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How To Apply For An Instant Approval Credit Card

Published 5/14/08 (Modified 12/20/16)
By MoneyBlueBook

Instant Approval Credit Cards

These days, with the emphasis towards quicker and more convenient methods of transacting business (contact-less radio frequency credit card scanners, for example), credit card companies are constantly researching ways to improve the speed of credit transactions and the expediency at which they acquire new customers. Currently, most standard online and paper credit card applications take upwards of 2 weeks to a month or longer to get reviewed and approved. For the vast majority of people, this is no big deal since most people are usually not in any particular hurry to get a new credit card. Most people apply for credit cards because they want the long term purchase convenience that they offer, or they want the ability to save money on ordinary purchases by earning credit card rewards and rebate discounts. But there are consumers who simply don't like to wait weeks to find out whether their credit applications were approved or denied. For those who intend to use their new revolving credit account to pay down debt as soon as possible or make an emergency balance transfer, having to wait up to 4 weeks or longer is often a pretty significant inconvenience. For those types of people, choosing to go with an instant approval credit card offer may be the way to go.

Generally, instant approval credit cards benefit those with exceptional credit scores and credit histories the most. For credit cards that offer or advertise the instant approval option, once the online card application is submitted with all requested information provided, the completed form gets sent on an expedited review track for baseline evaluation and instant processing. The application information is usually immediately transmitted to credit reporting agencies for identity verification and credit score screening. The expedited process may require a few minutes to a few hours depending on the automation speed and the complexity of your financial history, but it's usually substantially faster than the normal card approval process. Those with excellent to perfect credit scores with no extraneous or questionable personal or business information requiring further follow up may get instantly approved in a matter of a few minutes. The notification may happen online as a instant pop up congratulatory message or it may occur as an approval email that is sent to you a few hours after your application submission. With the same expediency, most instant approval credit cards can provide instant denial as well to save you time. By not having to wait around indefinitely for a decision, your time is freed to immediately pursue another more viable credit card alternate should your first card option be declined, at your own discretion of course.

However, one thing to keep in mind in all of this is that all credit card application inquiries are considered hard credit checks that result in short term negative hits against your credit score. Even if your instant approval credit card application is run through the card issuer's computer algorithm and promptly denied, the inquiry itself will still leave a residual FICO credit score ding. If you aren't willing to compromise your credit score but still want to find the right credit card for you, take a look at the rewards cards listed below. 

Ways To Speed Up The Instant Approval and Credit Card Application Process

It should be pointed out that instant approval does not always necessarily mean instant credit for everyone. Instant approval credit card offers are usually meant for those with excellent credit. Those with bad credit are unlikely to be approved under the expedited review process of instant approval cards. Individuals with poor or damaged credit seeking instant credit approval will likely have to resort to secured credit card offers where cash collateral deposits must be made prior to the extension of revolving credit lines. Those with average credit will likely be qualified for unsecured card offers but probably not get cleared for instant approval, as the credit application will likely be flagged for further manual review.

Those who wish to substantially increase their chances and speed up the credit card approval process should note that credit card issuers tend to have approval preference for individuals from certain financially favorable demographics and backgrounds. Obviously your credit score is the most pertinent and visible evidence of your credit worthiness. However, in my research, I've noticed that instant approval credit card issuers tend to offer high preference for those applicants who are married, own their homes, and carry mortgages - over single, unmarried individual applicants who rent their homes. I suspect instant approval credit card issuers use these demographic indicators to make rapid assumptions about the credit worthiness and possible risk factor of potential card applicants.

Keep In Mind That Instant Approval Does Not Necessarily Mean Instant Receipt Of Your New Credit Card

Before instant approval credit card seekers get their premature hopes up, there are certain things to keep in mind. First of all, even for those with perfect credit whereby your credit card application gets instantly approved, you won't likely receive your actual credit card for another 3-7 days. That's usually the time needed to set up your credit card account and mail your plastic card out to you. So if you are hoping for the company to provide you a temporary credit card number that you can use immediately, that's a very unlikely scenario. In the past, many card issuers offered instant account approval along with instant access to your new 16 digit credit card number and expiration date. This greatly sped the approval and card receipt process, but due to the growing prevalence of identity theft cases, the practice has been curtailed. So, don't expect to be able to print out your credit card number online after your instant or subsequent email approval. Most credit card issuers have halted the practice of issuing temporary usable numbers due to the prevalence of fraud and the need for subsequent verification.

Even though instant doesn't mean immediate anymore, the realistic benefit of instant approval cards is that you don't have to wait around in vain to see if you were approved. For example, a few years ago, I attempted to take advantage of 0% balance transfer credit cards and get involved in making money with balance transfer arbitrage. I applied for several 0% credit card offers (none offered instant approval). Only after waiting around for 3-4 weeks did I finally receive notification that I was only approved for some of them. Instant approval card offers help to get around this by greatly speeding up the account approval process. Of course there is still the few days needed for the postal service to actually get the card out to you - that can't be avoided.

Retail Store Credit Cards Are The Only Truly Guaranteed, Instant Approval Credit Card Offers Available, But They Should Be Avoided At All Cost

While I'm a reward credit card supporter, I don't recommend that consumers ever apply for one of those instant approval department or retail store credit cards. Department store instant approval credit cards tend to offer the worst interest rates and card payment terms possible. Usually the retail cards will entice consumers with a one time savings discount of 10-20% off their first time purchase but after that, they usually don't offer any further purchase rewards. Most of these retail cards are also very restrictive in where they can be used and are usually only good for one particular store line. Department stores utilize the marketing power of impulse buying to get consumers to opt for these instant approval retail credit cards that allow consumers to walk into a Best Buy or Circuit City with no money or credit card in their pocket and still walk out with an expensive plasma TV. These retail cards may sound tempting, but they should be avoided. If you want to get your revolving credit line quickly, you are better off evaluating and reviewing instant approval credit card offers online instead.

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