Instant decision credit cards

Most credit card issuers can now approve (or reject) applications in minutes.

When you apply for a credit card online, it’s common to receive approval within 60 seconds or less. Once your application is approved, you should usually receive your card within a week or 2. However, this isn’t guaranteed, and some providers could take longer to process your application.

Compare instant approval credit cards

Your approval time for these credit cards depends on the information you provide. Typically, a decision is instant or near instant, and you’ll receive it within a few minutes of completing your application. In some cases, more information will be required, and it may take longer.

Table: sorted by representative APR, promoted deals first
Name Product Rating Finder score Purchases Balance transfers Annual/monthly fees Representative APR Incentive Link
Royal Bank of Scotland Purchase & Balance Transfer Credit Card
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
0% for 19 months reverting to 24.9%
0% for 19 months
(2.99% fee)
£0
24.9% APR (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 24.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 24.9% APR (variable).
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NatWest Purchase & Balance Transfer Credit Card
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
0% for 19 months reverting to 24.9%
0% for 19 months
(2.99% fee)
£0
24.9% APR (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 24.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 24.9% APR (variable).
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HSBC Purchase Plus Credit Card
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
0% for 18 months reverting to 24.9%
0% for 16 months
(3.49%, min £5 fee)
£0
24.9% APR (variable)
Discounts and exclusive offers for dining experiences, leisure activities and shopping available through HSBC Home and Away.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 24.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 24.9% APR (variable). You might get different interest rates and promotional periods to those shown here, because these depend on your circumstances.
Check eligibility
Santander All in One Credit Card
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
0% for 15 months reverting to 23.9%
0% for 15 months
(0% fee)
£3 per month
29.8% APR (variable)
0.5% after £1 of monthly spend. Maximum of £10 cashback paid per month. Cashback paid Monthly into Card Account. Maximum spend for cashback purposes is limited to credit limit.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 23.9% (variable) p.a. with a fee of £3 per month, your representative rate is 29.8% APR (variable).
Check eligibility
Tesco Bank Clubcard Plus Credit Card Mastercard
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
0% for 24 months reverting to 19.94%
21.81%
(3.99% fee)
£7.99 per month
37.7% APR (variable)
5 points per £4 spent (£4 minimum) in Tesco and 1 point per £8 spent (£8 minimum) outside Tesco. Must have available credit to earn points. Points are converted to Tesco vouchers or can be exchanged for Partner rewards to receive money off a variety of restaurants, entertainment or Avios points.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 19.94% (variable) p.a. with a fee of £7.99 per month, your representative rate is 37.7% APR (variable).
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Name Product Rating Finder score Balance transfers Balance transfer fee Purchases Annual/monthly fees Representative APR Incentive Link
Santander Everyday Long Term Balance Transfer Credit Card
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
0% for 26 months reverting to 23.9%
3% (min. £5)
0% for 3 months reverting to 23.9%
£0
23.9% APR (variable)
Sign up for Santander Boosts to receive cashback, vouchers, offers and prize draws from selected retailers.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 23.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 23.9% APR (variable).
Check eligibility
NatWest Balance Transfer Credit Card
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
0% for 13 months reverting to 24.9%
0%
0% for 3 months reverting to 24.9%
£0
24.9% APR (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 24.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 24.9% APR (variable).
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Royal Bank of Scotland Balance Transfer Credit Card
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
0% for 13 months reverting to 24.9%
0%
0% for 3 months reverting to 24.9%
£0
24.9% APR (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 24.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 24.9% APR (variable).
Go to site
Royal Bank of Scotland Purchase & Balance Transfer Credit Card
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
0% for 19 months reverting to 24.9%
2.99%
0% for 19 months reverting to 24.9%
£0
24.9% APR (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 24.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 24.9% APR (variable).
Go to site
NatWest Longer Balance Transfer Credit Card
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
0% for 23 months reverting to 24.9%
3.49%
0% for 3 months reverting to 24.9%
£0
24.9% APR (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 24.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 24.9% APR (variable).
Go to site
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Name Product Rating Finder score Purchases Annual/monthly fees Initial credit limits Representative APR Incentive Link
M&S Bank Credit Card Transfer Plus Offer Mastercard
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
0% for 3 months reverting to 24.9%
£0
Min. limit £500, max. limit not specified.
24.9% APR (variable)
1 point per £1 spent with M&S and 1 point per £5 spent elsewhere. Enjoy 55 days interest free, preferential rates plus no cash advance fee when buying M&S travel money with the card.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 24.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 24.9% APR (variable).
Check eligibility
Santander All in One Credit Card
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
0% for 15 months reverting to 23.9%
£3 per month
Min. limit £500, max. limit not specified.
29.8% APR (variable)
0.5% after £1 of monthly spend. Maximum of £10 cashback paid per month. Cashback paid Monthly into Card Account. Maximum spend for cashback purposes is limited to credit limit.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 23.9% (variable) p.a. with a fee of £3 per month, your representative rate is 29.8% APR (variable).
Check eligibility
British Airways American Express® Credit Card
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
31%
£0
Min. limit £700, max. limit not specified.
31% APR (variable)
Earn 5,000 points when you spend £1,000 within 3 months of account opening. Terms apply. UK 18+, subject to status. Earn 1 Avios for virtually every £1 spent.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 31% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 31% APR (variable).
Check eligibility
American Express® Rewards Credit Card
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
31%
£0
Min. limit £500, max. limit not specified.
31% APR (variable)
Earn 1 Membership Rewards® point for every £1 spent thereafter. Earn up to 90,000 bonus points per year through refer a friend, 4,000 points awarded for every friend approved. 1 point = 0.45p (min 1,000 points) to shop, other rewards have differing conversions.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 31% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 31% APR (variable).
Check eligibility
Amex® Cashback Everyday Credit Card
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
31%
£0
Min. limit £700, max. limit not specified.
31% APR (variable)
New Cardmembers get 5% cashback on your purchases (up to £125) for the first 5 months of Cardmembership. Offer ends 9 April 2024. Terms and minimum spend apply. 18+, subject to status. Terms apply. Spend £0 to £10,000 and receive 0.5% cashback on all purchases. Spend over £10,000 and receive 1% cashback on purchases.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 31% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 31% APR (variable).
Check eligibility
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Name Product Rating Finder score Annual/monthly fees Initial credit limits Minimum income Representative APR Incentive Link
Additional account needed
HSBC Student Credit Card Visa
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
£0
Min. limit £250, max. limit £500.
Not specified
18.9%
Available alongside an HSBC Student Account (receive £100 and a 1-year subscription to Headspace when you open a new student account).
Representative example: When you spend £500 at a purchase rate of 18.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 18.9% APR (variable).
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Additional account needed
AIB Student Credit Card
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
£0
Min. limit £300, max. limit not specified.
Not specified
12.9%
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 12.2% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 12.9% APR (variable).
Additional account needed
TSB Student Credit Card
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
£0
Min. limit £500, max. limit £1,000.
Not specified
21.9%
Representative example: When you spend £1,000 at a purchase rate of 21.95% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 21.9% APR (variable).
TSB Classic Credit Card Mastercard
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
£0
Min. limit £500, max. limit not specified.
Not specified
28.9%
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 28.95% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 28.9% APR (variable).
Sainsbury's Bank Everyday Credit Card Mastercard
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
£0
Min. limit not specified, max. limit not specified.
Not specified
29.4%
3 Nectar points per £2 spent in Sainsbury's, Argos, Habitat and Tu clothing, and 1 Nectar point for every £5 spent elsewhere. 1 point = 0.5p (min 500pts)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 29.4% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 29.4% APR (variable).
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What is an instant approval credit card?

