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Kevin Joey Chen is a credit cards writer at finder.com. He's passionate about helping you get your finances in order and travel the world like a pro. He's taken an extended trip around Europe as a digital nomad, gaining firsthand experience with exchange rates, ideal (and not-so-ideal) credit and debit cards, foreign transactions and budgeting strategies. He earned his BA from UC Davis and has written across many niches at Finder, including cryptocurrency, personal loans, car insurance, real estate and money transfers.
This is an unsecured card you can apply for even with damaged credit. Continental Finance, the card servicer, will report your payment history to the three major US credit bureaus, which is vital for improving your credit score. And unlike some other subprime unsecured cards, the Surge Mastercard® Credit Card has a grace period. That means you can avoid interest payments if you pay off your card balance in full each billing cycle.
Reasons to avoid this card — and which card type to get instead
Unfortunately, the card comes with heavy costs. Its annual fee will take a significant chunk out of your credit limit, and you’ll pay monthly maintenance fees starting your second card year. What’s more, you’ll pay a steep price if you carry a balance, as the card comes with a sky-high APR.
If you have bad credit, strongly consider one card type in particular: a secured card. You’ll need to put down a security deposit, but it’s refundable. Meanwhile, you could easily pay hundreds of dollars in nonrefundable fees with the Surge Mastercard® Credit Card.
The Surge Mastercard® Credit Card isn’t necessarily an unsecured card
While the card is marketed as an unsecured card, you may be required to put down a security deposit depending on your credit. Continental Finance doesn’t state how you might get this deposit back while you’re a cardholder. That’s a contrast to a provider such as Discover, which will review your account starting at eight months to see if it can return your deposit.
Apply with credit of any type. Continental Finance, the card servicer, markets this card to consumers with all levels of credit — good, bad and limited.
Payment history reported to the three major bureaus. As you pay your card bills, Continental Finance will report your payment history to the three major US credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. With consistent on-time payments, you’ll steadily build your credit.
Receive a starting credit limit of $500. This is a good starting limit for a subprime card. However, watch out for the annual fee, which will reduce your available credit right away.
Get a decision on your application quickly. Continental Finance advertises a quick application process. Because you can apply online, you may receive an immediate decision on your application. If Continental Finance needs to review your application further, allow 7 to 10 business days to hear back.
Transaction fees waived for the first 12 months after account opening. For the first 12 months, you won’t pay cash advance or foreign transaction fees. Still, strongly consider avoiding cash advances, as they’ll accrue interest right away.
What to watch out for
Annual fee: $125 for the first card year, then $96. This is a very high annual fee, especially for a card that doesn’t offer rewards. If you don’t want to pay this cost, consider a secured card, which can be a lot cheaper. The Surge Mastercard® Credit Card annual fee will be deducted from your credit limit each card year. If you start with a $500 limit, for example, it will drop to $375 immediately.
Monthly maintenance fee: $10 starting the second card year. Starting your second card year, Continental Finance will charge $10 every month as a maintenance fee, which adds up to $120 a year. This is highly unusual for most credit cards, and it can get expensive. As with high annual fees, however, monthly maintenance fees aren’t unheard of with subprime cards. To avoid these costs, look into secured cards.
You may be required to put down a security deposit. Continental Finance will review your application for an unsecured card. However, it may approve you for a secured card instead. In that case, you may need to put down a refundable deposit of $50, $100, $150 or $500. Continental Finance may use this deposit to pay off your balance if you don’t pay your card bill.
High interest. Your purchase and cash advance APR will be 29.99% variable, which is an extremely high rate. Strongly consider paying off your balance in full each month, or you could find your interest multiplying faster than you expect.
Penalty and transaction fees. You’ll pay up to $39 per late payment and up to $39 per returned payment. These are standard across the credit card industry. After the first 12 months, you’ll pay the greater of $5 or 5% per cash advance and a 3% fee per foreign transaction.
How to apply for the Surge Mastercard® Credit Card
Complete the application form with details like your name, address, contact information and annual income.
Review your application and submit it.
What credit score do I need?
You can apply with limited, fair or even good credit. Continental Finance markets this card as a tool that helps you build or re-establish credit.
Compare secured cards
You can apply for the Surge Mastercard® Credit Card even if you have low to fair credit. However the card comes with steep fees and interest, and you’re not guaranteed to get the unsecured version. For this reason, you could find a better card that serves your needs.
With a secured card, you must put down a security deposit upfront — typically a minimum of $200 to $300. An unsecured card doesn’t require this deposit.
For a credit card provider, taking on a new customer comes down to risk. It wants to make sure that if you use your card, you’ll pay back what you owe.
Because a secured card requires an upfront deposit, your provider can take this deposit if you don’t pay your card bill. This is why many secured-card providers are willing to offer lower fees: There’s less risk of them getting stiffed on unpaid debt.
If you have an unsecured card, meanwhile, your provider has to trust you’ll pay back what you owe. If you have bad credit, you’re seen as a riskier customer. The cards you qualify for will likely come with high fees as a way to mitigate that risk.
If you have a credit card, the most important ways to improve your credit score are making your card payments on time and keeping your balances low. Read our guide on FICO scores to see other methods.
Typically, you should allow 7 to 10 business days to receive your card.
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