2016's Best Instant Approval Credit Cards

Below are our picks for 2016's best credit cards featuring instant approval. Note that most issuers of cards for good credit, fair credit, and poor credit do not offer instant approval:

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7 Factors Issuers Consider in Approval Decisions

Mike Randall
Finance Expert
7 Factors Issuers Consider in Approval Decisions
CardRates.com Guide: Instant Approval

The credit card approval process has changed dramatically in recent years. Credit card issuers are much more careful about who they approve for their cards and how much credit they extend.

The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act that was signed into law in February of 2010 had a big part in this. The CARD Act makes it harder for card issuers to raise rates, impose new fees and cancel cards that have been issued. In effect, it reduces their ability to cover losses from non-payment or delinquent card holders.

As a result, the credit card companies have tightened their approval processes and introduced some new criteria for issuing credit cards. Here are some of the current factors considered in credit card approval decisions.

Length of credit history

The length of time you’ve had credit is a big factor in getting approved for a new card. This can make it especially hard for younger people and those new to the credit game to get approved. Do your best to meet the other qualifications and time will take care of this one.

Types of credit held

If you have a mortgage or installment loan like a car payment, credit card issuers are more likely to approve you — they see you as capable of managing a variety of different loan types.

Credit utilization

If you have a credit card or two and are near the maximum credit limit, this can be a red flag to a card issuer. It may appear as though you’re struggling to pay down your debt and are overextended.


This is one of the most effective ways card issuers have of determining future behavior. Studies show borrowers with a history of making late payments will repeat this habit.

Recent hard inquiries

If you have repeatedly applied for credit in the past 30 days, each one generates a hard inquiry of your credit report. Card issuers interpret you as someone who desperately needs additional income. Avoid multiple credit card applications in a short time period.

Your income

Although income isn’t a primary factor, it’s scrutinized in credit card applications and sometimes verified by the credit card company. However, they recognize there’s no guarantee an applicant with a significant salary will make payments on time.

Your credit score

Yes, an applicant’s credit score is still one of the best ways to determine their creditworthiness. The higher your credit score, the more likely you’ll be approved. If you have trouble getting a card, work hard to bring your score up. Although times have changed and credit is harder to get now, the protections put in place by the CARD act are in our favor. Credit card companies now operate with much more transparency and fairness than ever before.

As long as you follow the basic guidelines of debt management, you should have no problems getting the credit you deserve.

Photo source: ucps.k12.nc.us

Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Mike Randall

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