The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Sunday, October 25, 2020

12 Instant-Approval Credit Cards

Instant Approval Credit Cards

credit card advice

Adam West
By: Adam West
Posted: March 16, 2020
Advertiser Disclosure

American cooks ran to stores in the early 1950s to snatch up boxes of instant mashed potatoes, the latest kitchen craze in many households. But some felt deceived when they opened the box to find freeze-dried potato flakes and filler.

Similar confusion can occur in the credit card world, where many issuers throw around terms such as “instant” and “guaranteed” to a point where consumers often feel confused.

While most online credit card applications now offer consumers instant approval decisions after they submit their application, no bank can offer guaranteed approval — and only a few banks offer consumers instant use of their new card after being approved.

Below are our top choices of instant-approval credit cards if you’re looking for a quick decision — which often takes less time than whipping up a batch of instant mashed potatoes.

Bad Credit | Fair Credit | Good Credit | No Credit | Instant Use | FAQs

Instant Approval Cards for Bad Credit (300-579 FICO)

Every card in this category provides an online application and near-instant credit decision once you submit your application. That’s because each card issuer has a proprietary system for scanning applications and determining, in a matter of seconds, whether an applicant meets or falls below the bank’s acceptance standards.

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.0/5.0
  • No annual fee
  • Unlike a prepaid card, there is regular reporting to the 3 major credit bureaus
  • Accepted at millions of locations worldwide
  • Make the minimum required security deposit and you'll get an initial credit line of $200. Plus, deposit more money before your account opens to get a higher credit line
  • Access to an authorized bank account is required to make your $49, $99 or $200 refundable security deposit
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months with no additional deposit needed
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$0
Limited, Bad
Bank of America® Cash Back Secured Credit Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.5/5.0
  • Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings and 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs on the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter, then earn 1%
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • A minimum refundable security deposit of $300 (maximum of $4,900) is required to open this account
  • Access your FICO® Score updated monthly for free, within your Mobile Banking app or in Online Banking
  • Optional overdraft protection option helps prevent declined purchases, returned checks or other overdrafts when you link your eligible Bank of America® checking account to your credit card. Transfer fees may apply.
  • $0 annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
23.99% Variable
$0
Bad/Limited
Surge Mastercard® Review

at Celtic Bank'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.1/5.0
  • All credit types welcome to apply!
  • Free access to your Vantage 3.0 score From TransUnion* (When you sign up for e-statements)
  • Monthly reporting to the three major credit bureaus
  • See if you’re Pre-Qualified without impacting your credit score
  • Fast and easy application process; results in seconds
  • Free online account access 24/7
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
See website for Details
N/A
25.90% - 29.99%
See website for Details
Bad, Poor Credit

These cards can provide much more than a quick decision. Each card also reports your payment history to the three major credit reporting bureaus.

That means that with on-time payments, you can start to improve your credit score and eventually upgrade to a card from one of the tiers below.

Instant Approval Cards for Fair Credit (580-669 FICO)

After a short online application, each of the cards below can return a credit decision in a matter of seconds. Occasionally, the bank will require more information from an applicant, which can slow down the decision-making process.

FAIR CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

3.8/5.0
  • Pay no annual fee
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months
  • Fraud coverage if your card is lost or stolen
  • Use online banking to access your account, even from your smartphone, with our mobile app
  • Check out quickly and securely with a contactless card, without touching a terminal or handing your card to a cashier. Just hover your card over a contactless reader, wait for the confirmation, and you're all set.
  • Pay by check, online or at a local branch, all with no fee - and pick the monthly due date that works best for you
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$0
Average, Fair, Limited

FAIR CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.5/5.0
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • Earn cash rewards without signing up for rotating categories
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months
  • Monitor your credit profile with the CreditWise® app, free for everyone
  • $0 fraud liability if your card is ever lost or stolen
  • No limit to how much cash back you can earn, and cash back doesn't expire for the life of the account
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$39
Average, Fair, Limited
Blue from American Express® Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

FAIR CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.5/5.0
  • Earn 1 Membership Rewards® point for every eligible dollar you spend
  • You can get double Membership Rewards® points on every dollar of eligible travel purchases—such as prepaid hotel stays, vacation packages, and cruises—when you use your card to book your trip through AmexTravel.com
  • Amex Offers rewards you at places you like to shop, dine, travel, and more. Simply log in to your account or use the American Express® App to add offers to your card. Then use that same card to pay and enjoy rewards directly on your statement.
  • Plan It® is a payment option that lets you split up purchases of $100 or more into clear and simple monthly payments with a fixed fee and no interest
  • $0 annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
23.99% Variable
$0
Fair/Good

+ See More Instant-Approval Cards for Fair Credit

A fair credit score typically falls between 580 and 669. If you’re in this range, you’ll likely have more options than those who have bad credit. However, you may have to pay more for your credit card in the form of higher interest rates than those with good credit.

