The Bottom Line: When you consider the rewards, the lack of an annual fee and the opportunity for an upgrade, this is the best secured credit card we've seen.
Pros & Cons
No annual fee
Reports to the three major credit bureaus
Offers rewards and a sign-up bonus
Chance to upgrade to unsecured account after 8 months
Requires minimum deposit of $200
Discover cards not widely accepted outside the U.S.
Alternate Pick: No credit check
OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
Bad credit won't block your application
This card doesn't run a credit check on applicants, removing a major obstacle to getting approved. Additionally, you don't need a checking account; you can pay your deposit and your monthly bills with a money transfer or money order. One downside: There's an annual fee of $35.Read our review
Compare to Other Cards
25.24% Variable APR
26.99% Variable APR
10.99% on Balance Transfers for 6 months
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
If you have bad credit, there’s no reason you should also have a bad credit card. There are stellar options for secured credit cards out there, including the new Discover it® Secured. It comes with many of the best features of Discover’s non-secured credit cards, including generous rewards, an annual fee of $0, and free access to your FICO score so you can watch your credit score climb as your good habits pay off.
Intrigued? Let’s look at the details.
Discover it® Secured: Benefits and basics
Card type: Secured.
Like most other secured credit cards, the Discover it® Secured requires cardholders to put down a security deposit, which determines the card’s credit limit. Deposits can be as low as $200, which will provide a credit line of $200. The highest possible deposit, and therefore the highest possible credit limit, is $2,500. Applicants should expect to undergo a credit check and should have a steady income.
This card has several features that might leave other secured credit cards scrambling for customers.
It’s rare to find a secured credit card that offers rewards, but the Discover it® Secured is one of the few that does. You’ll earn 2% cash back on up to $1,000 in spending per quarter on gas and restaurant purchases, and an unlimited 1% back on all other purchases. You'll also receive a one-time bonus: Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year. Rewards don’t expire, and there’s no minimum redemption amount. They can be redeemed for cash or Amazon credit at any time.
Credit-building help and a clear path to upgrading
It’s not ideal to tie up hard-earned money in the form of a security deposit on a credit card. People who are building credit for the first time, or rebuilding credit after some negative experiences, will naturally be eager to switch to a regular, unsecured credit card as soon as possible. The Discover it® Secured offers a few things that will help with that process.
The card offers free access to your FICO score, so you can see how you’re doing.
Discover will report your activity on the Discover it® Secured to all three credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. That means responsible use can help you boost your credit score.
After you’ve held the card for eight months, the company will begin automatic monthly reviews to see whether you’re ready to move from the secured card to another Discover credit card.
When you do transition to an unsecured Discover card, you’ll keep the same account. Because opening a new account can lower your credit score in some instances, this is great for people who are excited to be entering good credit territory.
An annual fee of $0 isn’t unheard of among secured credit cards, but it’s definitely not the norm. Many secured cards squeeze vulnerable consumers by tacking on fees.
Discover keeps things affordable for cardholders in other ways, as well.
Your APR won’t skyrocket if you pay late, and you won’t be charged a late fee on your first late payment. While we love this feature, keep in mind that paying on time consistently is one of the most important things you can do to improve your credit score.
You won’t pay a foreign transaction fee. Many other credit card issuers charge foreign transaction fees equal to 3% of every purchase. Keep in mind, though, that Discover is less widely accepted abroad than Visa or MasterCard.
» MORE: Discover introduces secured card
Discover it® Secured: Pitfalls and other possibilities
The minimum deposit is $200
Although it's lower than that of many competitors, the $200 minimum security deposit for the Discover it® Secured is still a barrier for some people. In this regard, the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is a superior card. Not only is the minimum deposit as low as $49, but you can pay in installments until you reach your required amount.
The credit limit is equal to the deposit
Again, the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® has the Discover it® Secured beat. The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® allows some cardholders a credit limit that’s higher than the deposit. With the Discover it® Secured, you can only qualify for a credit limit equal to the amount you’ve provided as a security deposit.
You need a bank account to get this card
Because the security deposit for the Discover it® Secured has to be funded by a checking or savings account, this card is not a viable solution for people who don’t have a traditional bank account. Unbanked consumers may be better off with the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card, even though that card has an annual fee of $35.
The interest could be lower
We've certainly seen higher interest rates for secured credit cards, but the interest on this card is not very attractive: 10.99% on Balance Transfers for 6 months, and then the ongoing APR of 25.24% Variable APR. If you plan to carry a balance, you may be better off with the DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card , which has a much betterAPR. The ongoing APR is 13.75%, Variable — which is even lower than the rates on many unsecured cards.
You can also explore NerdWallet's list of the best credit cards for more information on credit cards for building or rebuilding credit.
Is the Discover it® Secured right for you?
If you’re committed to building or rebuilding credit, a secured card can be very helpful, especially a card like this one that has a smooth process to help you transition to an unsecured card when you’re ready. This card also gets high marks for paying such generous rewards and for keeping its fees so reasonable.
Overall, unless you lack a bank account or can’t pay the $200 minimum deposit, the Discover it® Secured should definitely be on your short list of secured credit cards. For the rewards alone, you really can't top this solid offering from Discover.