What is an “instant approval” credit card offer and is it a good choice for you as a student?

You may have seen offers for credit card instant approvals or pre-approved offers while studying online and wondered how they are different from other credit cards or debit cards. Most instant approval credit cards are typical credit cards but instead of applying in person or through the mail and waiting for a response you can know if you’re approved within minutes. Take a look at these commonly asked questions about instant approval cards and preapproval offers to see if one might be right for you…

“What is an instant approval credit card?”

The term “instant approval credit card” refers to a card that you can apply for online and receive a fast answer on whether or not you’re approved. When you apply for these types of cards the credit company typically does a preliminary credit check. You may be issued a “conditional approval” meaning the company is doing a more thorough credit check before granting a full approval.

“What is a pre-qualified credit card offer?”

Some credit card issuers offer online pre-qualification forms that take some of your personal information and determine if you qualify for a pre-approved credit card offer. To personalize your offer even further, Discover’s new online preapproval tool allows you to submit basic financial information through a quick online form and check your results in an instant. From there, you can assess the offer presented and decide if it is right for you. There is no impact to your credit from filling out this form until you choose to apply for a card.

“Are students eligible for instant approval credit cards?”

Students are eligible for instant approval cards, but just like with all types of credit, people with a good to excellent credit score are more likely to be approved. Many students haven’t had long enough credit histories to merit an excellent credit score. If you’re a student having trouble being accepted for an instant approval card you may want to look into secured cards instead.

“How can students use an instant approval card to build their credit score?”

It’s hard to overstate the importance of responsible credit use for students. Your credit score can be a major factor in which home you can rent or purchase, what kind of car loan or lease you are approved for and even some job applications.

Late or missed payments may have a very negative impact on your credit score. Think about it like your grade point average: if you fail multiple classes freshman year it can take the rest of college to bring your GPA back up. It’s much easier to use credit responsibly from the start than to tackle a mountain of debt and rebuild your credit score.

Here are some tips for using an instant approval credit card responsibly to build a solid credit score:

  • Keep a close eye on your balance and check your credit score.
  • Set up email or text alerts to pay your bill on time.
  • If you find yourself using the card for impulse purchases when you don’t have the funds to pay the balance, leave it at home instead of carrying it in your wallet. That way it’s available when you need to make a budgeted purchase but you aren’t tempted to use it for something you can’t afford.

“What should students look for in an instant approval credit card?”

Unfortunately there are many credit scams on the market aimed at students and other first-time credit users. Research instant approval offers to fully understand the annual percentage rate for interest, fees and other conditions and terms before applying for a credit card or any line of credit. Comparing offers allows you to see which cards have the lowest rates and fees and which have the best rewards programs for students.

Before applying for an instant approval card check that the website is secure. Always go directly to the official credit card site and look for the padlock in the URL bar or verified security badge on the form to be sure the sensitive information you’re sharing is encrypted.

Credit card instant approvals make it easy for students to start building a credit history. Just be sure to use the card responsibly so you can lay a solid foundation for your financial future.

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.