Instant Approval Cards for Good Credit (670+ FICO)

Credit card companies love consumers who have good or excellent credit because there’s very little risk involved with issuing them a line of credit. Thanks to your attractive score, you’ll almost always receive a near-instant application response and access to a plethora of credit card options.

GOOD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
N/A
14.99% - 23.74% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

GOOD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • Earn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
  • Redeem on travel—from vacation rentals to car rentals and more. Plus transfer your miles to over 10+ travel loyalty programs
  • No foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.24% - 24.49% (Variable)
$95
Excellent, Good
Blue Cash Preferred® Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

GOOD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • Earn $300 back in the form of a statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new card in your first 3 months of Card Membership
  • Earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year on purchases (then 1%). Also earn 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
  • Earn 3% cash back on transit, including U.S. gas stations, taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses, and more. All other purchases earn 1% cash back.
  • 0% intro APR for 12 months from the date of account opening
  • $95 annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
N/A
13.99% - 23.99% Variable
$95
Good/Excellent

+ See More Instant-Approval Cards for Good Credit

Just remember that even consumers who have good or excellent credit can receive denials. This can happen in the case of Chase’s 5/24 rule or Capital One’s two-card limit.

As stated earlier, no bank can guarantee your approval until you apply. Be certain you understand the issuer’s rules before you submit your application.

Instant Approval Cards for No Credit

Having no credit history is very different from having bad credit. If you have no credit history, it just means that you haven’t created enough financial data to generate a reliable score. This often happens with younger consumers, which is why student credit cards often target applicants with limited or no credit.

NO/LIMITED CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

3.8/5.0
  • Pay no annual fee
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months
  • Fraud coverage if your card is lost or stolen
  • Use online banking to access your account, even from your smartphone, with our mobile app
  • Check out quickly and securely with a contactless card, without touching a terminal or handing your card to a cashier. Just hover your card over a contactless reader, wait for the confirmation, and you're all set.
  • Pay by check, online or at a local branch, all with no fee - and pick the monthly due date that works best for you
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$0
Average, Fair, Limited

NO/LIMITED CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

4.5/5.0
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • Earn cash rewards without signing up for rotating categories
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months
  • Monitor your credit profile with the CreditWise® app, free for everyone
  • $0 fraud liability if your card is ever lost or stolen
  • No limit to how much cash back you can earn, and cash back doesn't expire for the life of the account
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$39
Average, Fair, Limited
Surge Mastercard® Review

at Celtic Bank'ssecure website

NO/LIMITED CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

4.1/5.0
  • All credit types welcome to apply!
  • Free access to your Vantage 3.0 score From TransUnion* (When you sign up for e-statements)
  • Monthly reporting to the three major credit bureaus
  • See if you’re Pre-Qualified without impacting your credit score
  • Fast and easy application process; results in seconds
  • Free online account access 24/7
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
See website for Details
N/A
25.90% - 29.99%
See website for Details
Bad, Poor Credit

+ See More Instant-Approval Cards for No Credit

The beauty in these cards comes from their ability to help you build credit quickly. Most cards report your payment history to the credit reporting bureaus every month. With on-time payments and responsible spending, you can start to generate a positive credit score in less than six months.

Issuers with Instant-Use Cards Upon Approval

Some cards allow you to start using your new credit line right after being approved. The issuers below allow for instant credit use, even before you receive your card.

This often happens thanks to a temporary virtual credit card number. You can use this card number online or to make other card-not-present (CNP) transactions.

The number will be different from your permanent card number that’s attached to your physical card, so be sure to update any recurring payments you set up with the temporary number.

American Express: American Express cardholders have access to a digital wallet that holds credit card numbers for all of your Amex accounts. The wallet updates as soon you receive credit approval to include a temporary card number that links to your new credit line. American Express only issues credit cards for consumers with good or better credit, however.

