|Credit Building Rating:||1.5 / 5|
|Cost of Membership||0.4|
|Ease of Building Credit||3.9|
In a Nutshell:
The Surge Mastercard could get you a high credit limit and a chance at a credit limit increase in as little as six months, but the card’s inflated fees and APR make it a poor choice for most credit-builders.
Average Cost of Membership Per Year
Security Deposit Required
Initial Credit Limit
Access To Higher Credit Line?
You can request a credit limit increase after 6 months of on-time payments
See rates and fees
See rates and fees
Other Rates and Fees
The Surge Mastercard® Credit Card offers a few key advantages for credit-builders, including a relatively high starting credit limit and a chance to increase your limit after six months of responsible use. You can qualify with bad credit or no credit history, and if you’re approved for the unsecured version of the card, you won’t have to put down any money in a security deposit.
However, the card carries high fees and a high APR, making it both a costly and risky option for cardholders short on cash. Add to this the catch that there’s no guarantee you’ll be approved for the unsecured version of the card and the Surge Mastercard becomes tough to recommend for most credit-builders.
Unless you can’t afford to tie up money in a deposit, you’ll almost certainly be better off opting for a no- or low-annual-fee secured credit card.
High fees and APR
If you’ve been comparing credit cards for people with bad credit or a limited credit history, it may come as no surprise to learn that the Surge Mastercard carries its share of fees. High annual or monthly maintenance fees are common among unsecured credit-building cards, and the Surge Mastercard is no exception.
While the exact cost of carrying the Surge Mastercard will vary based on your credit history and length of membership, it is likely to far exceed that of the typical secured card. The Discover it® Secured Credit Card and Secured Mastercard® from Capital One, for example, both charge no annual fee at all.
The Surge Mastercard also carries a high ongoing APR, regardless of your credit history. While the card’s rate is on par with that of many unsecured credit-building cards, it’s much higher than the average credit card interest rate and could spell trouble if you wind up needing to carry a balance.
No guarantee of an unsecured card
One of the biggest red flags you’ll find if you read the Surge Mastercard’s terms is that, depending on your credit profile, you may be offered a secured version of the card instead of the unsecured version. Without the guarantee of an unsecured card, it’s hard to justify the Surge Mastercard’s high fees, especially given the wide selection of secured cards that charge lower annual fees or no fees at all.
Making things worse, if you do wind up with the secured version of the Surge Mastercard, there’s no clear path for “graduating” to the unsecured version of the card.
Credit limit range and increase potential
Assuming you qualify for the unsecured version of the card, the Surge Mastercard could be a decent option if want a chance at a relatively high credit limit without putting down a deposit. The card offers a starting credit limit of $300 to $750, depending on your credit history and financial profile.
While a starting limit of $200 to $300 is common among unsecured cards for people with damaged credit, a $750 limit is on the high side.
This could be a major plus if you’re looking to build credit, as a higher credit limit will make it much easier to keep your credit utilization – the amount of money you’ve borrowed relative to your total available credit – in check.
That said, since there’s no guarantee you’ll be approved for the unsecured version of the Surge Mastercard, you’ll likely be better off putting down a deposit on a lower-cost secured card and setting your own credit limit.
Secured cards typically base your credit limit on the size of your deposit, and a number of high-limit secured cards let you put down $2,000 or more and get a matching limit. Such a high limit could significantly boost your credit-building efforts, as your credit utilization ratio accounts for 30% of your credit score.
See related:What affects your credit score?
The Surge Mastercard comes with $0 fraud liability, and cardholders can enroll in e-statements to receive a free monthly credit score, but otherwise the card offers next to nothing in the way of cardholder benefits.
The Surge Mastercard does report monthly to all three national credit bureaus, however. This may not sound particularly impressive – and it should be considered the bare minimum for all credit cards – but some low-end credit-building cards only report to a single bureau.
The Surge Mastercard is designed for users with no credit history or a subpar credit score, so it should be within reach for most credit-builders. Like most credit cards, however, the Surge Mastercard requires applicants to have a checking account.
You can also prequalify for the card with only a soft pull of your credit report. This won’t affect your credit score and is not a guarantee of approval, but it should give you some extra peace of mind before you submit a formal application.
See related:What is a ‘soft pull’ credit card?
How does the Surge Mastercard compare to other credit-building cards?
Though it offers a chance at a relatively high credit limit and opportunities to increase your limit over time, the Surge Mastercard is less-than-ideal for credit-builders on a budget due to its high fees.
Depending on your credit history, you may qualify for a handful of more affordable unsecured cards, some of which give you a chance to make up their cost with rewards and other benefits. Here are a few of our favorite alternatives:
1.5% cash back on all purchases
1% cash back on eligible purchases including gas, groceries and phone services. Terms apply.
1% cash back on eligible purchases right away. Up to 1.5% cash back on every purchase after making 12 on-time monthly payments.
Starting at $300
$0-$95 first year, $0-$99 each additional year
|Other things to know||Other things to know||Other things to know|
Geared more toward cardholders with an average credit score, the Capital One QuicksilverOne card offers unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase. While this is not the most impressive cash back rate, it should help to offset the card’s $39 annual fee. You’ll also have a chance at a credit limit increase if you make six consecutive on-time payments.
While the Credit One Bank Visa for Rebuilding is still not the cheapest option, the card offers good approval odds even with poor credit and comes with a cash back rewards program that can help reduce your total cost of ownership. It’s also an unsecured card, so you won’t have to tie up hundreds in a deposit just to get started.
See related:Credit One vs. Capital One
A unique credit-building offering for those with a limited credit history, the Petal 2 card earns cash back with no deposit required and no fees of any kind. You’ll earn 1% back on eligible purchases to start, with this rate increasing to 1.25% after you make six on-time monthly payments and to 1.5% after 12 on-time monthly payments. Additionally, since the issuer considers alternative credit data in its approval decisions, it’s a great option for someone with limited credit but a good income and bill payment history.
Who should get the Surge Mastercard?
- Cardholders with a limited credit history or lackluster credit score looking to build credit.
- Cardholders who want a chance at a higher-than-average credit limit on an unsecured credit-building card.
- Cardholders who want to avoid putting down a deposit (though there’s no guarantee you’ll be approved for an unsecured version of the Surge Mastercard).
How to use the Surge Mastercard:
- Pay on time and keep your credit utilization low to give yourself the best chance of improving your credit score.
- Pay the card off in full each month to avoid the card’s potentially high APR.
- Use the card responsibly for your first six months to get a chance at a credit limit increase.
- If you’re offered the secured version of the Surge Mastercard, consider putting down the highest deposit you can to keep your credit utilization in check and potentially fast-track your credit-building efforts.
Is the Surge Mastercard worth it?
Unless you have no other options, the Surge Mastercard is unlikely to be your best credit-building option. Not only does the card carry high fees and a high APR, regardless of your credit history, but there’s also no guarantee you’ll be approved for the unsecured version of the card. And if you wind up with the secured version of the card, its cost will be very difficult to justify.
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