*Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on product links. For more information, please see our Advertiser Disclosure
Although many consumers are more accustomed to getting immediate rejection when they try to apply for a new credit card, it is possible to virtually guarantee that you can get instant approval on credit card applications.
There are basically two main paths to approval that should work for almost anyone. Once you understand them and what makes them tick you may never again have to worry about being turned down for a credit card - or waiting forever to find out whether or not your card application was accepted.
#1 Good to Excellent Credit
One method is for those with good to excellent credit to apply for cards that they have a high chance of receiving because those cards solicit people with their good to excellent credit standing and profile. To get the fastest approval - or instant approval - the application should be filed out and submitted online. The company will instantly run a credit check and if you meet their criteria you will be notified immediately and your card will be mailed to you right away without delay.
Understand, however, that there is a difference between "instant approval and "guaranteed approval. If you are approved you will be told immediately, and if you are turned down you will also find out instantly. Just because you apply for a card it is not a guarantee that you will be approved; that all depends on your credit score and history with these particular types of credit cards.
Before you Apply
Before asking for one of these cards, keep in mind that if you do not get approved it can weaken your credit score. Any time your credit files are accessed by someone it puts a "ding" on your credit report. The idea behind this rather punitive system is that people are desperate for credit will frequently ask for additional lines of credit, making them a high credit risk.
Submitting applications, especially more than one within a short time frame, is viewed by credit reporting agencies as a symptom of poor credit performance. They profile people according to their credit behaviors and results, and those who have their credit checked but are then rejected by a credit card company are considered higher risk - so they may increase their chances of getting a lower credit score.
Many of these unsecured or non-prepaid cards of the more traditional and conventional variety also make it easier to get immediate approval if you are willing to transfer a balance from another credit card.?The reasoning here is that credit card companies make money by acquiring new customers, but they make even more money if they can steal those customers from a competitor. The money that you transfer from your existing card - money that is earning profits for your card company because you are paying interest - is especially attractive to that company's competitors.
If you complete a balance transfer over to their card they will often give you an instant approval and they will usually also base your new line of available credit or credit ceiling on the dollar amount you transfer over to them. So, switching over a balance can also increase the likelihood that you will be awarded a credit ceiling higher than the amount you agree to transfer.
Additionally, credit card companies probably take into consideration when approving you for a new card, is that you already have a card with another bank, so you must have been credit worthy at the time you got the card. So if you don't have any significant recent credit problems they can do a fast credit score check and give you instant approval online.
Bottom line, the best option for you as a consumer when choosing to transfer a balance is to move your outstanding balance to a new card with a significantly lower interest rate than you are currently paying.
#2 Prepaid Credit Cards
The other type of instant credit card approval is for people at the opposite end of the credit rating spectrum who may have no credit history to speak of, bad credit, or a lower than average credit score - and who are able to make a deposit into a prepaid credit card account.
A prepaid credit card is one that gives you a credit card spending limit directly proportionate to the amount of cash you deposit into the credit card account ahead of time. When you make your cash deposit, in other words, you are basically establishing your own credit by paying for it ahead of time.
Prepaid credit cards assume no risk because your future purchases are backed by money you already deposited. They aren't worried about you not paying your monthly credit card bill because you have already prepaid for your card activity.
You cannot carry a balance, either, so there is no interest for you to pay and no worry on behalf of your credit card company about you defaulting on your outstanding balance. Since there is no such thing as an outstanding balance and your purchases are secured by cash already on deposit, card companies have no problem giving you instant card approval. They feel no need to do a credit check or to fret over your credit score because they are not going to lend you money or extend you credit that is not already prepaid.
There is also an interesting article in Kiplinger that discusses why it is now harder to get instant approval for department store or retail merchant credit cards. This adds even more support to the argument that regular credit cards are always a better choice than retail store plastic.