Ah, getting a new credit card…

There’s a lot you have to think about – what kind of rewards you want, the annual fee you’re willing to pay, and what (if any) perks may be of interest to you.

So wouldn’t it be nice to know if you’re approved for that new credit card right away? That’s where instant approval comes in.

Here’s everything you need to know about instant approval, and the best credit cards that offer it.

What is instant approval

Before going into the cards, let’s define what instant approval is.

You head to the issuer’s website, select the card you want to apply for, provide all the information the issuer is asking of you, and submit your application.

On the next screen, if you’re told your application was successful and you’ve been approved, then the credit card offered instant approval.

Basically, there’s no waiting for something in the mail to arrive, letting you know if you’ve been accepted or not.

Things to remember

Instant approval is all well and good, but just because a card offers it, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get it.

If they can’t verify your identity, or there’s a processing error on their end, you may not get instantly approved. You’ll know that your application was successfully submitted, and they’ll generally send you a letter in the mail if you were denied, or to let you know what information you’ll need to provide to get your application approved.

And even if you are instantly approved, you won’t be able to use your credit card until it actually arrives in the mail, even for online purchases. One exception is the Apple Card, which you can start using it right away.

Instant approval by credit card issuers

So what credit card issuers provide instant approval?

Most of the major U.S. credit card companies offer. They include:

Many of these credit cards issuers also provide free credit score monitoring as well.

Who offers free credit card monitoring

Best instant approval credit cards

So, here are the best credit cards that offer instant approval, by required credit score.

Credit scores range from 300 to 850. We’ve grouped many top credit cards, based on where they fall in one of these subsets:

What is a good credit score?

Best instant approval credit cards for bad credit

Is your credit score less than 579? There won’t be much out there for you besides secured credit cards.

And even though your application can be approved instantly, nothing happens with regards to secured credit cards until you’ve made your security deposit.

Here are the best secured credit cards available.

Credit Card

Earn Rates Annual Fee
N/A $0
N/A $0
* 2% cash back on gas and restaurants, up to $1000 per quarter
* 1% cash back on all other purchases
$0
N/A $29

Related: How To Get ‒ And Keep ‒ A Good Credit Score

Best instant approval credit cards for fair credit

In the fair credit range, between 580 to 669, there still won’t be many choices for you to consider.

However, if you’re a student, this is all you’ll need to get yourself a credit card. Here are the top student credit cards that offer instant approval.

Credit Card Earn Rates Annual Fee
* 3% cash back on gas
* 2% cash back at grocery stores (up to $2,500 per quarter)
* 1% cash back on all other purchases
$0
* 5% cash back on rotating categories, $1,500 per quarter
* 1% cash back on all other purchases
$0
* 1% on all purchases
* boosted to 1.25% when your bill is paid on time
$0
* 2% cash back on rotating categories, up to $1,000 per quarter
* 1% cash back on all purchases
$0

Related: I’m A Student With No Credit. What Are The Best Credit Cards For Me?

Capital One does offer a couple of cards that are designed for those with low credit scores.

Credit Card Earn Rates Annual Fee
* 1.5% cash back on all purchases $39
N/A $0

Best instant approval credit cards for good credit

Once your credit score lands in the good range, from 670 to 739, that’s when the options start to open up.

In fact, over half of the credit cards we track have a credit score requirement in this range.

Here are our favorite credit cards that fall within this range, by category.

Best cash back credit cards that require good credit

Credit Card Earn Rates Annual Fee
* 4% cash back on dining and entertainment
* 2% cash back on groceries
* 1% cash back on all purchases
$95
* 6% cash back at grocery stores, up to $6,000 annual spend
* 6% on select streaming services
* 3% cash back at US gas stations and transit
* 1% cash back on all other purchases
$95
* 1.5% cash back on all purchases $0
* 5% cash back on rotating categories, up to $1,500 per quarter
* 1% cash back on all other purchases
$0
* 1% cash back on all purchases
* An additional 1% cash back when you pay your bill
$0
* 1.5% cash back on all purchases $0
* 2% cash back back all purchases $0

