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This is a review of one of the best secured credit cards on the market, the Discover it Secured Credit Card.
Secured cards require a security deposit when you’re approved for the account. They’re meant for people with limited or bad credit, meaning a FICO® Credit Score of around 660 or below. You’ll need to make a deposit to get this card, but there is no annual fee after that.
This card is designed to help you improve or rebuild your credit, and it reports to all three of the major credit bureaus. So as long as you use it responsibly, you’ll be adding more positive activity to your credit reports.
The Discover it Secured is one of the better offers because it provides a lot of cash back compared to other secured cards. That’s especially true because Discover will double what you earn in your first year. You’ll also get a number of handy benefits from Discover, including the ability to check one of your FICO credit scores.
Is this card right to help you improve your credit? Read our comprehensive review to find out.
Our Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
We gave the Discover it Secured 5 out of 5 Stars because it has favorable terms and provides a surprising amount of cash back. When it comes to cards for people with poor credit, this is a rare find.
With some other secured cards, you’ll be lucky to get 1% cash back while paying an annual fee. But with this card, you get much more than that for no annual fee.
Not only do you get 2% back on gas and at restaurants, all the cash back you earn in your first year will be doubled. That’s a great feature to find on any card, but it’s especially valuable on a secured card.
There’s also a decent set of extra shopping and travel protections, the same benefits that come with all Discover cards. You can monitor your FICO Score 8 at any time you’d like, based on your TransUnion credit report, and get tips for improving your credit. This is a great service for people who are just learning about credit or trying to rebuild a poor credit history.
Instead of dealing with penalties like most secured cards, this card actually provides quite a few rewards and benefits. All for free, as long as you pay your balance in full and avoid incurring interest. These features, along with the high quality customer service provided by Discover, make this a great choice for building up your credit.
Insider Advice: Using This Card as Part of Your Credit Card Strategy
- Use this card responsibly to add positive activity to your credit reports. Don’t charge more than you can pay for, pay your bills on time, and don’t go over your credit limit. We recommend you always pay off your balance in full, to avoid interest and improve your credit as quickly as possible.
- The FICO Credit Scorecard can help you get a good understanding of your credit, and monitor it as it changes over time. Discover will provide specific tips to help you improve based on your account activity, so read through them carefully.
- The more you can put down for the security deposit, the larger your credit limit will be. A larger credit line is better for your credit. It will also make spending easier because you won’t have to worry as much about going over the limit.
- Discover will review your account every eight months. If you’ve been managing your credit responsibly, they will consider returning your deposit and letting you continue to use the card. They will check all of your credit accounts, not just this card.
- Use this card to earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants, unless you can earn more with a different card. This is a great deal compared to most secured credit cards.
- Redeem your cash back for gift cards whenever possible because you’ll get at least $5 added to the redemption. Or, redeem it for statement credits or as direct deposits.
- Avoid the balance transfer offer with this card, of 10.99% APR for 6 months. You could use this to transfer a balance away from an account with a higher balance if necessary. But it would be better to use a different balance transfer card, offering 0% APR for a longer period.
|Introductory Bonus Offer|
The cash back you earn won’t expire, and you can earn an unlimited amount.
The fact that Discover will double what you earn is a great deal, meaning you’ll get 4% cash back at restaurants and on gas, and 2% cash back on all other purchases for that first year. The amount of cash back you can earn makes this one of the most rewarding secured credit cards available. Your bonus cash back will be awarded after the end of your first year with the card.
These are some of the better rewards you’ll find on any secured credit card. To see some other options without rewards, check out some alternative cards below. Or take a look at the Deserve Pro, an unsecured card designed for people with poor credit that offers rewards.
Discover will always provide at least $1 for every $1 in cash back that you’ve earned, no matter how you redeem your rewards. Other card issuers have some options that are less rewarding than others, so this is a nice feature.
You’ll have five different options for redeeming your cash back:
- As a statement credit to reduce your balance
- Directly into a bank account of your choice
- For gift cards
- As a charitable donation
- Pay with rewards at select retailers, like Amazon.com
We recommend always using one of the first 4 options above, and avoiding number 5. The gift card option will offer a bonus on your redemptions, so use it first whenever possible.
