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These days, everyone is interested in your credit: landlords, potential employers, insurers, even cable and telephone companies. So what do you do if you’re just starting your credit journey or have made an unfortunate mistake — because we’re human, and humans err — that negatively impacted your score?
Whatever your situation is, there are many solutions available to help you get started with credit or rebuild your credit. For example, the Self – Credit Builder Account with Secured Visa® Credit Card and Discover it® Secured Credit Card are two secured credit cards that can help you to build your credit.
However, these cards are very different in how they work. To begin with, Discover it Secured doesn’t have an annual fee, while using the Self Visa (which is a bit more than just a card) will definitely cost you, especially in the long run. Still, depending on your personal circumstances, this can be money well spent.
Before we dive in, keep in mind that both the Self Visa and Discover it Secured have sky-high interest rates — the Self Visa has a 26.99 percent variable APR and the Discover it Secured has a 26.74 percent variable APR. So if you expect to carry your balance from month to month, you should try to find a cheaper solution.
|Cards||Self Credit Builder Account with Secured Visa||Discover it Secured Credit Card|
|Welcome bonus||N/A||Discover will match the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year|
|Intro APR||N/A||10.99% intro APR for 6 months on balance transfers, then a variable APR of 27.24%|
Self Visa vs. Discover it Secured highlights
Welcome bonus winner: Discover it Secured
The Self Visa doesn’t include a welcome offer, so the Discover it Secured wins in this category. While it’s not an upfront bonus, Discover will match all of the cash back you earn at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn $100 in the first 12 months of card membership, you’ll get another $100 from Discover at the end of the year, for a total of $200 in cash back.
Rewards rate winner: Discover it Secured
The Discover it Secured offers 2 percent cash back at gas stations and restaurants (on up to $1,000 in combined purchases per quarter, then 1 percent back) and 1 percent back on all other purchases. In comparison, the Self Visa doesn’t offer a cash back program.
Annual fee winner: Discover it Secured
The Discover it Secured has no annual fee while the Self Visa has a $25 annual fee.
Foreign transaction fee winner: Discover it Secured
Technically speaking, neither card charges a foreign transaction fee, but the Self Visa can’t be used outside of the U.S. anyway. Since the Discover it Secured can be used overseas, it wins in this category. However, note that Discover acceptance outside of the U.S. can be more limited than Visa or Mastercard, depending on where you’re traveling.
Which card earns the most?
The Discover it Secured has a cash back program while the Self Visa doesn’t, so the Discover it Secured will inevitably earn more.
Self Visa vs. Discover it Secured spending example
Maximizing your 2 percent cash back at gas stations and restaurants each quarter is not that hard, if you remember that many gas stations also sell food and household items, and that takeout and food delivery qualify too. So if you can spend $1,000 per quarter in these two categories, you’ll pocket $80 a year in cash back. Discover will match that cash back at the end of the first year, so you’ll actually get $160.
Also, keep in mind the unlimited 1 percent cash back on all purchases will be matched too, so that’ll be like earning 2 percent cash back on all non-bonus purchases for the first year. If you spend $1,000 a month on 1 percent categories — in addition to maximizing your 2 percent bonus categories — you’ll earn $120 in cash back, which will be $240 at the end of the year with Discover’s Cashback Match. Then, add your $160 in cash back and your $240 in cash back, and you’ll get $400 in total cash back at the end of the first year, which is not bad at all.
Why should you get the Self Visa?
The main appeal of the Self Visa is that it combines an installment loan with a revolving credit card account and reports your progress to all three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Credit scoring formulas, FICO and VantageScore love to see that you can responsibly handle both types of accounts. This healthy mix of an installment loan and a revolving account is a minor factor, but it can help you boost your FICO score. In other words, if you need all the help in the world to get your credit score up a little bit faster, the Self Visa can be invaluable and well worth the extra fees.
Self Visa’s certificate of deposit* (CD) earns interest
While this is hardly a wow factor, especially since Self charges interest for your credit builder loan (which, unlike credit card interest, you can’t avoid), earning something is better than earning nothing.
Basic Visa benefits
The Self Visa offers only basic Visa benefits, which include lost or stolen card reporting, a cardholder inquiry service, emergency card replacement and cash disbursement, zero liability for unauthorized purchases, pay-per-use roadside dispatch and ID Navigator Powered by NortonLifeLock.
Since the Self Visa doesn’t have a rewards program, there are no redemption options.
Recommended credit score
No credit history is required to apply for the Self Visa.
Why should you get the Discover it Secured?
As mentioned, credit mix is only a minor factor in the credit score formulas. So if you’re in no particular hurry, using the Discover it Secured will save you quite a bit of money compared to the Self Visa. You’ll also earn cash back on all purchases. In addition, you might qualify for an unsecured card with Discover after seven months of timely payments. In that case, your cash deposit will be returned.
Additional Discover it Secured benefits include access to your FICO credit score and late payment forgiveness on your first late payment (then up to $41). Discover will also monitor your Experian credit report and alert you about any changes. Plus, it will monitor thousands of Dark Web sites and let you know if it finds your Social Security number. Discover will also scan 10 select people search sites for your personal information and submit opt-out requests on your behalf.
The easiest way to redeem cash back is to apply it toward your credit card bill as a statement credit. However, there are other redemption options as well. You can deposit your cash back to your banking account, use it on Amazon or with PayPal, redeem it for gift cards or make a charitable donation. Whatever you do, know that your Discover cash back never expires.
Recommended credit score
No credit history is required to apply for the Discover it Secured credit card.
The bottom line
While the Self Credit Builder Account with Secured Visa and the Discover it Secured Credit Card can serve as excellent tools for consumers trying to build or rebuild their credit, the Discover it Secured has three major advantages over its competitor: It doesn’t have an annual fee, it has a solid cash back program and it offers valuable protective benefits. That said, the Self Visa can give you an edge if you need to speed things up since the Self Visa offers two products in one — an installment loan and a revolving credit card account. That healthy mix of accounts can play a role in boosting your score.
In other words, if you’re in no particular hurry and you don’t mind depositing at least $200 as collateral, take a closer look at the Discover it Secured. If your priority is to get as much help as you can to speed up your credit recovery, look into the Self Visa.
However, keep in mind that every credit consumer and their circumstances are different, so no one can say for sure that one product will help you more than another. Of course, there are more credit-building cards available, so make sure to take a look at other top secured cards or cards for bad credit before making a decision.