of better options exist.

Gregory KarpJune 3, 2020

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Our Take

2.2

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line: This card caters to people with bad credit, but with its high fees and high interest, it's just not worth it.

Reflex Mastercard® Credit Card

on Celtic Bank's website

Annual Fee

See Terms*

Regular APR

See Terms*

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

Quick Facts

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Qualify with limited / bad credit

  • Reports to three bureaus

Cons

  • High fees

  • High APR

  • No rewards

  • Requires checking account

Alternate Pick: No annual fee, plus rewards

Discover it® Secured

Higher possible credit line

This card has a $0 annual fee, not to mention ongoing rewards and a bonus phrased 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." You'll need a minimum $200 security deposit, which will equal your credit line, but deposits can be as high as $2,500.

Read our review

Compare to Other Cards

Capital One Secured Mastercard Credit Card

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

Annual Fee

See Terms*

Annual Fee

$35

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

See Terms*

Regular APR

17.39% Variable APR

Regular APR

26.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

Full Review

With the Reflex Mastercard® Credit Card, your first reflex should be to avoid it. It’s a fee-heavy card with high interest rates and low credit limits.

True, it can help you build or rebuild credit. And issuers that accept applicants with bad credit (those with FICO scores of 629 or below) need to be compensated for all the customers who will fail to pay their credit card bills. That compensation comes in the form of high fees and rates.

But even the credit-desperate have better choices.

Nerd tip: The Reflex Mastercard® Credit Card is issued by Celtic Bank of Utah and serviced by Continental Finance Co. The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau described Continental Finance as a subprime credit card company that offers “fee-harvester” subprime credit cards in 2015, when it ordered Continental to refund $2.7 million in illegal credit card fees.

Reflex Mastercard® Credit Card: Basics and benefits

Card type: Bad credit, secured.

Annual fee: Between $75 and $99.

Maintenance fee: None in the first year. $0-$120 annually, billed at up to $10 per month, after the first 12 months.

Fee for additional cards: $30.

Sign-up bonus: N/A.

Rewards: None.

APR: 25.90% - 29.90% Variable APR.

Foreign transaction fee: 3% after the first 12 months.

Other benefits:

Why you're better off passing on the Reflex Mastercard® Credit Card — and what you should consider instead

Fees, Fees and MORE fees

Here are the fees the Reflex Mastercard® Credit Card charges in the first 12 months:

  • Annual fee: Up to $99.

  • Additional card fee: $30 for each authorized user you add to your account. On most cards, this is free.

And here are the fees after the first 12 months:

  • Annual fee: $99.

  • Monthly maintenance fee: $0 to $120, billed at up to $10 per month.

  • Foreign transaction fee: 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars.

In short, these fees are high, especially if you get hit with the monthly maintenance charge after the first year.

You could instead rebuild your credit with a good secured credit card that doesn’t charge annual fees. With a secured credit card, the security deposit eventually comes back to you if you maintain a good payment history. Not so with an annual fee.

For example, the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® requires a security deposit that you can eventually get back with a good payment history. For those who qualify, the card might accept a deposit as low as $49, $99 or $200. And you can pay the deposit in installments if needed. It has a $0 annual fee, and it also offers a potential path to a higher credit line once you've made your first five monthly payments on time.

If you have limited or no credit — as opposed to bad credit — you can find alternative cards that have no annual fee and no security deposit requirement. Consider the Petal® Visa® Credit Card, for example, which is issued by WebBank and touts itself as a low-cost option for those looking to build a credit history. Petal’s issuer can also use its own underwriting model to evaluate creditworthiness, considering such things as income, spending and savings. The annual fee is $0. And the card earns rewards.

And if instead of bad credit what you really have is average credit (FICO scores of at least 630), then you have a slew of options better than the Reflex Mastercard® Credit Card.

Low initial credit limit

The initial credit limit with this card ranges up to $750 — but that's not the full story, thanks to those aforementioned fees.

Per the card’s terms and conditions: “Some of these set-up and maintenance fees will be assessed before you begin using your card and will reduce the amount of credit you initially have available. For example, if you are assigned the minimum credit limit of $500 and your annual fee is $99, your initial available credit will be $401 (or $371 if you choose to have an additional card).”

So out of the gate, a credit limit of $500 is really $401 (or $371) because the card has socked you with a fee before you even get it in the mail. That’s around 20% of your credit limit gone on Day One, and now you’re in debt.

The $0-annual-fee Discover it® Secured requires a deposit that determines your credit limit, but it can range from $200 to $2,500, so you have flexibility. It also earns rewards and has a bonus offer, phrased 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.

If you have at least fair credit, the Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card may also offer you access to a higher credit line after you make your first five monthly payments on time. And it, too, earns rewards: 1.5% back on all spending. There's an annual fee, but it's a much more palatable $39.

Not necessarily Unsecured

This is marketed as a regular unsecured credit card, meaning you don’t have to come up with a deposit like you do with secured cards. (However, you would still have to come up with at least the annual fee or you’ll quickly be paying exorbitant interest on it. More on that later.)

But some applicants won’t qualify for an unsecured card and will be required to put down a security deposit, up to the full amount of the credit limit, according to the card’s terms and conditions. The deposit would have to be paid before the account is opened. If you don’t pay your credit card bill, you’ll lose some or all of the deposit.

Sky-high interest rates

Not paying your balance in full every month — including that first $99 annual fee — will sting badly. The card has an APR of 25.90% - 29.90% Variable APR.

If you plan to carry a balance, you may be better off with the $0-annual-fee DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card, which has a much better APR. The ongoing APR is 13.75%, Variable — which is even lower than the rates on many unsecured cards. You'll need to qualify for membership at that credit union to be eligible for the card.

Requires a checking account

Like some other cards for people with bad credit, the Reflex Mastercard® Credit Card requires you to have a checking account.

If that’s a problem, consider the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card. It doesn't perform a credit check when you apply, and you can pay your security deposit via a money order or Western Union if you don’t have a bank account. There is a $35 annual fee, however.

Should you get the Reflex Mastercard® Credit Card?

No. There are much better options, even for bad credit.

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