Statement Credits and Bank Account Deposits
Statement credits and direct deposits are both easy ways to redeem your cash back. A statement credit will lower your card’s account balance, while a direct deposit will be sent to your bank account.
Whenever you redeem for gift cards you’ll get some extra value added to the redemption. This makes it the best redemption option for this card, unlike most other cards.
Each gift card redemption will get at least $5 added for free, and more in some cases. There are many categories of retailers available, so you should often be able to find one you can use.
Some examples include:
|Merchant||Cash Back Redeemed||Gift Card Value|
|American Eagle Outfitters||$40||$50|
|Barnes & Noble||$45||$50|
Gift cards are available in both digital and physical form. Physical gift cards will take up to 4 weeks to arrive by mail.
You can donate your cash back to a good cause if you so choose. Discover provides an easy way to make a direct donation. You can send your rewards to any of the following organizations:
|ASPCA||Children’s Miracle Network||Make-A-Wish Foundation®|
|American Cancer Society||Junior Achievement||Operation Homefront|
|American Red Cross||Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation||World Wildlife Fund|
Pay with Rewards
You can link your Discover account with a few participating merchants, including Amazon.com. This will let you pay for purchases through them directly with your cash back rewards.
We do not recommend this method because when you pay with rewards you won’t earn any cash back. If you’re paying with rewards at Amazon.com you could be missing out on 5% cash back with the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card (Review), for example. So, we suggest you always pay with your card to earn cash back, and then redeem your rewards through a different method.
You’ll get a great set of extra benefits and features with this card, which is good even when compared to many non-secured cards. All Discover cards get the same set of benefits.
FICO® Credit Scorecard
Discover’s FICO® Credit Scorecard provides access to one of your free FICO credit scores online, along with alerts if it changes. Discover will use the FICO 8 Credit Score from your TransUnion credit report. This service is not limited to cardholders; anyone can make use of it.
Many issuers today will offer free access to one of your FICO credit scores, but if you don’t have another way to check your TransUnion score this card is a good option for that. Discover also includes quite a bit of advice and information about credit scores, breaking your score down by category and providing specific tips for improving it.
If you’d like a way to check out your actual TransUnion credit report for free, whenever you want, take a look at the Capital One Secured Mastercard. Capital One provides this very option, along with access to your VantageScore 3.0 based on your TransUnion credit report. Anyone can access this service, it’s not limited to cardholders.
Cash at Checkout
When shopping at participating locations, you can get cash back immediately by charging an additional amount over your purchase. There is no extra fee from Discover and this will be counted as part of your purchase, rather than as a cash advance.
You can get a maximum of $120 every 24 hours in this way, but individual stores will have their own cash back limits and in some cases they will charge a fee. Some examples are below.
Take note that you will not earn cash back rewards on any cash you get at checkout.
This is a great feature because it provides a way to get cash directly through your credit card without taking out a cash advance, which is pretty amazing if you’re familiar with the high interest rates that always accompany cash advances. Most credit card issuers other than Discover do not provide this option.
There are a few dozen participating stores, but they include:
|ACME||Copps||Cub Foods||Dollar General||Fry’s Food Stores||Glen’s Markets|
|Kroger||Owen’s||Quality Food Centers||Rosauers||Super One Foods||Turkey Hill|
Although Safeway is listed as a participating merchant on Discover’s site, we were informed by Safeway that they no longer offer this cash at checkout service.
Here are some current cash back limits and fees:
|Retailer||Cash Back Limit||Fee|
|Dillons||$100 per purchase||$3 for any amount over $100|
|Dollar General||$40 per purchase||$1.50|
|Kroger||$100 per purchase||$3 for any amount over $100|
|Meijer||$50 per person, per day||None|
|Sam’s Club||$100 per purchase||None|
|Walmart||$100 per purchase||None|
Refer a Friend for a Statement Credit Bonus
As a cardholder, you can earn a statement credit bonus for referring friends to apply for Discover credit cards. You must send them the referral link you get from Discover, and they must use that link to apply.
If your friend is approved you will earn a $50 statement credit bonus. If your friend makes his first purchase within 3 months of opening the account, he will earn a $50 statement credit bonus too.
You can refer a maximum of 10 friends per year, and your account must not be late on payments or over the credit limit to qualify for this benefit.
