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Comparing 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. Here, we look at:
Whatever your reason for applying for a credit card, we’ll answer your most pressing questions.
Details on the best instant approval credit cards
Self Lender – Credit Builder Account
For consumers who need to improve their score but don’t have the file to get a credit card, the Self Lender product is an option. Similar to a savings account, but with the ability to build credit, you pay a minimum of $25 a month toward a certificate of deposit for a minimum of 12 months. For example, you might pay $25 for 24 months, and get $525 back at the end of that period, with the added bonus of having a string of on-time payments sent to the 3 major credit bureaus.
Where can this account take you? If you are concerned that your credit is too weak for a credit card or you have issues with budgeting, this is a good account to get. No hard credit pull and no credit history are needed.
OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
There is no credit check with this card, dramatically increasing the likelihood that you will be accepted. After 6 months, your credit files are established and you can build your credit. Because it’s a Visa, millions of merchants will accept your card.
Where can this account take you? You get to choose the amount of your refundable deposit, starting at $200, and that dictates your credit limit.
Horizon Gold Card
With no credit check and no employment check, the Horizon Gold Card offers an opening credit line of $500. Not a credit or debit card, this product can only be used to shop at shop.thehorizonoutlet.com. While it advertises a 0% APR, there are a host of fees, including an “account validation” fee and an “outlet store delivery signature verification” fee, so make sure you are clear about what is expected of you.
Where can this account take you? Heads up that this card has a minimum $25 monthly fee, which comes to about $300 a year. However, it’s an unsecured card, which is helpful if you don’t have cash on hand for a secured deposit.
Green Dot primor® Visa® Gold Secured Credit Card
If you are willing to plunk down the refundable deposit, you can get a credit limit of up to $5,000 with this card. No minimum credit score is required, and all credit types are invited to apply, including no and limited credit.
Where can this account take you? This card’s rock-bottom 9.99% APR is a rarity in part because it is fixed and in part because it is below 10%.
UNITY® Visa Secured Credit Card
This card accepts bad to fair credit and no minimum credit score is required. A minimum deposit of $250 is required and the APR is fixed at 17.99%.
Where can this account take you? This card has an unusual feature for its type of a 6-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.
What is instant approval and how does it work?
With an instant approval credit card, you can learn within minutes whether you are accepted as a card member.
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 are 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. 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
1. You initiate the application.
2. Your credit isn’t impacted unless you formally apply.
3. 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
1. The lender initiates preapproval.
2. This doesn’t affect your credit score unless you formally apply.
3. 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.
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, that 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 300-850, with 850 as the best:
How likely you will be approved for a card…If you are superprime, or with a 720+ FICO score 85.5%If you are prime, or with a FICO score of 660-719 58.7%If you are subprime, or with a score under 659 17.1%
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. Here is some of the information they might ask for:
- Years at address
- Whether you own or rent
- Monthly housing payment
- Income source
- Liquid assets
- Whether you have a bank account
- Type of bank account
- Date of birth
- Social Security number
- Mother’s maiden name
- U.S. citizenship
- Dual citizenship
Who should apply for a credit card?
Want to apply, but not sure if you should? The New York Federal Reserve found that younger people with lower credit scores are more likely to apply. While 34.8% of consumers with a score of less than 680 applied in the 12 months preceding June 2018, only 21.3% who had a score of at least 760 applied. Also, 36.4% of consumers 40 and under applied during that period, while only 18.9% of consumers 60 and over applied.
But no matter your age, there are a number of reasons why you might want to apply for a credit card.
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.
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.
Transfer a balance
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.
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.
Use for 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.
Summary of the best instant approval credit cards of 2020
|Card||Our Favorite Feature||Annual Fee|
|OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card||No credit check needed||$35|
|Horizon Gold Card||Fast approval||$24.95 auto-debited monthly|
|primor® Secured Visa® Gold Card||High credit lines||$49|
|UNITY® Visa Secured Credit Card||No minimum credit score required||$39|