Continental Finance Credit Card Review

Improve your credit score by spending responsibly with the Surge or Reflex Mastercard from Continental Finance. This card could be ideal for consumers with “Poor” or “Fair” credit.

Featured Credit Cards of 2018
Featured Credit Cards of 2018
Compare cards for all credit ranges.

What's scarier—the latest thriller on the big screen or your credit score?

If it's your credit score that's giving you the creeps, you're definitely not alone.

In fact, Experian reports that about a third of Americans have "Poor" credit.

Still, that's not a club that you'd want to be a member of for too long.

The good news is you can rebuild your credit history.

And you can start to improve your credit score much faster than you think.

While you might have been declined by the bigger banks, it's important to know that you are not locked out of the credit card game completely.

With the Reflex and Surge credit cards from Continental Finance, you'll not only have convenience of having a card, you'll also get back on the road to a healthier credit score.

What is Continental Finance?

Established in 2005, Continental Finance Company is a credit card provider whose mission is to help consumers establish or rebuild their credit.

Since then, the company has grown to manage more than two million credit cards.

Bad and poor credit scores are eligible. Continental Finance's specialty is working with consumers who may not qualify for traditional credit cards, whether it's because they're just starting out or they're trying to rebuild a tarnished credit history.

Consumers with scores under 600 are considered to have a "Poor" credit rating, and those scores below 500 are considered "Bad."America's Average Credit Score Has Been Improving from 2005-2018

Commitment to fair treatment and responsible lending. Regardless of your credit score, Continental Finance's credit card offerings are backed by a commitment to fair treatment and responsible lending.

Fair treatment means that the application and decision process for your credit card remains transparent so that you won't get surprised by any fine print.

Responsible lending means that the company works with the customer to ensure they can afford to pay off the credit line they've been given.

Credit increases are only given after a cardholder establishes a solid payment track record.

Credit Cards for Consumers with Poor Credit

It is possible to swipe your way to an improved credit score

Generally speaking, lines of credit are issued based on a number of factors, including a person's credit score and income.

Credit card companies would like to know that you can pay at least the minimum on your credit card every month.

So if you've got a blemished credit history, it's likely a traditional consumer credit card company will take a pass when it sees your application.

But that doesn't mean you have to resort to cash-only transactions.

You can start off with a small credit line and work your way up the credit score ladder by making on-time payments and keeping a low balance.

Continental Finance is a company that markets and services consumer credit cards specifically for those who need help rebuilding their credit.

That help comes through secured and unsecured credit cards.

Specifically, its Reflex and Surge credit cards, issued through Celtic Bank, offer consumers small, manageable lines of credit based on gross monthly income.

As cardholders continue to use the card for normal purchases while making on-time payments, their scores will improve.

They then have the option to get higher credit lines with Continental Finance, as well as try again to apply with the larger credit card companies.

Secured and unsecured credit cards can offer a credit score boost

But first, let's explore the differences between secured and unsecured credit cards.

Set your line of credit with a deposit. Secured credit cards are those that require a cash deposit to open. That deposit then becomes your line of credit.

So for example, if you pay $500 to open a secured credit card, you will have a $500 line of credit.

Keep in mind, you will still have a balance to pay.

That original $500 is like a security deposit—and you will get it refunded if and when you close the card.

Improve your score with manageable monthly payments. An unsecured card is one that you do not have to pay a security deposit to use.

Instead, you are given a small credit line, which can increase over time as you continue to pay your monthly payments on time, while avoiding anything that can negatively impact your score.

When you apply for a card with Continental Finance, you will be considered for an unsecured card first, but know that a secured card with an upfront fee for collateral is always an option.

Surge Mastercard from Continental Finance

An alternative option for consumers with poor credit

The Surge MasterCard will keep your budget in line with a high-29.99%-variable-interest rate.

Although with an interest rate that high, you might be afraid to use your card at all!

That's why it's so important to pay off your balance each month.

The good news here is that the more you pay toward your balance each month—and again, hopefully all of it—the more you can improve your creditworthiness.

Get cash with your card. You can get a cash advance with this card at the same rate as purchases.

In short, though—don't do it.

Take time to pay. There is a grace period of up to 25 days to pay off your minimum payment each month.

Keep an eye on the calendar, though—otherwise, you'll get socked with a $38 fee for a late payment.

Leave Surge at home if you're a globetrotter. Yes, you can take your Surge card around the world with you, but we don't advise it.

Each time you swipe your card abroad, you'll get charged an extra 3% foreign transaction fee—that's on top of the APR if you carry a balance.

Granted, a low credit limit will allow for a low balance.

Still, you don't want to be paying more in interest than you are in actual purchases, so avoid unnecessary fees whenever you can.

Our advice? Monitor all your spending and pay your bill in full each month.

Your mission here is to improve your credit score—and hopefully move on to a card with better rates and fewer fees.Credit Card Access has Improved as Rejection Rate has Gone Down (2013-2017)

Reflex Mastercard from Continental Finance

Another option—if you can avoid the fees

The Reflex Mastercard from Continental Finance is another card that can help you get your credit score back on track.

However, it comes with hefty fees that you should know about upfront.

Pay the annual fee. To use the card, you must pay an annual fee of $125 for the first year, then $96 for each succeeding year.

And the maintenance fee. There is a monthly maintenance fee of $10.

Although that fee is waived for the first year, it does mean that you'll be paying an additional $120 each year thereafter to use this card.

Pay on time. You'll want to do this to improve your score—as well as skip the $38 late fee.

Avoid the interest. Remember when we said that it's always better to pay off your balance in full?

Well, not only will you help improve your credit score quickly, but you'll also avoid the 30.49% interest charge.

