Discover it Secured Review 2023: Earn cash back while you build credit

Written by Ben Luthi / January 5, 2023
Reviewed by Glen Luke Flanagan

If you're looking to build credit from scratch or repair a poor credit history, the Discover it Secured Credit Card can not only help you, but will also reward you along the way. Few secured credit cards earn rewards, and fewer provide a welcome bonus, but you get both with this card.

You'll need to put up a security deposit to get approved, which starts at $200, and your credit limit will match your deposit. It’s typical for secured cards to allow your deposit to be refunded if you pay your balance in full and close your account, but Discover offers another route to getting your deposit back. Use your account and other credit responsibly, and Discover may convert your card to an unsecured account and return your deposit in as little as seven months. 

In addition to reporting your balance and payments to the three credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian and TransUnion—Discover offers free access to your FICO Score, so you can track your progress. Try to limit your spending, though, as a high balance on a card with a low limit could negatively impact your credit score. Also, the card's high annual percentage rate (APR) can make for costly interest charges if you don't pay your bill on time and in full every month.

Inside this article

  1. Discover it Secured basics
  2. Discover it Secured rewards
  3. Should you get the Discover it Secured?
  4. Discover it Secured summary
  5. Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Discover it Secured basics

  • Annual fee: $0

  • Welcome bonus: Discover will match all the cash back you earn during your first year with the card.

  • Rewards: Earn 2% cash back on up to $1,000 spent in combined purchases each quarter at gas stations and restaurants. All other purchases will net you 1% back.

  • Regular APR: 27.24% variable.

  • Introductory APR: 10.99% on balance transfers for six months, then 27.24% variable.

  • Balance transfer fee: 3% of the transfer amount during the promotional period, then 5%.

  • Benefits: Free access to your FICO Score and the chance to get your security deposit back without closing your account.

  • Reports to all three credit bureaus? Yes.

  • Pre-approval tool: Yes.

  • Recommended credit score needed: New or rebuilding credit.

Discover it Secured rewards

The Discover it Secured is rare among secured cards in that it offers cash back on every purchase you make. Each quarter, you'll earn 2% cash back on the first $1,000 you spend at gas stations and restaurants combined, and you'll get 1% back on all other purchases.

Additionally, at the end of your first year with the card, Discover will match all the cash back you earn during those initial 12 months. There's no limit to how much you can earn with this match—though, speaking practically, your spending may be limited based on how much of a deposit you can provide and thus how low or high of a credit limit you have to work with.

You can redeem rewards as statement credits, deposits into your bank account, gift card purchases or charitable donations. If you opt for gift cards, Discover advertises an added bonus to your gift card balance with each redemption. You can also redeem your rewards for online shopping via PayPal and Amazon.com.

Discover it Secured rewards potential

Using government data and other publicly available information, Sound Dollar estimates that a household in the U.S. that would be in the market for this card has an annual income of $84,352 and $25,087 in expenses they are likely to be able to charge to a credit card.

If you can max out the bonus rate on restaurant and gas station spending every quarter, and other spending earns 1% back, you can earn as much as $290.87 cash back per year. 

With a low credit limit, however, you may need to make multiple payments throughout the month to avoid maxing out your card too quickly. The Discover it Secured Card’s security deposit can range from $200 to $2,500, and your credit limit will match your deposit amount.

Note that applicants are not guaranteed the ability to get the maximum credit line. If approved, Discover will determine what you’re eligible for based on income and ability to pay.

Discover it Secured APR details 

The card charges a 27.24% variable APR to all those who get approved. This rate is high but not uncommon for secured credit cards. Like similar cards, it also doesn't offer an introductory 0% APR promotion on purchases—but you can get a reduced 10.99% variable APR on balance transfers for six months. 

In general, though, it's best to plan to pay your bill in full every month to avoid interest charges.

Discover it Secured benefits and perks

Secured credit cards don't offer a lot of bells and whistles, but there are some notable features you'll get with the Discover it Secured that aren't standard:

  • FICO Score access: You'll be able to check your FICO Score based on your TransUnion credit report anytime, allowing you to keep track of your progress as you work to build your credit history. You'll also be able to view factors that are influencing your score, so you can address potential issues as they arise.