Best flexible rewards credit cards that require good credit

Credit Card Earn Rates Annual Fee
* 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases $0
* 5 points per $1 on prepaid hotels booked at amextravel.com
* 5 points per $1 spent for flights booked directly with airlines
* 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
$550
* 2 points per $1 spent on all purchases $95
* 3 points per $1 spent on gas, rideshares, transit, travel (including homestays), and streaming services
* 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
$0
* 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases $0

Best travel rewards credit cards that require good credit

Credit Card Earn Rates Annual Fee
* 2 miles per $1 spent on American Airlines, restaurants & gas
* 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
$99
* 2 miles per $1 spent on restaurants, groceries, and delta.com
* 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
$99
* 12 points per $1 spent at Hilton properties
* 6 points per $1 spent at US restaurants, US gas stations, and US supermarkets
* 3 points per $1 spent on all other purchases
$95
* 3 points per $1 spent on Air France, KLM, and SkyTeam airlines
* 1.5 points per $1 spent on all other purchases
$89
* 3 points per $1 spent on JetBlue
* 2 points per $1 spent on dining & groceries
* 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
$0
* 6 points per $1 spent at Marriott properties
* 2 points per $1 spent on all other purchases
$95

Best instant approval credit cards for very good credit

Have a very good credit score between 740 to 799?

Your choice of cards opens up even more. Here are some of our top cards that fall within this credit score requirement range – and of course you’ll also likely qualify for all previously mentioned cards.

Credit Card Earn Rates Annual Fee
* 5% cash back on uber & and uberEATS
* 3% cash back on restaurants, hotels, and airfare
* 1% cash back on all other purchases
$0
* 3 points per $1 spent with Amtrak
* 2 points per $1 spent on travel purchases
* 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
$79
* 4 points per $1 spent at Hyatt hotels
* 2 points per $1 spent on restaurants, airline tickets, transit, fitness clubs, and gym memberships
* 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
$95
* 3 points per $1 spent on travel and restaurants
* 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
$150
* 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest Airlines
* 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
$149
* 3 points per $1 spent at US supermarkets, up to $6,000 per year
* 2 points per $1 spent at US gas stations
* 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
$95

Best instant approval credit cards for excellent credit

If you have excellent credit, with a score above 800, you can pretty much have any credit card you desire.

However, of all the credit cards we track, only a handful require this level of credit, and they’re all from Citi.

Credit Card Earn Rates Annual Fee
* 3 points per $1 spent on travel and gas stations
* 2 points per $1 spent on dining & entertainment
* 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
$95
* 2 miles per $1 spent on American Airlines
* 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
$450
* 5 points per $1 on restaurants and air travel
* 3 points per $1 spent on cruises and hotels
* 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
$495
* 2 points per $1 spent on gas and groceries
* 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
$0

Best store credit cards that offer instant approval

Are there any store branded credit cards that offer instant approval? You bet there are.

If they’re issued by the major issuers we’ve listed, they’ll also have instant approval as well.

Here are the top store-branded credit cards that offer instant approval.

Credit Card Earn Rates Annual Fee
* 4% cash back on gas, up to $7,000 per year
* 3% cash back on restaurants and travel
* 2% cash back at Costco and costco.com
* 1% cash back on all other purchases
$0
* 3% back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods
* 2% back on restaurants, gas, & drugstores
* 1% back on all other purchases
$0
* 5% back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods
* 2% back on restaurants, gas, & drugstores
* 1% back on all other purchases
$0
* 3 Bonus Stars for every $1 spent at Starbucks
* 1 Bonus Star for every $2 spent on groceries and transit
* 1 Bonus Star for every $4 spent on all other purchases
$49

How to determine credit score requirements

So how can you find out which credit cards you can actually qualify for, based on your credit score?

Our compare cards page is here to help. One of the sliders you can adjust is “Your Credit Score.”

Expand the “More Options” settings box, and you can filter what cards you can qualify for based on your credit score.

Compare credit cards page slider settings

Your turn

Instant approval is great when applying for a credit card.

You’ll get the satisfaction of knowing whether or not you’re going to get that new credit card right then and there.

Any stories to share about getting instant approval for a credit card?