- You get approved today but don’t get the card until later.
- You get approved today and can instantly begin using your new credit line.
You will not see any of the major credit card issuers giving you instant approval to use the card today. However, at least 3 credit card companies claim they might give you an instant decision on your application, allowing you to know if you’ve been approved or whether you should apply elsewhere:
- American Express – Most every credit card and charge card on the American Express Web site includes the message “Get a decision in as little as 60 seconds.”
- Capital One – Although Capital One does not make a big to-do about it, within the FAQ section of their site we found this statement: “Capital One will attempt to provide a decision in 60 seconds or less.”
“As little as…”
You may notice that none of the card companies listed above is saying that it is guaranteed that you will receive instant approval or even that you will receive an instant decision, but they’d like you to know that you could. In our experience, the better your credit history, the more likely it is that you will receive instant approval, although you still won’t actually get your card and be able to use it for one or two weeks. If your credit is bad, you might have to wait on a decision, or your instant decision may be a quick “NO”.
Apply and Use Your Card Today
If your idea of instant approval means you get to start making purchases the same day you apply, your only real option is to apply for store-branded credit cards. First, our experience tells us that many retail stores want you to sign up for their cards so badly that they will have you fill out an application and get you approved while you are standing at the checkout counter.
Online, this is less clear, although in some cases, such as the Best Buy Credit Card application which clearly states “Apply now and buy today”, you know that you’re good to go if you have good enough credit to be approved. Other store credit cards do not trumpet instant approval, but their online marketing certainly suggests it. For example:
- The Walmart Credit Card promotes “Save $25 when you open a Walmart Credit Card and spend $75 today.”
- The GAP, Banana Republic, and Old Navy credit cards have a “Get A Card” button with text that states “Save 15% Today”.
- The JCPenney Credit Card has a promotion “Save 20% Today” tied to its credit card application page, suggesting instant approval.
- The Barnes & Noble MasterCard application states “Get a 30-Second Decision”
Whether being approved for a credit card in an instant is really in your best interests is of course debatable, but it definitely can be done.