This is a nice feature that can put some extra cash in your wallet. Some other credit card issuers, like American Express, may offer this as well.
The Discover it Secured comes with a few benefits that aren’t listed here, and occasionally the offers will change. There are also important account management and security benefits, like fraud protection, free Social Security Number alerts, and the ability to quickly freeze your account to prevent new purchases.
Read more about the benefits, and check the Guide to Benefits that comes with the card to learn what you have access to.
|Discover it for Students Card Support||1-800-347-3085|
|U.S. General Card Support||1-800-347-2683|
|Outside U.S. General Card Support||1-801-902-3100|
Discover’s customer support representatives have always answered the phone in a friendly tone. They’ve been eager to help, and whenever we call we can usually get a speedy response to our questions.
Customer service is important for credit cards because they’re powerful financial tools that can have a major effect on your life. So if you need help, it’s good to know that someone will be there to provide some answers. Discover has always won or come in second in J.D. Power’s annual 2017 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study. If you have an issue with your card, just give them a call and you’ll find some quality assistance.
We called to ask Discover a few things about the security deposit and application process. We were told that it requires a bank account with a routing number to fund. That is the only method accepted.
Discover’s reps were friendly and responsive, without being pushy about sales. They even went beyond our questions to make sure we were fully informed about the security deposit. Overall, another great customer support experience.
|Support Page||Discover Card Help Center|
Discover’s website is fairly simple to navigate. This is true for most of the major card issuers, and Discover is no different. The basic reward, benefit, and interest rate information is pretty easy to find.
You can get in touch with them by live online chat, though this is limited to Discover customers and account holders only. They also have a phone line and physical mailing address.
Discover has a dedicated Help Center where you can find:
- contact details
- account management details and links
- statement and payment info
- card reward info
- card benefit info
- security and fraud info
The Costs & Fees
|Intro APR for Balance Transfers||Regular Purchase and Balance Transfer APR||Cash Advance APR||Minimum Credit Limit||Maximum Credit Limit|
|10.99% Variable for 6 months||25.24% Variable||27.24% Variable||$200||$2,500|
|Annual Fee||Foreign Transaction Fee||Balance Transfer Fee||Cash Advance Fee|
|$0||None||3%||5%, $10 minimum|
|Penalty APR||Late Fee||Returned Payment Fee|
|None||$0 the first time; up to $37 after that||Up to $37|
This is a secured credit card, which means you’re going to need to put down a refundable security deposit when you’re approved. Your credit limit will be equal to the amount of your deposit.
You’ll receive your security deposit back when or if you close out the card. Discover will also check your account and credit reports every 8 months for responsible credit behavior. If they like what they see, they may refund your security deposit. They’ll also graduate your account to the Discover it Chrome (Review), an unsecured version of this card.
A minimum deposit of $200 is required. Your maximum credit limit will be determined by your credit history, along with your income and ability to pay. The maximum credit limit possible is $2,500.
There’s no annual fee to pay, just the security deposit. You’ll get a 6-month balance transfer offer with this card, but we don’t recommend using this card for balance transfers. Check out our picks for the best balance transfer credit cards if you’re looking to move a balance away from an account with high interest.
This card is pretty forgiving — there’s no penalty APR for paying late, and no fee for the first late payment. These are surprisingly good features to find on a secured card.
The Bottom Line
The Discover it Secured Credit Card is one of the best secured cards available today. While most secured cards tend to come with penalties for having poor credit, this card actually has a number of benefits with no real penalties.
The cash back and benefits you’ll have are actually very good, even compared to many non-secured cards. The fact that Discover will double the cash back you earn after a year really puts this card over the top when it comes to the rewards. And the benefits cover a wide range of shopping and travel protections.
The regular purchase APR may seem high, but this is expected for secured credit cards. And, you can avoid paying interest if you simply pay off your entire balance every month by the due date. So the interest rate shouldn’t worry you too much.
This is one of the best secured cards available, but there are many other options out there. Check out some alternatives to the Discover it Secured below.
How to Apply for the Discover it Secured Card
You can apply for this card by clicking the Apply Now button below. Discover will check your credit reports from the major bureaus, along with other financial information.
You’ll need to provide your bank account number and your bank’s routing number to finish the application. If approved, you’ll need to pay the required security deposit. If you don’t have a bank account, take a look at the OpenSky Secured Visa below.
