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Discover it Secured Credit Card: Credit Builder With Great Cash-Back Rewards

You'll need to secure a deposit to activate this account, but its cash-back rewards rival those of traditional credit cards.

Featuring the best rewards program for secured credit cards, the Discover it® Secured Credit Card* makes a strong case for the best overall secured credit card available.

Like other secured credit cards, the Discover it® Secured Credit Card is designed for users with no credit history or a bad credit rating. Secured cards let consumers build or rebuild their credit for the cost of a deposit that is proportional to the available credit line (usually equal to it). Most secured credit cards don't charge annual fees, but they also lack perks like sign-up bonuses or rewards back on spending.

The Discover it® Secured Credit Card flips that thinking on its head with the best secured reward program around and a great first-year welcome bonus. It may have a smaller credit limit range, but it offers significant rewards back while letting users boost their credit scores, with responsible use. 

The Discover it® Secured Credit Card can act as a gateway to traditional cards for first-time credit card users. Discover periodically reviews cardholder accounts starting at 7 months and promotes eligible consumers with good payment histories to unsecured credit cards. Anyone with poor credit or no credit at all, including students and young adults, should take a good look at the Discover it® Secured Credit Card.

In this article

Discover it® Secured Credit Card

8/10 CNET Rating
Card Highlights
Intro OfferIntro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year! There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
APR26.74% Variable
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Recommended Credit New/Rebuilding Credit
Reward Rates
  • Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter.
  • Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
Annual Fee$0
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APR10.99% for 6 months
Balance Transfer APR26.74% Variable
Balance Transfer Fee 3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*
Late Payment Fee None the first time you pay late. After that, up to $41.
Foreign Transaction Fees None
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter.
  • Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

Read more: Best Secured Credit Cards

Deposit limits and requirements

Discover has a credit limit range of $200 to $2,500, with a credit limit that is always directly proportional to the deposit amount. While the range is on the low end of the spectrum, it may be a benefit for anyone looking to reduce the temptation of overspending with their credit card. 

Your credit limit is determined by a combination of the credit limit range, your income and your ability to pay, which is determined by running a hard check on your credit. Not all secured card companies look at your credit score, but Discover does. However, the absence of a credit history is not a dealbreaker if you have some recorded income and cash for a deposit. A low credit score typically won't exclude you either, though a lower credit score is likely to reduce your permitted credit limit. If you want to check the likelihood of being accepted without dinging your credit, preapproval is available.

Rewards program and welcome bonus

This card's rewards program is reminiscent of others in Discover's portfolio. You earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants, on up to $1,000 in combined expenditure per quarter, then 1%. You'll also earn 1% on all other purchases with no limit. But the welcome bonus, the Unlimited Cashback Match program, really boosts the value proposition. With this program, Discover will match all your cash back earned at the end of your first year as an account holder. When Discover disburses the match at your first account anniversary, you'll have effectively doubled all of your earnings. But keep in mind, these rewards are only worthwhile if you're paying your bill in full every month to avoid interest charges.

Even when compared to a traditional credit card, these are pretty decent rewards rates. The only other secured card on our radar that has a rewards program, the FirstTech Federal Credit Union Platinum Secured Mastercard®*, offers just 1 point (equivalent to $0.01 when redeemed for a statement credit) per dollar spent. 

Building credit with this card

Oftentimes, secured credit cards are meant to get the cardholder started in the right direction with building credit. Many issuers will automatically review your credit limit and deposit requirements at certain checkpoints, and some offer other benefits to help you track and improve your credit.

For the Discover it Secured Credit Card, beginning at seven months of being a cardholder, Discover will automatically review your account standing to determine if you qualify for a promotion to a traditional card, at which point Discover will issue you a refund of your security deposit. As another perk, Discover will populate your statement with your FICO score for free to help you learn how your actions affect your credit.

Comparable cards

Chime Credit Builder Visa Credit Card
The Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card is arguably the other best secured credit card on the market. Instead of focusing on rewards, however, this card focuses on ease of access. If you'd rather your credit not be checked, or need to ease into credit-building without the threat of racking up interest, this is hands-down the best choice for you.

There is no credit check with this card -- your credit limit is determined by your deposit amount, period. And there are no minimum or maximum thresholds for your credit limit. There's no interest either, because payments come directly out of your deposit each month. To re-up your credit limit, simply add more to your deposit. It functions more like a debit card, but this card still reports to the credit bureaus to help you rebuild.

FirstTech Federal Credit Union Platinum Secured Mastercard®
FirstTech's Secured Mastercard is another secured credit card that unconventionally offers a rewards program. However, the program is much more basic than that of the Discover it Secured Credit Card, and there is no welcome bonus. You simply earn 1 point per dollar spent on all purchases, with a $0.01 redemption value. Discover's clearly got the edge, but this is a worthy alternative if the Discover it Secured Credit Card is not the right choice for you. 

There is no balance transfer fee with this card, which would be noteworthy if it wasn't a secured card. If you have the cash to cover the deposit on the secured card, you're better off using that to pay off the balance you're considering transferring.

Discover it® chrome
If you were to choose a congruent traditional card from Discover's lineup, it would be the Discover it® chrome*. It offers the exact same rewards and welcome offer as the Discover it Secured Credit Card, but it also offers an introductory 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months (15.74% to 26.74% variable APR thereafter) in exchange for your minimally "good" credit (typically a FICO score of 670 or above). However, if you have a good credit score, you may want to shop around for other cash-back credit cards depending on your spending habits.

Alternatively, the Discover it® Student chrome* offers the same rewards and welcome bonus -- though the 0% introductory APR offer is only for six months on purchases (16.74% to 25.74% variable APR thereafter) -- but you do not need to have credit previously established to be approved, and you must be enrolled in a qualifying educational institution.


What is a secured credit card?

This type of credit card usually requires an upfront deposit equal to the credit limit. So, for a card with a credit limit of $500, you'd need to deposit $500. Secured credit cards are still subject to late and rejected payment fees and generate interest on outstanding balances. As such, a secured credit card presents lower risk to card issuers and allows them to extend lines of credit to borrowers who don't have good credit or meet the minimum credit score threshold.

How is my credit score calculated?

Credit scores are calculated by looking at a variety of factors related to your personal credit, including length of credit history, payment history, amounts owed, new credit and credit mix. The exact weight of each factor depends on the score model (FICO, VantageScore, or other) and your own credit history. If, for example, you have no credit history, the other factors may be weighted more heavily. (Check out this article for more information on credit scores.) 

How long does it take to improve my credit score?

After opening a secured credit card account, it will take around one to two months for the secured credit card issuer to report it to a major credit bureau, at which point it will begin impacting your credit report and your credit score. Then it takes several additional months before the account's activity is substantial enough to make a difference. If you maintain a low or $0 balance and manage the rest of your finances well, you could raise your score several hundred points in a year or two, but it'll depend on your particular situation. If you have a longer credit history with a number of issues, it will take longer. If you have a shorter history, each month's activity will play a much larger role. 

Our approach

We review the cards that are in the highest demand and offer the best benefits. We scour the fine print so there aren't any surprises when you open an account. We find the key factors that make a card stand out and compare them to other top cards. That way, readers can opt for a different card with similar features if our pick isn't right for them. Our reviews are regularly checked and updated to incorporate new recommendations, as well as to reflect changes in offers and the market. 

*All information about the Discover it Secured Credit Card, FirstTech Federal Credit Union Platinum Secured Mastercard, Discover it chrome and Discover it Student chrome has been collected independently by CNET and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

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