What are instant approval credit cards?

Need credit fast for an emergency or upcoming travel? Instant approval credit cards are a convenient way to take the guesswork out of the application process. Instant approval means that when you apply for the credit card online you will receive a quick decision, often within a few minutes, on whether or not you have been approved.

How the instant approval process works

When you apply for an instant approval card online, the credit card company will run a preliminary credit check. Generally, the higher your credit score is, the more likely you will be approved for the card.

Once the credit card company receives your score and approves your application, they usually issue a “conditional approval,” while they perform a more thorough check of your credit history. Creditors typically determine your creditworthiness by examining your financial background including your prior credit card usage, income, and they will verify you meet their age and residency requirements. Therefore, an instant approval is not always a guarantee you will receive the card. 

What you need to know before you apply

Generally, to receive an instant approval, you need to have good to excellent credit.  However, for example, if you are a student with a limited credit history, you still have plenty of options. Several credit card companies offer prepaid, secure and instant approval student credit cards that can help. 

While you can get a decision quickly, it’s important to take your time to shop around and compare instant approval offers. To ensure you find the best credit card for you, always read the fine print and research the features and benefits of the card before you apply.

While the approval process varies by issuers, an instant approval does not mean you have immediate access to the credit card. Typically you will have to wait 5-7 days to receive your new credit card and terms.

Is there a way to know if I’m pre-approved for a credit card before applying?

While there is no such thing as a guaranteed approval on a credit card, there is a way to make more informed decisions and to review various card offers prior to applying. We recommend using an online preapproval tool like Discover’s. This requires that you submit a brief form where you provide basic personal and financial information. The card issuer will use that information to look up offers that you may qualify for. You can decide based on the credit card offer presented whether or not you’d want to take the next step and apply for the card.

Is it safe to apply for an instant approval card?

While providing your personal financial information through a website can be scary, credit card companies use data encryption to help keep your personal financial information safe. However, it’s always a good idea to apply for the credit card directly through the credit card issuer’s website, and look for additional safety notifications like a padlock or verified security badge. You can also ensure that a website is secure by looking for “https” at the beginning of the website’s URL.

If you are hesitant to apply for a card right away, using a preapproval online tool like Discover’s allows you to research offers that align with your basic financial information with no impact to your credit score. Taking the time to research before you apply can help you find a low interest or rewards card offering instant approval. Once you get approved, you’ll soon have a new card in your wallet rewarding you for everyday purchases from gas to groceries.

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.