All information about the Green Dot primor® Visa® Gold Secured Credit Card and the UNITY® Visa Secured Credit Card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com. The issuer did not provide the content, nor is it responsible for its accuracy.
A guide to instant approval credit cards
In some cases, you may get preapproved for a card, sometimes by mail. But there are a few things to know about these offers, and they may not be what you think. We’ve gathered our top cards for instant approval and the information you should know before going through the speedy process.
Comparing the best instant approval credit cards
|Card||Our Favorite Feature||Annual Fee|
|Self — Credit Builder Account||Improving credit||One-time $9 – $15 account fee (varies by product)|
|OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card||No credit check needed||$35|
|Green Dot primor® Visa® Gold Secured Credit Card||High credit lines||$49|
|UNITY® Visa Secured Credit Card||No minimum credit score required||$39|
Editor’s picks: Instant approval credit card details
Self – Credit Builder Account: Best for improving credit
Why we picked it: You’ll know almost instantaneously whether you’re approved for this account and you won’t face a hard pull on your credit. And for its best credit-boosting perk, this account will report your habits to all three credit bureaus – just know it’s a little different than a traditional credit card.
Pros: Through this unique account, Self will set you up with a small loan that’ll be saved in a CD for 12 or 24 months, and at the end of the account term your CD savings will unlock. Similar to a savings account, but with the ability to build credit, you pay a minimum of $25 a month toward the CD each month. By the end of the account term, healthy habits and on-time payments should make strong contributions to growing your credit score.
Cons: This account doesn’t feature any ways to earn on your spending or bonus rewards. Also, there is a one-time account fee of up to $15.
Who should apply? Those looking for easy approval who want to focus on establishing a credit score with a set routine are a great match for this account.
Who should skip? Anyone looking for a rewards card should look elsewhere. And if you’re a credit beginner who would prefer to learn with the experience of actually swiping the card, consider Self’s option with the Self – Credit Builder Account + Secured Visa® Credit Card or any other secured card.
Read our Self – Credit Builder Account review.
OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card: Best for no credit check needed
Why we picked it: On top of instant approval, there’s no credit check with this card – significantly increasing your chance at being approved.
Pros: The initial refundable deposit you make to secure the card (starting at $200) will serve as your credit limit, putting you in some control. It also comes with basic Visa benefits, such as $0 fraud liability.
Cons: This card comes with an annual fee of $35 per year and doesn’t provide a way to earn rewards.
Who should apply? If your credit is an obstacle to getting approved for a card, this secured option can be a great stepping stone to a high-end card. The simple approval process and lack of credit check make it extremely accessible.
Who should skip? If you’re on the hunt for earning rewards, this isn’t the card for you. Also, credit newcomers who don’t have the ability to secure a card with a deposit should look to other credit cards for bad credit.
Read our OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card review.
Green Dot primor® Visa® Gold Secured Credit Card: Best for high credit lines
Why we picked it: This card not only features instant approval and a low APR coming in at only 9.99% (fixed), you’ll also have the ability to have a credit line as high as $5,000. A high credit line allows for financial freedom and will improve your credit score through helping your utilization.
Pros: There’s no credit check when applying for this card, making it an easy and accessible process. And thanks to it being a Visa card, this option comes with travel accident insurance, extended warranties and a travel and emergency hotline.
Cons: This card restricts you when it comes to getting started; you can’t set up your account with a deposit from an ACH bank transfer (a common practice). You’ll have to set up online with a debit card, mail in check or money order. Also, this card comes with a $49 annual fee.
Who should apply? Credit card newcomers looking for a way to grow their score with a high credit line would benefit from this card. Also, if you know you’re going to be forced to carry an occasional balance, this card’s low APR makes it a great choice.
Who should skip? If you’re looking for an easy card to get started with, this may be difficult due to the limitations around the initial deposit. Also, this is a bad choice for anyone looking for rewards cards.
UNITY® Visa Secured Credit Card: Best for no minimum credit score required
Why we picked it: There is no requirement when it comes to credit score and applying for this card. You’ll have to get started with a minimum deposit of $250, but being approved instantly can ease the process.
Pros: This card has an unusual feature for its type of a six-month balance transfer rate of 9.95% APR, although you’ll need to consider if it’s better to put the refundable deposit toward the amount already owed. This card also comes with the credit-building feature of reporting your monthly habits to the three credit bureaus, an awesome perk for improving your score.
Cons: The UNITY Visa Secured has a relatively high APR for a card of its type (17.99%, fixed) and comes with a $39 annual fee.
Who should apply? If you’re looking for a card to simultaneously grow your credit with proper habits while having the opportunity to consolidate outstanding credit card debt, this card could be your safe haven.
Who should skip? If you think there’s any chance you won’t be able to manage your outstanding balance, there are better cards out there.
What is an instant approval credit card?
With an instant approval credit card, you can learn within minutes whether you are accepted as a cardmember.
A preliminary credit check is run, and the better your credit score, the more likely you will be granted the card.
Then, you are granted conditional approval, once the lender gets your score and approves your file, and a more thorough check of your file is conducted. Heads up that instant approval isn’t a guarantee that you will be accepted.
