Instant approval credit cards give you a decision immediately after you apply, within minutes or even seconds. Even though instant approval is very desirable, there are a few key mistakes that people make with instant approval credit cards that end up hurting them financially.
1. Not Realizing That Most Credit Cards Offer the Chance of Instant Approval
Instant approval is far from rare, as most credit cards offer the possibility of being approved right away. Therefore, you shouldn’t pick one card over another just because one advertises instant approval. There’s a good chance the card that doesn’t advertise it also could approve you instantly.
When picking a credit card, factors like annual fees, APRs and rewards are more important.
2. Prioritizing Instant Approval if You Don’t Need the Card Right Away
Instant approval is useful because it gets your credit card mailed to you as soon as possible. However, if you’re not in any particular hurry to get a credit card, it’s more of a bonus than something you should make a priority.
If you don’t get instant approval, it’s common to get approved within a few days after applying, and it usually won’t take more than 7 to 10 business days. That’s not an especially long time to wait if you’re not in a rush.
3. Assuming Instant Approval Means Instant Use
Instant approval just means that you have immediately qualified for the card and now have an account with the issuer. However, in the vast majority of cases, you will not be able to use your credit card right away.
Some credit card issuers may give you your credit card information to use for online purchases before the card arrives, but that’s not common. In other cases, certain co-branded credit cards will allow you to make a single purchase with the partnered merchant, after which you’ll have to wait for the card to come in the mail to make any further purchases. It usually takes 7 to 10 business days for a credit card to arrive after approval.
4. Thinking Instant Approval Is Guaranteed
Most credit cards offer the possibility of instant approval, but none of them guarantee it. Even credit cards that have very low credit score requirements still may not approve you instantly. That’s because all kinds of things can delay the approval process, such as incomplete or incorrect information on the application, or difficulties with the issuer’s computer system.
You’ll have the best chances of instant approval if your credit score well exceeds the card’s minimum score requirement, you have a high income, and you’ve thoroughly checked over your application to make sure everything is accurate.
5. Not Applying for the Credit Card Online or In-Store
Applying for a credit card online is the most streamlined application method, and it will give you the greatest chance of getting approved instantly. Applying over the phone is a bit slower because you have to go through a company representative first. Naturally, submitting an application by mail will not get you instant approval because you’ll have to wait for the application to arrive at the issuer.
If you’re interested in a store credit card, applying at the register is also a way to get an instant decision. You may even be able to immediately use the card for the purchase you’re making, though you’ll have to wait for the card to come in the mail before making any additional purchases.
6. Not Checking Your Credit Score or Getting Pre-Approved First
If you don’t check your credit score before applying for a credit card, you run the risk of submitting an application for a card with too high of a credit score requirement. If that happens, you’re more likely to be rejected and you will have to apply for a different card, greatly delaying the process. Plus, you’ll have to deal with the credit score damage from two hard pulls in close proximity if you don’t wait six months to a year before applying for the second card.
It’s also ideal to get pre-approved for a credit card before you apply, if the issuer offers that option. If you’re pre-approved, your odds of approval are very high, so that increases the likelihood that you will receive instant approval.