By Marcy Bialeschki


5 Min. To Read

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In the ocean of credit cards for people with struggling credit, the Surge MasterCard by Celtic Bank offers some useful features. Like most credit building cards, it doesn't tout any fancy rewards or sign-up incentives. Still, it does receive an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.

It's safe to say, the Surge MasterCard is a respectable option for people who might have trouble getting a traditional credit card.

The real eye-catcher the Surge MasterCard has going for it is its high credit limit, comparatively. The lowest initial credit limit is $300, which is $100 more than the max limits on most other credit building cards.

Depending on the severity of your credit issues, your Surge MasterCard credit limit will be between $300 and $750, initially. Even better news -- this amount has the potential to increase in a little as six months.

Another feature that makes the Surge card exceptionally beneficial is monthly reporting to all three major credit bureaus. Charging a manageable amount every month and paying it off on time is the best way to improve an undesirable credit score.

Plus, you'll receive free monthly access to your Vantage 3.0 score from TransUnion if you sign up to go paperless with e-statements.

Owning a Surge MasterCard also gives you access to Knowledge Base, a free credit building resource. Celtic Bank offers this feature to help people who are genuinely trying to improve their credit. Knowledge Base is a wealth of information, advice, and other resources for people trying to get their credit back on track and stay that way.

Being a responsible credit card user is a lot easier when you have the tools to manage your account in the palm of your hand.

The mobile app gives you full access to your account 24/7 from nearly anywhere. You can view statements, make payments, view due dates, and more. The same features are also available with online access.

The application process is easy and accessible to almost anyone. You can apply online, over the phone, or through the mail. And if you apply one of the first two ways, your decision could be almost instant.

However, some people have more complicated credit issues than others, and acceptance can take up to 30 days, but this is rare. The even better news is you can see if you pre-qualify without harming your credit score.

Once you are accepted, your new Surge MasterCard is in the mail within three business days.

There is very little not to love about the Surge MasterCard. It offers a generous initial line of credit and is a helpful stepping-stone to improving your credit score.

However, this card will not be very forgiving if you plan only to pay the minimum balance. At 25.99% - 29.99%, the purchase APR is one of the most punishing in the industry. Best practices for using this card include paying the balance every month to avoid the added financial stress and burden of compounding interest.

The bad news continues, unfortunately. While the Surge MasterCard does not assess monthly fees the first year, you could be asked to pay up to $10 a month on your second anniversary. That's $120 a year in addition to the $75 - $99 annual fee.

One bright spot here is if your credit is good enough to have the $750 credit limit, the monthly fees are waived. It's unclear if this is an incentive to achieve and keep good credit, or if the extra fees just kick you while you are down.

Let's run down and review some of the Surge MasterCard details and assess if this is the right card for you.

Annual Fee = $75 - $99, based on creditworthiness

The Surge MasterCard has $0 fraud liability. You will never be held responsible for charges you didn't make.

Initial Credit Limit = $300 - $750 -- one of the highest in the market

Your initial credit limit can increase in as little as six months with responsible use.

You'll have monthly reporting to three major credit bureaus to help you repair your credit as quickly as possible.

You'll have 24/7 access to your account by using the mobile app.

Seeing if you pre-qualify does not harm your credit score.

The 25.99% - 29.99% purchase APR is one of the highest in the industry.

You will not be assessed any monthly fees for the first year. But after that period, you could be charged up to $120 a year in monthly fees.

The monthly fees are waived for customers with the $750 credit limit.

You will be required to have a checking account to own a Surge MasterCard.

Sound Advice

Everyone has a little financial mishap now and then, and the Surge MasterCard is a decent choice to help repair your credit. If you get the Surge card, the following is a shortlist of best use practices to ensure you improve your credit quickly.

The Surge card is probably best suited for people who can use it responsibly for a year and then have built their credit enough to get a different card. This way, you will not be assessed the monthly fees.

Do not carry a balance. The Surge card APR is credit-crushing if you have even one little slip-up.

Take advantage of the credit tips offered for free through Knowledge Base.

Sign-up for e-statements so you will receive a free monthly credit report to keep track of your progress.

Do your research on credit building cards. If the Surge MasterCard seems like a possibility, it will not hurt your credit score to see if you pre-qualify.

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