As tempting as an instant approval offer might be, it’s important to shop around. Look at the fees and the features – you don’t want to choose the first card you find.
Is there such a thing as guaranteed instant approval?
No, however, you can increase the likelihood of acceptance by checking your credit score and the score the card requires before applying. Also, you can use a tool like our CardMatch™ tool to assess which cards you could be a good fit for before you apply.
What is the difference between preapproval and prequalify?
Prequalification is when you provide information to a lender and they conduct a “soft pull” or a credit check that doesn’t affect your score. The advantage is that you have an idea of whether your application will be accepted before you formally apply (even if you are pre-qualified for a card this is still not a guarantee that you will be approved when you apply). When you formally apply, a “hard pull” is conducted, meaning your score is slightly affected. It’s a necessary process for a formal application.
Elements of prequalification
- You initiate the application.
- Your credit isn’t impacted unless you formally apply.
- This is not a firm offer – the lender may decide not to grant you the line of credit once your application is formally reviewed.
Preapproval means a lender has looked at your data and decided to extend a conditional offer to you. To be accepted, you have to formally apply.
Elements of preapproval
- The lender initiates preapproval.
- This doesn’t affect your credit score unless you formally apply.
- This is a firm offer of credit unless there is a dramatic difference in your credit or if your income can’t be verified.
What if you don’t want to apply?
Once you apply, you could be offered another offer, or you could even be rejected. If you don’t want the card, be sure to shred the preapproval because there can be personal information printed on it, such as your name and address.
Want to opt out of prequalifying offers? Call (888) 567-8688 or visit optoutprescreen.com.
Can applying for a credit card hurt your credit score?
While preapprovals and prequalifications of cards don’t affect your credit score until you formally apply, when you do apply, your score is impacted by about 5 points. That’s why it’s important to know your score ahead of time and only apply when you have a high likelihood of acceptance.
Pros and cons of an instant approval credit card
Pros of instant approval credit cards
- Improve your credit.Checking if you’ll be approved won’t hurt your credit score, and once you’ve obtained a card you can take the steps to help that score grow. Managing your spending and making proper on-time payments will better your credit thanks to the cards here reporting your habits to the major credit bureaus.
- Easy access. Some of the cards mentioned here don’t require a credit check to be approved, so you’ll likely have no problem becoming a cardholder no matter your credit score. The low barriers of entry makes instant approval options a viable credit-building tool for nearly anyone.
- Don’t worry about waiting. True to their name, some of the cards here will give you a good idea of whether or not you can become a cardholder in a matter of minutes. The fast process can be a breath of fresh air when looking for a convenient way to spend.
Cons of instant approval credit cards
- Lack of benefits. Instant approval card providers undergo a little extra risk by accepting users with credit scores of all kinds, so they typically have less perks and add-ons than most traditional cards.
- Low rewards. Being designed for credit-building and those who don’t have many choices when it comes to getting a credit card, the options here don’t feature strong rewards structures. Once you’ve improved your credit with a secured card, student card or one of these choices above, the top rewards cards will be within reach.
- Heavy fees. Most instant approval cards don’t avoid any typical fees. Most cards will come with a monthly charge or annual fee, plus there’s cash advance fees, late payment and returned payment fees, foreign transaction fees, inactive account fees and more.
How to choose an instant approval credit card
Who should get an instant approval credit card
- The credit-builder. If you’re committed to the idea of using a credit card and starting your journey to a good credit score, an instant approval credit card is a fast and easy way to get started. The cards here are accessible to people from all financial backgrounds and will help you build your credit score along the way.
- The low-options user. Someone who’s dealt with bankruptcy, debt or anything else that causes a low credit score could benefit from the ease of access with instant approval cards. If your choice of cards is slim, a card that doesn’t run a credit check and will assist you in building your score could be a good choice.
Who should skip an instant approval credit card
- The rewards hunter. Shoppers looking for worthwhile rewards, bonuses and limited-time offers will have to look elsewhere. Traditional credit cards with strong rewards often require good credit, but will add a little value with every swipe.
- The travel spender. Someone looking to turn their purchases into hotel stays, flights and other vacation itinerary items should explore travel cards. The top choices can get you free checked bags, high rewards rates, exclusive stays and more.
- The family shopper. Parents who spend a lot at the grocery store, gas station or restaurants should look to other cards that will reward you for your typical purchases. Cash back cards, gas cards and other rewards cards can sometimes be accessible to those with low credit scores.
How long does it take to get approved for a credit card?
When you apply for a credit card, you are required to fill out an application that’s typically a page long that includes personal information including name, address and Social Security number as well as income, income source and monthly housing payments.
When you hit the apply button, one of several things can happen. You can be approved within minutes, it can go into “pending,” or you can be rejected. If you don’t want to wait the week to find out the answer when it goes into pending, you can call customer service and have the agent gather more details to make a decision then and there. Otherwise, you’ll get an answer in the mail, and possibly your card.