  • Identity alerts: Discover scans thousands of sites on the dark web every day and will alert you (once you activate) if your Social Security number is found on any of them.

  • Return of deposit: After your first seven months with the card, Discover will start reviewing your account monthly to determine if you're eligible to convert to an unsecured account and get your deposit back. You'll qualify for a refund if you've made your last six consecutive monthly payments on time and all of your credit accounts are in good status (note that this means credit accounts with all institutions, not just Discover accounts). 

Discover it Secured drawbacks

  • Requires a security deposit: While it’s possible to get your deposit back relatively quickly, it can still be challenging to come up with $200 or more in cash that you can't access until you qualify for a refund.

  • Rewards are capped: While 2% cash back on eligible spending is an excellent benefit on a secured credit card, it can still be frustrating to have your bonus rewards capped every quarter.

  • High APR: It's standard for a secured card to charge a high interest rate, but you'll still want to try to avoid carrying a balance from month to month.

Alternate secured credit cards 

Discover it Secured vs. Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card

If you're new to credit, the Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card offers an impressive 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make with no caps on how much you can earn. It also charges no annual fee, the deposit is refundable without account closure—if Capital One decides based on responsible use that you’re eligible to upgrade to an unsecured credit card—and you could get credit line increases without needing an additional security deposit. 

However, the card may not be an option for some people who are rebuilding their credit scores.

Discover it Secured vs. Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

If you're concerned about putting $200 or more toward a security deposit, the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card may offer a solution. Depending on your creditworthiness, the initial deposit for a $200 credit limit can be $49, $99 or $200—the issuer will let you know your minimum deposit if you’re approved for the card. 

You can get your deposit back without closing your account, if Capital One determines you’re eligible for an upgrade to an unsecured card, and you can qualify for a higher credit line with no additional deposit. The card's annual fee is $0. 

This card does not earn rewards.

Discover it Secured vs. Petal 1 Visa Card

If you're looking to build credit while avoiding a security deposit, consider the Petal 1 Visa Card. Depending on your creditworthiness, you may qualify for the regular Petal 1 with no annual fee or the Petal 1 Rise version, which charges a $59 annual fee. You'll earn between 2% and 10% cash back when you shop with select local and national merchants. Note, however, that the card's APR can be upwards of 30% for some users, so it's crucial to avoid carrying a balance.

Should you get the Discover it Secured?

The Discover it Secured can be an excellent choice if you're looking to build or rebuild your credit history and you want to earn rewards on your everyday purchases. The ability to get a refund of your deposit as soon as seven months is also a critical feature—while other secured cards may offer the same benefit, they may not be as clear on when you can qualify for it.

With that said, the card's rewards structure isn't the best available, and if you have a limited credit history, you may even be able to get a credit card that doesn't require a security deposit at all. As a result, it's important to take your time and shop around to ensure you get the best card for your situation and preferences.

Discover it Secured summary

Annual fee$0
Rewards2% cash back on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter at restaurants and gas stations and 1% back on everything else
Welcome bonusDiscover will match all the cash back you earn during your first year with the card
APR27.24% variable
Foreign transaction feeNone
Security deposit$200 to $2,500

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

How can I pay the Discover it Secured Credit Card deposit?

You can make your initial deposit using an electronic funds transfer from your bank account.

Is the Discover it Secured Credit Card a good credit card to build credit?
What credit score do you need to get the Discover it Secured Credit Card?

About the Authors

Ben Luthi

Ben Luthi

Ben has been writing about money since 2013. He's been on staff at NerdWallet as a credit card writer and for Student Loan Hero, where he covered student loans and other personal finance topics. Ben's work has appeared in U.S. News, The New York Times, Experian, FICO, Credit Karma, Bankrate and more

Full bio
Glen Luke Flanagan

Glen Luke Flanagan

Glen Luke Flanagan is a deputy editor on the credit cards team at Sound Dollar. Prior to joining Sound Dollar, he covered credit cards, credit scoring and related topics as a deputy editor at Forbes Advisor and a senior writer at LendingTree. He’s passionate about helping people understand personal finance so they can make the best decisions possible for their wallet.

Full bio

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