Bank of America: If you apply and are approved for a BoA card through the BoA mobile app, you can access a portion of your credit line immediately upon approval. The bank maintains the right to limit how much of your new credit line you can charge to your temporary card number before the permanent card arrives.

Barclays: Barclays is one of the world’s largest banks and issues several co-branded credit cards that allow instant access to card numbers. These include the Frontier Airlines World Mastercard®, Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard®, The JetBlue Card, Priceline Rewards™ Visa® Card, the Princess Cruises® Rewards Visa® Card, and the Uber Credit Card. One big caveat: These company-branded cards only allow you to immediately use your new credit line when purchasing from the company shown on the card.

HSBC: HSBC only provides approved applicants with their new credit card number upon approval — the bank will not provide the CVC security code or expiration date — which most merchants require to complete a transaction.

USAA: New USAA cardholders can instantly receive their new credit card number, along with the expiration date and CVC security code, upon approval. The only catch is that you’re limited to charging no more than $1,000 until your physical card arrives in the mail in seven to 10 business days.

Which Credit Cards Have Instant Approval?

Thanks to the internet and the proliferation of financial technology, just about every bank and credit card issuer can now offer instant application decisions.

This takes place when your application enters the bank’s internal decision-making system that scans your criteria and pulls the necessary information to make a decision within a matter of seconds.

Sometimes a bank will require more information from an applicant. When this happens, you’re given a window — often between seven and 30 days — to submit the necessary data that will allow the bank to make a definitive decision.

Chase Freedom® Application

But while banks can often give you an instant credit decision, there’s no way to tell if you’ll receive approval until you officially submit your application. While many card issuers send out letters and emails that tout pre-approval offers, they can’t guarantee you’ll receive your card until they get a better look at your credit report.

The bank can’t see that information until you give them permission to view it via a submitted application. And pre-qualified offers mean the bank or card issuer has only looked at a modified version of your credit history and does not guarantee you’ll receive the card.

Can You Use a Credit Card the Same Day You’re Approved?

In some cases, you can use your new credit card as soon as you’re approved — with some restrictions.

Banks including American Express and Bank of America provide digital wallets through their mobile application that can provide a new credit card number instantly upon approval. You can use this number to make purchases with any merchant or service provider who is willing to perform a card-not-present transaction.

A few banks, namely HSBC, will provide you with your new credit card number but nothing else. You can’t see your expiration date or CVC security code.

To get that information, you’ll have to wait for your card to arrive in the mail. That typically takes between seven and 10 business days.

USAA also provides instant access to your full range of credit card data but limits new cardholders from charging any more than $1,000 to their new credit line before the physical card arrives in the mail.

Just keep in mind that most banks that allow instant credit line access do so by providing you with a temporary credit card number that will not match the number on your permanent physical card.

If you set up recurring payments using the temporary number, be sure to update your account with the permanent number when the card arrives to avoid future charges being declined.

Can I Get a Credit Card Same Day?

Some physical bank branches have the technology to print new cards on demand. If you’re approved at one of these banks, you can potentially receive your credit card as soon as you’re approved.

This technology typically only works with debit cards, though, so be sure to check with the bank before applying.

If you submit a credit application online, you can often receive an instant credit decision, but it’s nearly impossible for the bank to approve your application, print your card, and send it to you on the same day.

Some issuers will provide expedited shipping to get your card to you faster — but no one has found a way to make it all happen in one day… yet.

Issuer Shipping Times

If your bank doesn’t provide on-demand printing and you desperately need access to a credit card that same day, you can consider opening a prepaid debit card account at your local grocery or convenience store.

These cards require you to fund the account with a cash or debit deposit at the register, but you instantly receive your new card and can make credit charges against the funds you deposited.

While this isn’t a traditional credit card, you can use the card at any merchant that accepts credit cards — and you can start as soon as you purchase the card from the store.

Get Approval in a Matter of Seconds

While instant potatoes earned instant approval among most American households, it took many years for the credit card industry to catch up with the same speedy processing.

Today’s rapid-fire internet makes it easier than ever for a bank to scan your application and return with a credit decision in a matter of seconds. But just because the bank can review your application quickly doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed a card.

Unlike the quick acceptance from 1950s home cooks of instant freeze-dried potato flakes, credit card pre-approvals aren’t always what they seem. Be sure you fully understand the state of your credit report before submitting an application for credit to a bank.

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