Reasons you might be denied
If you are rejected for a credit card, the card issuer must give you the reason why. Other than a credit score that is too low, the reasons can be:
- High credit utilization ratio. When you are using most or all of your available credit, that can be a sign that you are living on credit and that the card you are applying for is for furthering that debt.
- Thin credit file. If this happens, your best bet is getting a secured card or becoming an authorized user.
- Too many hard inquiries. When you have a bunch of requests for credit in a short amount of time, it can appear to lenders that you are desperate for credit.
- Bank-specific application requirements. Some issuers, such as Chase, have requirements for how many cards you can get in a certain amount of time.
- Too much credit with the same bank. If a bank sees that you have too much credit on multiple cards, you can be denied.
- Identity or other details can’t be confirmed. If this occurs, call the bank. Also, if you have a checking or savings account with the bank, you can ask that that information be used to confirm your information.
- Recent negative items on credit reports. Although issues such as late payments and bankruptcies can influence your application, know that the older these negative events, the less they are important.
- Income too low. That said, as tempting as it may be, don’t lie about this because that’s considered fraud.
- Too young to apply. You must be at least 18 to apply for your own card.
- Errors on application. If this happens, call the issuer and see if you can rectify the situation.
Although there are a number of reasons why you might be rejected, the biggest factor is your credit score. The better your score, the more likely you will be accepted. Below is looking at FICO scores on a scale of 300 to 850, with 850 as the best, and an estimated likelihood that you’d be approved:
How likely you will be approved for a card…
- If you are superprime, or with a 720+ FICO score
- If you are prime, or with a FICO score of 660-719
- If you are subprime, or with a score under 659
CFPB survey 2021
What do credit card companies check when they process your application?
Card issuers vary in what they check when you apply for a credit card. In addition to what you provide, they will check your credit. Be prepared when applying, you’ll have to provide a plethora of basic information such as your name, phone, date of birth, address, and income, as well as some deeper-level details such as your liquid assets, Social Security number, mother’s maiden name, citizenship status and more.
Who should apply for a credit card?
Want to apply, but not sure if you should? A credit card can be a tool to unlock additional financial freedom, access to a convenient way to pay and a multitude of savings opportunities. If you have low credit and are hesitant, growing your credit score with a credit card can be one of the best ways to get established. Whether you have excellent credit or poor credit, there are bountiful reasons why a credit card can be a valuable addition to your wallet.
Someone who wants to build credit
While you might think that a credit card can hurt your credit, particularly if you are uncertain about paying on time, cards are actually an excellent way to build credit.
Pro Tip: Worried about paying on time? Use the Gmail Snooze tool to remind you.
Someone who wants to pay down a large expense
If you have an upcoming medical charge or other large expense, a 0% intro APR card is a good way to pay without interest.
Pro Tip: Plan ahead and choose a card with rewards that you can use down the road.
Someone interested in transferring a balance from another card
Say you have a sizeable balance on an older card. Rather than paying interest each month, you can transfer the debt to a balance transfer card and pay less interest or avoid it altogether.
Pro Tip: Plan to keep and use the card after the debt is paid off, because the available credit indirectly benefits your credit score.
Someone who wants to earn rewards
With the right rewards card, you can earn cash back, miles or points for your everyday spending.
Pro Tip: Look at the possibility of using multiple rewards cards for your spending.
Someone looking for member perks and travel benefits
Hotel and airline cards offer many travel-specific benefits, including upgrades and conveniences, such as priority boarding and late check-out.
Pro Tip: Map out which airports you tend to fly out of and into to decide the best cards for your wallet.
What’s the difference between instant approval and instant use credit cards?
Instant approval credit cards can tell you whether your application is conditionally approved or denied within minutes of submitting your application. Instant use credit cards provide your credit card number digitally upon approval so that you can immediately begin using your card. This way, you don’t need to wait for your card to arrive in the mail to start making purchases. Keep in mind, however, that you may need to wait a few days to hear whether you’re approved or denied for an instant use card.
What is the quickest credit card to get?
Application processing times can vary between situations, so it’s tricky to say which credit card is the quickest to obtain. Your best bet for gaining access to credit quickly is either an instant approval or instant use card. In any case, you’ll probably have to wait a few days to be approved or for your card to arrive in the mail.
While it’s gratifying to receive instant approval in the short term, you’ll want to make sure that the other card features check your boxes as well. Features like the annual fee, interest rate and rewards rate can affect you financially.
How we picked the best instant approval credit cards
We evaluated a selection of credit cards for instant approval to identify the top products available. The criteria we considered in our analysis include:
- Credit-building features: We found cards that would reward your good habits and eventually lead to a better credit score. Regular reporting to credit bureaus and other credit-savvy perks come with several options here.
- Affordability: In order to get going with instant approval cards, it often requires an initial fee or regular charges. We tried to find the most user-friendly cost structures to help shoppers save.
- Accessibility: We wanted to be sure to find cards that accepted users of all kinds, so we searched for instant approval cards that were lenient in who they’ll take on as a cardholder.
Other criteria considered: Annual fee, regular APR, promotional APR (if any), ease of application process, rewards rates, ability to improve credit line, tools to track credit score, customer service, security, other features and benefits.