What are Instant Approval Credit Cards? Is an Instant Decision a Reality?

When applying for a credit card, you often expect to get an approval decision in between 60 seconds and a couple of minutes.  However, even applicants with an excellent credit score often have their applications delayed.

This can be especially true for customers with many opened credit card accounts – it takes time for a bank to make the final decision.

If you are looking to get a credit card asap, read our recommendations below.

When You Need a Card Fast

In another scenario, you might need an instant credit decision for a purchase or an important payment.

In that situation, you will be better off with one of the 'instant approval and use' credit cards:

When you Need a Guaranteed Credit Card

If you are looking for a card with 'guaranteed approval' or an 'easy approval' card offer, your options are limited to:

Review Summary

Many great credit cards offer a quick credit decision and there are several delivery options to get your card as soon as possible (including using a virtual card for online shopping in the meantime). Often, you can find a more balanced offer if you take your time and do a better research. See some truly instant approval credit card options in our summary below. 

Here are 2017's best instant approval credit cards ranked by our editors

Rank Card Type Pros Cons
1 Emporium Card store/catalog $5,000 limit not building credit
2 Total Visa® Card unsecured for bad credit real credit card to rebuild bad credit processing fees
3 PayPal Prepaid prepaid no credit check, connected to your PayPal account, free PIN and
signature transactions
$4.95 monthly fee
4 AmEx Serve prepaid no credit check, 1% cashback, free ATM withdrawals $5.95 monthly fee
5 Walmart credit card store credit 3% off at Walmart.com, 2% at participating gas stations, 1%. Up to $50
bonus. Instant approval
accepted only at Walmart
6 J.C. Penney credit card store credit instant approval, no annual fee, up to 15% off Accepted only at J.C. Penney, Sephora, CVS, and Rite Aid

 

Prepaid cards

The only type of credit cards with no credit check are prepaid cards. Almost anybody can apply and get a guaranteed credit card. Well, it is not a credit card technically but a prepaid card. The problem with prepaid is that you do not get credit – you are still using your own money on the card.

You can check our prepaid cards section with the selection of cards that are at least better than the average.

Some of the best prepaid options are:

read card review Apply Now
at issuer’s secured site
bad credit

$4.95 monthly fee

connected to your Paypal account

read review
read card review Apply Now
at issuer’s secured site
bad credit

$4.95 activation fee

$1 per transaction

read review

Secured cards

Secured cards have much lower application requirements than unsecured credit cards but require a security deposit. Your deposit is held in the event you don't make your payments, but in the meantime you get a credit card with a limit that matches your security deposit. 

Secured cards often report to credit bureaus which can help you build your credit. See the best secured car options below:

read card review Apply Now
at issuer’s secured site
bad credit
no credit
intro purchase APR no intro offerregular APR10.40% to 20.40%*
intro BT APR no intro offer 3% BT fee

$35 annual fee

reports to 3 bureaus

no penalty APR

read review
read card review Apply Now
at issuer’s secured site
bad credit
intro purchase APR no intro offerregular APR23.24% (V)
intro BT APR 23.24% 3% BT fee $5 min
rewards 1x-2x miles per dollar +5,000 bonus
  • 2x miles on gas and groceries
  • 1x miles on all other purchases
  • get 5,000 bonus on first card use

 

$25 annual fee

$0 first-year fee

reports to credit agencies

24 days grace period

unsecured card offer after 12 months

read review
read card review Apply Now
at issuer’s secured site
bad credit
intro purchase APR no intro offerregular APR17.50 - 17.50% (V)
intro BT APR 17.5% 5% BT fee

25 days grace period

reports to credit bureaus as unsecured card

read review
read card review Apply Now
at issuer’s secured site
bad credit
intro purchase APR N.A.regular APR19.24% (V)
intro BT APR 19.24% 5% BT fee min $5

$25 annual fee

25 days grace period

read review
read card review Apply Now
at issuer’s secured site
bad credit
no credit
intro purchase APR no intro offerregular APR24.99 - 24.99% (V)
intro BT APR 24.99% no BT fee

no annual fee

bad credit or no credit 

25 days grace period

read review

Instant Approval Store or Gas Credit Cards

If you need the card for a particular purchase, the fastest way to get instant credit is to get a store credit card. Most department stores will happily offer you one, run the application immediately, and print a slip that you can use for in-store purchases instantly.

For example, if you apply for a Walmart credit card in-store and get approved, you will receive a Temporary Shopping Pass to use within 24 hours at the same store. If you apply for the same card online, you can shop at Walmart.com right after approval.

read card review Apply Now
at issuer’s secured site
fair credit
intro purchase APR no intro offerregular APR24.50% Variable
intro BT APR not allowed not allowed
rewards 10% off at Macy's

no annual fee

20% off for two first days at Macy's

up to 10% off at Macy's if you participate for $25 per year

store card - not accepted anywhere except Macy's

read review
read card review Apply Now
at issuer’s secured site
bad credit
intro purchase APR 0% for 6-24 months regular APR17.15 - 23.15% (V)
intro BT APR not allowed 
rewards $25 bonus on opening $5 back on $500
  • $5 back on every $500 spent on the card
  • 5¢ per gallon on Murphy USA and Walmart gas

 

no annual fee

$25 bonus

read review

Some of the instant store card examples are:

  • Walmart card
  • Target red card
  • Costco card
  • Barclays Apple Rewards card
  • Sam’s Club Discover
  • PayPal Buyer Credit
  • Gap Card,
  • Old Navy Card
  • American Eagle Card
  • Sears card
  • Macy's credit card