Alternatives to the Discover it Secured Card
- Capital One® Secured Mastercard® (Review): No annual fee, no rewards, access a higher credit line by paying on time
- DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Card (Review): No annual fee, no rewards, low interest rates
- OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card: No annual fee, no rewards, no credit check or bank account required
- First Progress Platinum Elite, Select, and Prestige Mastercard® Secured Cards (Review): Various annual fees, no rewards, no credit history or minimum score required
- Deserve Pro, Edu, and Classic Credit Cards: Unsecured, cash back rewards, takes into account more factors when checking for approval
This card requires an initial security deposit of $49, $99, or $200. The amount you’re required to pay will be based on your creditworthiness. This will fund your credit limit. And you’ll need a bank account to make this deposit.
No matter how much you’re required to deposit, your starting credit line will be $200. This is fairly unique among secured cards, because usually your credit line will be equal to your security deposit. You can also pay more than that to access a higher credit limit, up to $1,000.
If you pay your first 5 payments on time with the Capital One card, you’ll be granted a higher credit line. You won’t need to make any extra deposit for this. This is a great feature for secured cards, which tend to have very low credit limits.
You’ll get an APR of 26.99% (Variable) with the Capital One Secured Mastercard for purchases and balance transfers. That’s pretty similar to the 25.24% Variable you’ll get with the Discover it Secured. There is no intro balance transfer offer with the Capital One card, but secured cards like these aren’t meant for balance transfers anyway.
Anyone is able to access Capital One’s free CreditWise® service, whether he or she is a cardholder or not. CreditWise provides a way to monitor your credit along with helpful tips, a valuable tool for anyone trying to build or rebuild a credit history.
This service will show your VantageScore 3.0, based on your TransUnion credit report. It also provides access to your actual TransUnion credit report, and alerts you if there are any changes. The ability to actually check and monitor one of your credit reports is something that most card issuers don’t offer.
The Capital One and Discover cards have pretty much the same extra benefits. Mostly, they consist of basic shopping and travel protections. These include an Extended Warranty, Price Protection, Auto Rental Insurance, and others.
The main difference between these cards is the reward structure. You’ll earn cash back on purchases with the Discover it Secured, but the Capital One Secured Mastercard has no rewards. So the Discover card is the more valuable option, but the Capital One card can still be a good way to improve your credit.
The most notable features of this card are the terms, which are much better than most secured card. The APR is very low at just 13.75% Variable. You’ll get this same rate for purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances. This is handy if you ever need to carry a balance, but we recommend that you always pay off your account in full. There are no fees for balance transfers or cash advances.
The DCU card has some basic extra benefits, like an Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver and Travel Insurance Coverage. However, one thing it seems to lack is the ability to monitor your credit score. This is a very useful feature to have on secured cards, which are meant to help people build their credit. The DCU card won’t help you do that.
Discover’s FICO Credit Scorecard is available to anyone, on the other hand, and provides specific advice to help you improve. So if you have the DCU card you can still monitor your credit through Discover.
This is a very simple card, without any bells and whistles. But for people with poor or no credit, it can be a good way to establish a positive credit history. You’ll need to open a bank account with DCU when you’re approved, but this can be done with as little as $5. If you can’t get the Discover it Secured, DCU provides another decent option.
The OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card has an annual fee of $35 and no rewards. But if you pay that fee you’ll get a couple of features that separate the OpenSky card from other secured credit cards.
Unlike the other cards on this list, this card doesn’t usually require a credit check when you apply. That means pretty much everyone will be approved. Nearly every credit card requires a credit check, so this is a pretty important difference. But in some cases they may need to do credit check.
In addition, you can fund the security deposit for this card by a variety of methods. You can use a debit card, a wire transfer from a bank account, a Western Union® transfer, or mail a check or money order. Most other secured cards require a bank account, including the Discover it Secured. Credit lines are available from $200 to $3,000.
The OpenSky card has a purchase APR of 13.75% Variable, which is pretty good relative to most secured cards. No interest will be charged on purchases during your first billing cycle, giving you a bit of time to pay off some expenses. But a minimum payment will still be required. Balance transfers are not permitted with this card.
