Discover says it will help consumers seeking to establish or rebuild a credit score by expanding the availability of its Discover It Secured Credit Card, which offers the cash-back rewards and security measures of its mainstream cards.
Discover expects its secured card to more easily appeal to the 19 million people considered "unscorable" because of an inadequate credit history, rather than only those who typically found out about or received the card as a counter offer when applying online after being rejected for a traditional credit card, said Jerry Young, director of acquisition at Discover.
"Most other cards in this space are watered-down, not offering rewards and charging fees," Young said. As of Jan. 24, any consumer will be able to apply for the secured card, not just those who had been rejected in a previous offer.
Those applying for the card provide Discover with a security deposit, starting at a minimum of $200 to a maximum of $2,500, to establish that same amount as the monthly credit line on the card. After one year of using the card, Discover will automatically review the account to determine if it can return the security deposit to the cardholder and increase the account's credit line, Young said.
"It's an automatic review, so the cardholder doesn't have to ask for anything," Young said. "We want to do this to build that long-term loyalty and engagement."
Ideally, as the cardholders' credit improves, they would seek to deepen their relationship with Discover rather than apply for a competitor's mainstream card.
"We feel this is a great product for rebuilding credit history," Young said. "It's for those with no credit, or who are just using debit cards, or someone with a little financial trouble in the past."
Discover is offering 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants and 1% cashback on all other purchases, along with no annual fee, no late fee on a first payment and no increase to the annual percentage rate for late payments. The consumer could exceed the card's monthly spending limit by making additional payments to replenish the amount of available credit, Young said.
The new card includes the Freeze It security feature in which a cardholder can use a mobile device to lock use of the card if it is temporarily misplaced or feared stolen.
While in limited use in the past, 99% of Discover It Secured Card holders who did not previously have a FICO score, earned one within just nine months, Young added.
The Discover It Secured Credit Card is part of the Riverwoods, Ill.-based card brand's It card line, which includes the It Miles travel rewards card it has recently highlighted on TV commercials.