The word “instant approval credit card” is slightly misleading, as you’re never guaranteed an instant approval. If you have a lower credit score, made an error on your application or not provided all the required information, it could delay the application process. In this instance, the provider will let you know if there’s more information they require when considering your eligibility.

An instant approval credit card has an application that returns a decision within a few minutes or less. Applications are typically online and take around 10-15 minutes to complete. The credit card provider can access your credit report from one of the credit reference agencies and calculate its response using your credit status almost instantly.

Like any other credit card application, though, your approval depends on your credit history, income and the information you included in your application.

Instant approval and guaranteed approval – what's the difference?

Many credit card providers offer “instant approval” online after a 10-15 minute application process. However, the words “guaranteed approval” or “pre-approved” are generally used as marketing tools to entice new customers. Usually, these offers are made using limited or out-of-date information about your financial history. Without you going through the credit card application process, an approval can never be 100% guaranteed.

What are your chances for instant approval?

Your chance of approval depends on the card provider’s criteria. Typically, people with good to excellent credit scores have a strong chance of a quick approval. However, it’s also possible for people with low credit scores to find instant approval for certain credit card products designed for their financial profile.

It’s important to know that even if you meet the basic eligibility requirements and have an excellent credit score, there are a number of reasons your application may be declined. An instant approval credit card doesn’t mean your approval is guaranteed.

Couple applying for credit on a laptop

How to improve your chances of an instant approval

To increase your chances of being accepted for an instant approval, it’s best to focus on your credit score. To give it a boost, you can:

  • Register on the electoral roll. This helps lenders verify you are who you say you are and will increase your credit score.
  • Lower your credit utilisation ratio. This is the percentage you use of your credit limit, and it’s best to keep it as low as possible to help improve your credit score. Ideally, you want to keep it below 30%.
  • Pay bills on time. Paying your bills in full and on time shows lenders you’re a reliable borrower, and it can help increase your chances of approval. Missed payments, on the other hand, can damage your credit score.
  • Space out applications. Too many applications in a short amount of time can lower your credit score and deter lenders from letting you borrow.

