Surge Credit Card Review: A Pricey Way to Build Credit

While it doesn't require a security deposit, its fees could run you close to $250 a year. Any number of other cards for bad credit would be a better pick.
Melissa Lambarena Author Avatar
Jan 9, 2024 12:36 p.m. PST
Edited by
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The bottom line:

Even if you have poor credit, there's little upside to this card. Look instead to secured credit cards, keeping in mind that the deposit you'll owe is refundable — unlike the fees here.

Surge® Platinum Mastercard® Image
Surge® Platinum Mastercard®
Annual Fee

$75 - $125 intro first year, then $99 - $125

Regular APR

29.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

See Continental Finance's website for Details*

Rec. credit score

Annual Fee

$75 - $125 intro first year, then $99 - $125

Regular APR

29.99% Variable APR

  • Annual fee

    $75 - $125 intro first year, then $99 - $125

  • Rewards rate


  • Bonus offer


  • Intro APR

    See Continental Finance's website for Details*

  • Ongoing APR

    APR: 29.99% Variable APR

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars

More details from Continental Finance
View Rates and Fees
  • Up to $1,000 credit limit doubles up to $2,000! (Simply make your first 6 monthly minimum payments on time).
  • All credit types welcome to apply!
  • Monthly Credit Score – Sign up for electronic statements, and get your Vantage 3.0 Score Credit Score From Experian.
  • Initial Credit Limit of $300 – $1,000 (subject to available credit).
  • Monthly reporting to the three major credit bureaus.
  • See if you’re Pre-Qualified without impacting your credit score.
  • Fast and easy application process; results in seconds.
  • Online account access 24/7.
  • Checking Account Required.
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Detailed review: Surge® Platinum Mastercard®

The Surge® Platinum Mastercard®, issued by Celtic Bank and serviced by Continental Finance, offers some qualities that may appeal to those seeking a second chance at building credit. But its fees far outweigh its benefits.

There's no security deposit required, and it does offer a pre-qualification process, as well as the chance at a higher credit limit. It also reports payments to all three major credit bureaus, which can help your credit if you pay your monthly bill on time.

But even among credit cards for bad credit (FICO scores of 629 or lower), the Surge® Platinum Mastercard® is an expensive option that is likely not sustainable over the long term. You stand to save money by paying a security deposit on a secured credit card, as you can get that money back with a good payment history. With the Surge® Platinum Mastercard®, you’ll never get back the ongoing annual fee (up to $125) or the potential monthly maintenance fees (up to $10).

That’s a cost of up to $245 annually in fees alone, plus more if you pay interest charges.

There are plenty of better (and much less expensive) credit cards for bad credit.

Surge® Platinum Mastercard®: Basics

Annual fee: $75 - $125 intro first year, then $99 - $125.

Monthly maintenance fee: $0 the first year; after that, $0 to $10 per month (up to $120 annually).

Sign-up bonus: N/A.

Rewards: None.

APR: See Continental Finance's website for Details*.

Late fee: Up to $41.

Foreign transaction fee: 3%.

Benefits and perks

Payments reported to major credit bureaus

The Surge® Platinum Mastercard® reports payments to all three major credit bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax and Experian), companies that collect the information used to calculate your credit scores. Reporting payments to all three credit bureaus is a must-have feature if your goal is to build credit, but it’s not a standout feature. Many other credit cards for bad credit also report payments to these companies, so this feature alone shouldn’t be the only factor that sways your decision.

A potential credit limit increase

The initial credit limit for the Surge® Platinum Mastercard® ranges from $300 to $1,000. After six months of on-time payments, you can double your credit limit. A credit limit increase can lower your credit utilization ratio, the amount of available credit used, which is a key factor in calculating credit scores.

Drawbacks and considerations

Expensive fees

The expensive fees on the Surge® Platinum Mastercard® make it difficult to justify keeping your account open over time, which is ideal if you want to build good credit. As is the case with any credit card, it can hurt your credit scores if you close your account.

But consider what it'll cost you to not close out this card:

  • Annual fee: $75 - $125 intro first year, then $99 - $125.

  • Monthly maintenance fee: $0 the first year, then $0 to $10 per month (up to $120 annually).

  • Late payment fee: Up to $41.

For lower fees, instead consider the $0-annual-fee Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card. It requires an upfront security deposit, but unlike the various fees on the Surge® Platinum Mastercard®, that deposit is refundable. And there are different minimum deposit requirements — $49, $99 or $200 — depending on your eligibility. Regardless of which one you qualify for, you’ll get a minimum $200 credit limit. There's also a potential upgrade path to better Capital One products once your credit improves.

No path to better options

Even if you're able to use the Surge® Platinum Mastercard® to shore up your credit, there is no outlined path to upgrade to a better credit card when you're ready. For a reliable path to upgrade, instead consider the $0-annual-fee Discover it® Secured Credit Card. It has a minimum $200 security deposit requirement, but again that money is refundable. The card also offers rewards and a sign-up bonus, which may help make up some of the cost of the security deposit. The Discover it® Secured Credit Card touts that it reviews accounts after seven months to determine your eligibility to upgrade to a traditional unsecured credit card, in which case you'll get your deposit back.

A high APR

The Surge® Platinum Mastercard® charges a high interest rate. (See Continental Finance's website for Details*.) While that’s not uncommon among credit cards for those with less-than-ideal credit, there are options like the Chime Secured Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card that skip interest charges and fees altogether. It doesn’t function like a traditional secured credit card. You can choose your own security deposit, but you’ll have to open a Chime Checking Account first. The amount moved from the spending account to the Credit Builder secured account determines your credit limit. Keep in mind that the Chime Secured Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card also doesn’t have a path to upgrade to a better option, but it is a more accessible and less costly option than the Surge® Platinum Mastercard®.

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., Members FDIC, 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 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 loads or 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 2020 and October 2020 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 over the counter advance fees may apply. See here for details:

No rewards

Rewards aren’t necessarily a priority when your goal is to build credit, but some cards in this class offer them. The $0-annual-fee Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card, for instance, earns 1.5% cash back on most purchases. It also offers an automatic credit limit review after six months and an opportunity to graduate to an unsecured version of the same card if you're eligible. It requires a minimum $200 security deposit, but with a good payment history you can eventually get that money back once you upgrade to the unsecured option or close the account. The rewards can also return some value while your deposit is tied up.

How to decide if it's right for you

The Surge® Platinum Mastercard® has very few pros compared with its long list of cons. With hefty ongoing fees, you’re better off exploring secured credit card options that have lower long-term costs. Secured credit cards can offer a chance to get your deposit back, but you’ll never get back the annual fee and monthly maintenance fee on the Surge® Platinum Mastercard®.


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