That's a tough one to swallow for sure.

But here's the upside to this card.

Enjoy cash back. Another thing to think about is the cash back options available with the Reflex.

There are no rewards offered for the Surge, but for the Reflex card, you can get 1.5% cash back for every dollar you spend.

That works out to be about 1.5 cents per dollar.

So for you to get any real money out of the deal, consider it this way: You'll have to spend about $66 in order to rack up $1 in cash back bonuses.

Getting Started with a Reflex or Surge Credit Card

Applying for the Surge or Reflex Mastercards is a fairly easy process—and you can do almost all of it online.

Gather some personal info. You will need to provide the following personal information: full legal name, Social Security number, date of birth, physical home address (no P.O. box), and estimated monthly income.

You can check your application online to see your status.

Wait for the snail mail. When your application is approved, you will receive your card in the mail in about three business days.

Log in to manage your account. You can manage your credit card account completely online.

You can log on to view your transactions as well as pay your bill.

You can also pay for your bill over the phone or by mailing a check.

Your minimum payment will be a percentage of your balance each month, based on your card's terms.

Usually, it's a minimum of $10.

You will have to pay your minimum balance in order to keep your account in good status.

But you'll also get dinged on your credit report, which defeats the purpose of all your hard work.

The features are quite similar for both cards.

A major perk is that Reflex and Surge both report to all three credit bureaus each month, so by using these cards responsibly, you'll be on your way to improving your credit score.

And because these cards come with the Mastercard logo, you can swipe and tap your card wherever Mastercard is accepted.Visa Beats Mastercard in Total Number of Accounts


Got questions about the Surge and Reflex cards from Continental Finance?

We have answers.

  • What can I use my credit card for?

    Skip the cash and use your credit card to pay for anything from everyday items to larger purchases.

  • Are there rewards points or other bonuses?

    None for Surge, but there is a cash back program for the Reflex card.

    For every dollar you spend on Reflex, you'll get 1.5% cash back.

  • Can I use my credit card anywhere?

    You can use your cards anywhere in person or online wherever Mastercard is accepted.

  • Is the credit card good for building credit?

    Yes—you will be given a manageable credit line that can help you build or restore credit.

    As your creditworthiness grows, your limit can be increased.

  • How can I check my credit card balance?

    Log onto Continental Finance's Online Banking website to check your card's balance and transaction history.

  • How do I withdraw money from my credit card?

    Cash can be withdrawn from the card using an ATM.

  • Can I pay for my credit card with a debit card?

    You can make payments over the phone by calling 800-518-6142 using your debit card or your bank account number.

  • Can I use my credit card without the card?

    You need your card to swipe in person, but to order online or over the phone, all you need is your number, expiration date, and security code.

  • How do I add an authorized user to the credit card?

    Call the number on the back of your card.

    Fees will apply; note that you will then be listed as the primary cardholder.

  • Can I upgrade my credit card?

    You can extend your credit line by paying off your balance every month or by paying more toward a security deposit.

  • How soon can I use my credit card once I receive it?

    Activate your card when it arrives in the mail and begin using it right away!

  • How do I contact Continental Finance credit card services?

    To speak with a customer service representative, call 866-449-4514 between 7 am and 10 pm EST Monday–Friday and 9 am–4 pm EST on Saturdays.

  • How do I register my credit card online?

    Have your card handy and register on the Continental Finance customer service site.

  • How often can I get cash back for my credit card?

    Reflex users will get one statement credit (no minimum required) per year on the anniversary of opening the card.

    There are no cash back rewards for Surge.

  • How can I change my information on my credit card?

    Call 866-449-4514 and talk to a representative.

  • How do I report a stolen credit card?

    Call 800-556-5678 for 24/7 customer service.

  • How can I cancel my credit card?

    Call Customer Service at 866-449-4514.

  • Can someone co-sign for my credit card?

    No, but you may add an authorized user.

  • Can I use my card overseas/abroad?

    Yes, but keep in mind there is a foreign transaction fee of 3%.

  • Which credit bureaus does my Continental Finance credit card report to?

    Continental Finance reports to all three bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) each month.

  • What if my card is stolen and used to make purchases?

    Call the 24/7 Customer Service line at 800-556-5678 immediately to open up a case so that you are not responsible for unauthorized purchases.

Call the 24/7 Customer Service line at 800-556-5678 immediately to open up a case so that you are not responsible for unauthorized purchases.

A credit card from Continental Finance can help you reach your credit goals

Better credit doesn't come easy, but it's certainly not impossible.

In fact, there are benefits that come with digging yourself out of a bad or poor credit rut.

One of them is that you will learn how to manage your debt and stay on a budget month to month.

And although you might not yet be able to get a credit card from some of the larger consumer banks, Continental Finance is more than willing to work with you as you rebuild your credit.

Rebuilding your credit is also about rethinking your approach to money.

Paying for things in cash certainly makes it easier to stick to a budget—but we all know that a credit card is more convenient in so many ways.

So be sure to use your credit card powers wisely.

Continental Finance will extend a credit line to you based on your gross monthly income.

A low line of credit will ensure that you can at least make your monthly payment each month.

But we've said it before, and we'll say it again: Pay off the entire balance each month so that you can see your credit score creep up while you keep your debt way down.

Have you ever had a Continental Finance Reflex or Surge Card?

What did you like about it?

What needed improvement?

Any great tips (or nightmares) to share with the rest of us?

Let us know in the comments below!

Leave a Comment

Advertiser Disclosure:

The credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card issuers from which receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site, including the order in which they may appear within listing categories. does not include all credit card offers that might be available to consumers in the marketplace.

Editorial Note:

Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed on this page are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.