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Unfortunately the options for "instant approval" credit cards are very limited, as the vast majority of issuers of cards for good credit, fair credit, and poor credit offer quick (but not instant) approval. We encourage you to visit those links to find better offers for your situation. Below is a summary of the limited options for truly instant approval.
Here are 2020's best instant approval credit cards:
As the digital information era continues to ramp up, the financial industry is slowly adapting the way it approves applicants. But the keyword there is “slowly.” For example, while newer credit scoring models are including more nontraditional data, most of the industry has yet to adopt the new models.
Even if more financial services organizations incorporate alternative data sources into their evaluations, the basic tenets of the credit approval process will likely remain the same five general areas that are used to calculate your credit score. Here’s what issuers look for when determining whether to approve your credit card application:
1. Your payment history
Your payment history is the most significant factor in both your credit score and in getting approved for new credit. In general, most issuers will assume that if you have a long history of paying your bills on time and as agreed, you'll more than likely continue to do so. Similarly, red flags, like delinquent payments or defaulted loans, indicate you may be less likely to pay your debts and may cause you to be rejected for a new card.
2. Your debt & credit utilization
Another major factor in your credit score is how much debt you currently hold. But it’s not quite that simple; the issuer won’t just look at how much you owe on all of your accounts across the board. Instead, they’ll look at each type of debt, including how much you owe and how much you’ve repaid.
For example, issuers won’t look solely at your credit card balances, but will instead look at your credit utilization, or the ratio of how much you owe to your available credit limit.
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.
3. The length of your credit history
The length of time you’ve had credit is a big factor in getting approved for a new card. If you have no or a limited credit history, it’s hard to issuers to gauge your potential credit risk. Thankfully, there are a range of cards out there specifically designed for newcomers to establish and build their credit.
4. The types of credit you have
The variety of credit types you have held — and managed responsibly — can also factor into your credit score and credit card approval. In general, having multiple types of credit accounts in good standing, such as an installment loan and a credit card, will increase your chances of being approved for new credit lines.
5. Your recent hard inquiries
Each time you apply for new credit and the creditor checks your credit report, a hard inquiry is noted on your report. Hard inquiries can last for up to two years on your report before they age off.
While one or two recent hard inquiries is typically acceptable in a credit card applicant, a series of recent hard inquiries are viewed as a red flag by most issuers, as it indicates the potential to take on debt that will impact your ability to repay any new credit lines.
6. Your open accounts
As a way to combat credit card rewards churners, many issuers are implementing rules on how many new credit card accounts you can have and still be approved.
Chase, in particular, is known for instantly rejecting applicants who have opened five or more credit card accounts in the last 24 months, but other issuers are also adopting policies limiting how many new accounts you can have and/or how many credit cards you can have from a single issuer.
7. Your income
Although income isn’t a primary factor, it’s scrutinized in credit card applications and sometimes verified by the credit card company, especially when it comes to assigning you a credit limit.
Part of this is to satisfy the law — the CARD Act requires that consumers need to have a reasonable expectation of being able to repay their debt to be approved for a credit card. (Of course, even without this requirements, knowing you have the means to repay your credit line is imperative to the issuers.)
Boost your credit score to boost your approval chances
Although credit card issuers look at your entire credit profile before making a decision, your credit score is an easy way to gauge your credit risk — and your approval chances. The higher your credit score, the better your chances are of being approved for most credit cards.
If your credit score is lower than you’d like it to be, the first step is to check your credit reports. Compare your reports to the seven things issuers look for to determine where you need to make improvements. With a solid action plan, you can boost your score — and your approval rate.
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.
The information on this page was reviewed for accuracy on .
About the Author
Brittney Mayer Finance Contributor
Brittney is a Credit Strategist and Finance Expert who has spent years honing her knowledge of the credit industry both personally and professionally. Brittney applies her more than a decade of research experience to crafting in-depth consumer guides designed to help CardRates readers make better, more informed financial decisions.
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Advertiser Disclosure: The credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which CardRates.com receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CardRates.com does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers. See the credit card issuer's website for specific terms and conditions of each card.