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 two. 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 will depend 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.
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, have 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 will depend 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 Usually, these offers are made using limited or out-of-date information about your financial history.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 all depends on the card provider’s criteria. Typically, people with good to excellent credit scores have a strong chance of instant approval. However, people with low credit scores may also 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.
How to apply for an instant approval credit card in 4 steps
To improve your chance of instant approval for a credit card, there are a few steps you’ll need to take to make sure you’ve completed your application properly.
- Compare your options.
- Check the eligibility requirements.
- Collect the necessary documents and information.
- 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 the fact that you could potentially receive fast approval, make 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 take into account 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 at all if you don’t meet the eligibility requirements. Some of the criteria you’ll be expected to meet includes:
- Good credit history. Most banks only accept applicants who 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 who are 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. 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.
To ensure a smooth and quick application process, make sure you have these details on hand before you begin your application.
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 your chance of success in being approved for a particular card, as well as your likely credit limit and interest rate. This is known as a “soft” or “smart” search, which will not impact on your credit score. However, once you make a proper application, this is known as a “hard search” which leaves a mark on your credit report, regardless if the application is approved or rejected. Making many applications in a short space of time, could have a detrimental effect on your credit score and could 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, if the bank needs to investigate your application in further detail, left pending.
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 of the relevant information. Not having a qualifying credit score or being unable to meet the eligibility requirements (eg minimum income, residency status) will bar you from approval.
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:
- Review eligibility requirements.
- Review your credit score and credit history by getting in contact with one of the credit reference agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion).
- Contact the provider if you can’t narrow down the reasons why you weren’t approved.
- Spend time improving your credit history or comparing other credit cards.
- Apply for another credit card after a few months to give time for credit score rehabilitation.
Frequently asked questions
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