Customer inserts their credit card into a card reader at a bakery food cart

Are Instantly Approved Credit Cards the Same as Instant Use Credit Cards?

Last Updated: March 11, 2024
2 min read

Key points about: instantly approved credit cards

  1. Being instantly approved for a credit card doesn’t necessarily mean immediate access to your new card.

  2. A virtual credit card and digital wallet allow you to make purchases without your physical card.

  3. Some credit card issuers offer immediate access to use your account once you’re approved.

Once you’ve applied for and been approved for a new credit card, there may be an item you want to buy right away with that card, possibly to take advantage of rewards, begin building credit history, or make a home improvement.

The problem is, you don’t yet have the card in your possession. Unfortunately, you may have to wait until you receive your new or replacement credit card in the mail. Once your card does arrive, you can then use your credit card immediately upon activation. But is there any way you can use your new credit card sooner?

Instantly approved credit cards

Some credit card issuers may instantly approve your application for a credit card.

In order to improve your chances of instant approval, keep track of your credit, pay your bills on time, avoid using too much of your credit limit, and limit the number of hard inquiries on your credit report.

It typically doesn't take long for a credit card issuer to conduct a credit check. However, even if you meet the income and credit score requirements, credit card issuers sometimes may not offer instant credit card approval if it’s necessary to verify your identity.

See if you’re pre-approved
with no harm to your credit score1

Do instant approval credit cards offer virtual credit cards or digital wallets?

A virtual credit card number and digital wallet are both methods of using your credit card account without presenting the physical card.

Did you know?

Some credit card issuers let you use an instant approval credit card right away, while others require that you wait to receive the physical credit card. Once you activate your card, you can start using it and earning rewards.

Once you set up your new credit card account, your card issuer may provide an instant credit card number that allows you to use your new account online or in person with a digital wallet before your physical card arrives.

Next steps

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  1. There is no hard inquiry to your credit report to check if you’re pre-approved. If you’re pre-approved, and you move forward with submitting an application for the credit card, it will result in a hard inquiry which may impact your credit score. Receiving a pre-approval offer does not guarantee approval. Applicants applying without a social security number are not eligible to receive pre-approval offers. Card applicants cannot be pre-approved for the NHL Discover Card.

  • Legal Disclaimer: This site is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for professional advice. The material on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice and does not indicate the availability of any Discover product or service. It does not guarantee that Discover offers or endorses a product or service. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.