How to apply for an instant approval credit card in 4 steps

Follow the steps below when applying for an instant approval credit card:

  1. Compare your options.
  2. Check the eligibility requirements.
  3. Collect the necessary documents and information.
  4. Apply online.

Step 1. Compare your options.

As you can apply for most credit cards online and receive an instant decision within 60 seconds, it’s important to compare your options before applying. Rather than basing your decision on potentially fast approval, be sure to consider the following:

  • Interest rates. Check the interest rate for purchases and balance transfers before settling on a card. If there’s a 0% introductory offer, check the standard interest rate after the promotional period ends.
  • Fees. Annual, foreign transaction and balance transfer fees should all be taken into consideration.
  • Rewards and benefits. Rewards points, cashback, sign-up bonuses, free airport lounge access, complimentary insurance and purchase protection are just some of the benefits to consider when comparing your options.

Make sure you can afford the card and that it offers the extra features you need to manage your credit.

Step 2. Check the eligibility requirements.

While you could receive approval within 60 seconds, you won’t receive approval if you don’t meet the eligibility requirements. Some of the criteria you’ll be expected to meet includes:

  • Good credit history. Your application is more likely to be accepted if you have a good credit history with no evidence of defaults. However, if you have poor credit, you may find specific credit card products tailored towards your needs, such as credit builder cards.
  • Age and residential status. Most credit cards are only available to UK residents aged 18 or over.
  • Income. You may need to meet a minimum income requirement to receive approval for a particular card, although some providers don’t specify an amount.

Step 3. Collect the necessary documents and information.

When you apply for a credit card online, you’ll be required to reference a number of documents and provide some personal information to receive instant approval. To speed up the application process, make sure you have this information to hand before you begin.

Some of the personal information you’ll need to provide includes:

  • Personal details. You’ll need to provide your full name, date of birth, residential address and contact details.
  • Employment status and income. You’ll need to provide details of employment and income, including your annual salary and if you’re full-time, part-time, retired, etc.
  • Proof of identity. You may be asked to provide proof of your identity, such as your driver’s licence or passport number.
  • Balance transfer details. If you’re applying for a balance transfer, you’ll need to provide the details of your existing account and the amount you’re transferring during the application.

Credit card application tips

Step 4. Apply online.

Once you’ve compared your credit card options, find out if the provider has an eligibility check on their website. This determines how likely you are to be accepted for a particular card, as well as your likely credit limit and interest rate. It uses what’s known as a “soft” or “smart” search, which won’t affect your credit score.

However, when you make your application in full, a “hard search” will be carried out, which leaves a mark on your credit report, regardless if the application is approved or rejected. Making many applications in a short time could have a detrimental effect on your credit score and dissuade lenders from offering you credit.

Once you have performed an eligibility check (if available) and have the necessary details to hand, you can begin your online application. This should only take around 10 to 15 minutes.

After you’ve submitted your application, you should receive your response within 60 seconds. You’ll either be approved, rejected or left pending if the bank needs to investigate your application in further detail.

Credit cards for applicants with bad credit

You’ll only receive instant approval for a credit card if you meet the eligibility requirements and provide all the relevant information. Not having a qualifying credit score or not meeting the eligibility requirements (e.g., minimum income, residency status) will bar you from approval.

Bad credit history can potentially be fixed. You can work on improving your credit score or consider an alternative specifically for applicants with bad credit.

What to do if your credit card application is declined

If your application is rejected, you shouldn’t apply for another credit card straight away. Applying for several credit cards in a short period, whether they’re rejected or not, leaves marks on your credit file that can further damage your credit score.

Instead, you might want to try the following:

  1. Review eligibility requirements.
  2. Review your credit score and credit history by getting in contact with one of the CRAs (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion).
  3. Contact the provider if you can’t narrow down the reasons you weren’t approved.
  4. Spend time improving your credit history or comparing other credit cards.
  5. Apply for another credit card after a few months to give time for credit score rehabilitation.

Bottom line

Instant decision credit cards can speed up the application process, but this shouldn’t be the only factor you consider when choosing a credit card. Make sure you’ve looked at all the card’s features to be sure it’s offering the benefits you need and that the interest rate is competitive. You’ll also need to be sure you meet the eligibility criteria.

Finder survey: How many credit cards do you have?

Response
One32.95%
None!32.07%
Two19.38%
Three7.75%
Four4.07%
Prefer not to say3.29%
5 or more0.48%
Source: Finder survey by Censuswide of Brits, December 2023

Frequently asked questions

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We show offers we can track - that's not every product on the market...yet. Unless we've said otherwise, products are in no particular order. The terms "best", "top", "cheap" (and variations of these) aren't ratings, though we always explain what's great about a product when we highlight it. This is subject to our terms of use. When you make major financial decisions, consider getting independent financial advice. Always consider your own circumstances when you compare products so you get what's right for you.

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