Guide to Instant Approval Credit Cards

Learn about instant credit card approval, how to get instant approval and how it’s different from pre-approval


Don’t like waiting for an answer about your credit card application? You could consider instant approval. With credit cards that offer the possibility of instant approval, you could typically find out whether you’ve been approved or denied within seconds or minutes. 

But what exactly is instant approval? There’s a bit more to it than the name suggests. Here are a few things to know.

Key Takeaways

  • There’s no single category of credit cards considered “instant approval credit cards.”
  • Even if you’re approved instantly, you may need to wait for the physical card to arrive before using the account.
  • Card issuers each have their own processes and requirements when it comes to applications.

Which Credit Cards Offer Instant Approval?

There isn’t necessarily a category of cards known as instant approval credit cards. But there are cards that offer the possibility of instant approval. Whether you get instant approval can depend on a few different factors. 

  • What you apply for. If you know your credit scores and target a card designed for your credit level, you could improve your chances of being approved instantly.
  • How you apply. If you apply for the card online, you may have a better chance of being approved instantly than if you apply in person or over the phone, for example.
  • What information you submit. By providing all the information the lender needs to assess your application, you could avoid delays. The process could take longer if the lender needs more information, though.

What Does ‘Instant Approval’ Mean and How Does It Work?

The process of applying for a credit card that offers instant approval may differ, depending on the card and the issuer. But it could involve filling out a credit card application online and the issuer assessing it in real time. 

The issuer could approve or deny your application in seconds or minutes. Or it could ask for additional information, and then a decision could take longer. 

If you’re approved, what’s next? Unless your new credit card is also one that lets you access your account details as soon as you’re approved, you might still have to wait for your card to be mailed before you can use it. With Capital One, you can expect to receive your card within approximately seven to 10 business days of being approved.

What to Know Before Applying for Instant Approval

Thinking about applying for a credit card with instant approval? Here are a few points to consider before applying. 

  • Instant approval doesn’t mean guaranteed approval. Think of it more as an instant reply. An application can still be denied if it doesn’t satisfy the lender’s credit policies.
  • Instant approval might not be instantaneous. First, you shouldn’t expect any approval to be literally instantaneous. As an example, Capital One says it often can take 60 seconds to respond to credit card applications. Second, remember that your card issuer could need more information after you’ve applied. And that would delay any approval—or denial.
  • Instant approval is different from pre-approval. Instant approval could give you a near-instant answer—yes or no—on the cards you apply for. Pre-approval lets you see which cards you could be eligible for before you apply. 
  • You can increase your chances of getting instant approval. Knowing your credit scores can help you figure out which cards suit your credit level. Then finding out whether you’re pre-approved for one of those cards could help you see whether you have a shot at instant approval. 
  • Instant approval is different from instant use. An “instant use” credit card lets you use your account as soon as you’ve been approved. With instant approval, you might still have to wait to receive your card before you can use the account.

Applying for Instant Approval Credit

The application process for instant approval is not much different from the process for any other credit card. It’s common for people to apply online, but card issuers may also accept applications via mail and phone. 

Be sure to carefully review credit card offers to see what terms fit your needs and finances. 

You might also look for lenders that deliver instant use cards. In those cases, credit card numbers are delivered digitally upon approval. And they can be used to make purchases sooner.

FAQs About Instantly Approved Credit Cards

Still have questions about instant approval credit cards? Here are answers to a few you may have:

What’s the Process for Instant Approval?

Each card issuer may have its own approval process. But once you apply for instant approval, the card issuer typically performs a preliminary credit check. From there, you might receive conditional approval as the issuer reviews your credit information more. 

Are Instant Approval, Pre-Approval and Pre-Qualification the Same?

Instant approval, pre-qualification and pre-approval are not the same. Think of being pre-approved as an informal check that gives you an idea of whether you’ll be approved. Credit card issuers use soft credit pulls that won’t impact your credit scores until you formally apply. It’s also important to note that pre-approval and pre-qualification don’t necessarily guarantee approval.

Do Instant Approval Credit Cards Have Perks or Rewards Programs for Cardholders?

Instant approval has to do with the application process. Ultimately, perks, rewards and benefits are different from card to card. So be sure to do your research before applying. And remember that applying for multiple credit cards in a short period can negatively affect your credit scores. 

Is There a Minimum Credit Score to Get a Credit Card With Instant Approval?

Credit card issuers don’t generally share minimum credit scores needed for instant approval. But excellent or good credit scores could help your chances of being approved. 

Is It Possible to Get Instant Approval With Bad Credit?

If you have bad credit or no credit, you might consider applying for a secured credit card. Once you use it responsibly, over time you may be able to build or improve your credit history. And then you might be able to get approved for an instant approval credit card. Or you may be able to upgrade to an unsecured card.

Does Capital One Offer Instant Approval?

You could get an answer in 60 seconds if you apply for a Capital One credit card online or by phone. But it could take longer if Capital One needs more information. And you can expect a written response within seven to 10 days of receiving your application.

You can check the status of your application anytime by calling 800-903-9177.

The Bottom Line

Instant approval could be a good option if you need quick access to new credit. Just remember, it’s not always instantaneous. And it doesn’t always result in approval either. 

But however you apply for a credit card, by law you should receive an answer within 30 days of the issuer receiving your completed application. So regular decisions don’t take too long. You can also save time with pre-approval, which helps you target cards you’re most likely to be eligible for.


We hope you found this helpful. Our content is not intended to provide legal, investment or financial advice or to indicate that a particular Capital One product or service is available or right for you. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, consider talking with a qualified professional.

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