So when it comes to being approved, the OpenSky card really is about as open as the sky. With no credit check required and no bank account needed for the deposit, it’s probably one of the most accessible cards on the market. It has no rewards and the extra benefits are very simple. But if you don’t have a bank account or can’t pass a credit check, it might be your only option to establish a positive credit history.
First Progress offers three secured credit cards. If you qualify for any one of them, you’d also qualify for the other two.
|Card||Annual Fee||Purchase APR||Cash Advance APR|
|First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card (Review)||$29||20.74% Variable||25.74% Variable|
|First Progress Platinum Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card (Review)||$39||14.74% Variable||20.74% Variable|
|First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card (Review)||$49||10.74% Variable||19.74% Variable|
These cards are all basically the same, except for the differences mentioned above. As you can see, if you’re willing to pay a higher annual fee, you’ll get lower interest rates. There are no rewards, and balance transfers are not available with these cards.
Although you can pay more to get lower rates, if you get a First Progress card we recommend you go for the lowest annual fee. Just pay off your purchases in full every billing period and the interest rate won’t affect you.
The First Progress cards require a refundable security deposit of between $200 and $2,000. The maximum amount you can deposit will be determined by your creditworthiness.
These cards are accessible to people with bad or no credit because they don’t require a credit history or minimum credit score. But they will check some of your financial information. The Discover it Secured card checks your credit history along with other information.
First Progress provides these cards to people who want to build credit but can’t be approved for more valuable cards. Use one of them responsibly and you’ll add some positive activity to your credit reports. Keep it up for long enough and, all other things being equal, eventually you’ll be able to qualify for cards with nice rewards and benefits.
If you can’t get the Discover card, it may even be a good strategy to use one of these First Progress cards for a while to build up some positive history. Then, when you’ve made some progress, eventually try applying again for the Discover it Secured.
The Deserve credit cards are not secured cards, so they don’t require a security deposit. But the Classic and Edu cards are designed for people with limited or poor credit (the Pro card is made for people with better credit).
Instead of just looking at your credit history and financial information, like most cards, these cards also check some other factors. When you apply, they’ll take into consideration your:
- future employability
- earnings potential
So you’ll have a better chance of being approved with these cards if you can show that you have some positive information in these categories.
There are three Deserve cards:
|Card||Annual Fee||Purchase APR||Maximum Credit Limit||Cash Back Rewards|
|Deserve Classic Mastercard (Review)||$0||24.99% Variable||$1,500||No|
|Deserve Edu Mastercard (Review)||$0||20.74% Variable||$5,000||Yes|
|Deserve Pro Mastercard (Review)||$0||17.99%–24.99% Variable||$10,000||Yes|
The Deserve Classic is meant for anyone with limited or no traditional credit history. With no annual fee, no rewards, and a small credit limit, its only purpose is to help you build up your credit.
The Deserve Edu is for helping students establish a credit history. This card is a great pick for international students because it doesn’t require an SSN to apply for. In addition to what’s above, it also provides:
- 1% cash back on all purchases
- 1 free year of Amazon Prime Student
So this card is relatively easy to get, it provides a bit of cash back, and you’ll get a year of Amazon Prime Student. This last feature can help save a lot of money on shipping in that year, if you tend to buy from Amazon often.
The Deserve Pro is meant for people with a bit of an established credit history. If your credit is fair or average you may be able to qualify for this card.
You’ll get some decent rewards with the Deserve Pro:
- 3% cash back on travel and entertainment
- 2% cash back at restaurants (excluding bars)
- 1% cash back on all other purchases
This is one of the more rewarding cards that you can get with limited or poor credit. Besides just improving your credit scores, you’ll be able to earn some cash back too. And with no annual fee, those rewards will be all profit as long as you avoid incurring interest.
The 2% back for restaurants is just like the Discover it Secured, though it lacks the rewards for gas. But it does have those additional 3% categories which the Discover card doesn’t have.
The Deserve cards are not a bad option if you’re looking for ways to build credit. And that’s especially true if you don’t want to put down a security deposit. However, they don’t provide a way to monitor your credit. If you’re interested in a Deserve card you can still keep track of your credit through Discover’s free FICO Credit Scorecard, which anyone can use.
Do you use this card? How do you like it? Leave your own review of the Discover it Secured Credit Card, we’d love to hear from you!
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