For online shopping, nothing compares to an Amazon Rewards card.

read card review Apply Now
at issuer’s secured site
fair credit
intro purchase APR no intro offerregular APR14.24 - 22.24% (V)
intro BT APR no intro offer 14.24-22.24%
rewards 1% 2% 3% on every $1 +$30 off at Amazon
  • earn 3% back on Amazon purchases
  • 2% on gas, dining out and drugstores
  • 1% on everything else
  • get $30 on your Amazon account upon cards approval

no annual fee

3% back on Amazon

2% back on gas, dining and drugstores

read review

Gas station cards work the same way – you can apply for a gas card at one of the gas stations and use it for gas at that particular chain of gas stations.

read card review Apply Now
at issuer’s secured site
bad credit
intro purchase APR no intro offerregular APR26.99% (V)
rewards 5c/10c per gallon 

no annual fee

can be used at 76, Conoco or Phillips only

read review
read card review Apply Now
at issuer’s secured site
fair credit
intro purchase APR no intro offerregular APR26.99% (V)
rewards intro 10c/gallon for 60 days 

no annual fee

not a major card

Chevron and Texaco gas stations use only

read review
read card review Apply Now
at issuer’s secured site
bad credit
intro purchase APR no intro offerregular APR12.00 - 21.00% (V)
rewards 2c/gallon rebates 

no annual fee

not a major card - can use at Marathon stations only

good for rebuilding a credit

read review

How Long it Takes to Get a Card?

First initial ‘conditional approval’ can be almost instant if you have at least a good FICO score and not many credit accounts opened.

It helps if the bank has an online tool to check if you are pre-approved for a card. This option can help to check if you are be pre-qualified for an offer by checking basic information such as your age, income level, and address.

Otherwise, regardless of what banks say about their approval process, you usually will not get your card delivered before 1-2 weeks after your application.

How to Speed up Your Application

Of course, if you have excellent credit and a flawless credit history, some banks will process your application fast and will be ready to hand you the card as quickly as possible. Nevertheless, the card still needs at least 5-7 days to arrive in your mail. There are several tips for speeding up the process.

Keep it simple

Apply for the plain vanilla card, like Barclaycard Arrival or Citi Simplicity, instead of the high-end rewards offers.

Call the bank

You can always call the bank line right after your application if you get an instant approval decision or not. Ask the clerk about your application. It always helps to be polite, cool, and easy; avoid appearing desperate.

If the bank asks you why you want a card, it is wise not to mention sign up bonus or incentives. Find a reason that’s less costly for the bank – say you‘re going to travel soon and would like to have a card with no foreign transaction fee (if that’s the case indeed).

Check expedited shipping option

Ask for expedited overnight shipping. If such an option is available, take advantage of it and get your card quickly. However, this can cost anywhere from $0-$30 extra.

Use card benefits before the card arrives

Some card benefits are accessible before you get the physical plastic in your hands. For example, you may be able to transfer a balance or take advantage of the card's additional benefits, like hotel or airline perks.

read card review Apply Now
at issuer’s secured site
excellent
intro purchase APR 0% for 21 monthsregular APR12.99 - 22.99% (V)
intro BT APR 0% for 21 months 3% BT fee $5 min

no annual fee

0% APR for 21 months for BT and purchases

read review
read card review Apply Now
at issuer’s secured site
excellent
good credit
intro purchase APR no intro offerregular APR16.24%, 20.24% or 24.24% Variable
intro BT APR 0% for 12 months 3% BT fee $5 min
rewards 2x miles on travel and dining, 1x miles on all other purchases, 20,000 sign up bonus

Earn 20,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days — that's enough to redeem for a $200 travel statement credit

Earn 2X miles on travel & dining and 1X miles on all other purchases

Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem

Chip card technology, so paying for your purchases is more secure at chip-card terminals in the U.S. and abroad

No foreign transaction fees on anything you buy while in another country

0% introductory APR for 12 months for each Balance Transfer made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR will apply, currently 16.24%, 20.24% or 24.24%, depending on your creditworthiness

Complimentary online FICO® Credit Score access for Barclaycard Arrival cardmembers

read review

No Credit Check Cards

If you were turned down by unsecured and secured cards, there are cards that do not perform credit checks, both of them secured.

read card review Apply Now
at issuer’s secured site
bad credit
no credit
intro purchase APR N.A.regular APR13.99% (V)

$39 annual fee

reports to major credit bureaus

25 days grace period

read review
read card review Apply Now
at issuer’s secured site
bad credit
intro purchase APR no intro offerregular APR17.50 - 17.50% (V)
intro BT APR 17.5% 5% BT fee

25 days grace period

reports to credit bureaus as unsecured card

read review

Here are the best instant approval credit cards for bad credit

4.7/5
#1 in Instant credit cards rating
3.9/5 Editor's raiting among all cards
Apply Now
at issuer's secured site3.9/5 Editor's raiting
4.1/5
#2 in Instant credit cards rating
3.8/5 Editor's raiting among all cards
Apply Now
at issuer's secured site3.8/5 Editor's raiting
3.8/5
#3 in Instant credit cards rating
3.6/5 Editor's raiting among all cards
Apply Now
at issuer's secured site3.6/5 Editor's raiting
 



Leave a comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.


SIGN UP TO GET FREE
CREDIT SCORE UPDATES
and
exclusive members-only deals
Follow us
Facebook Twitter Google+