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Instant Approval Credit Cards: What You Need To Know

12 min read
Brendan Harkness By Brendan Harkness Aug 02, 2018 | Updated Mar 27, 2020

Do you need access to a new card and credit line as soon as possible? No time to wait for an application process that could take a week or more?

Luckily, there are instant approval credit cards that might be just what you’re looking for. However, instant approval cards are a mixed bag.

“Instant approval” is actually more like “instant decision” in reality. The card issuer may decide to reject you instantly, if you don’t meet the requirements for that card. And then there are “guaranteed approval” credit cards, which are a bit different altogether.

Insider tip

Instant approval does not mean you’ll necessarily have immediate access to your card. You’ll typically still need to wait until it arrives in the mail. However, some credit card companies may provide you with instant credit card numbers as soon as you’re approved, which you can use to make online purchases.

What Are Instant Approval Credit Cards?

There are two basic types of instant approval cards:

  • Regular credit cards: Almost every credit card offers an instant approval option — depending on your creditworthiness.
  • “Guaranteed approval” credit cards: Some subprime credit cards, designed for people with bad or no credit, offer “guaranteed approvals” without a credit check.

When it comes to just about every credit card, if you meet the credit and income requirements you have a good chance of being approved right when you apply.

Sometimes a credit card application will require more review. Maybe there’s a questionable item on your credit reports, or your address couldn’t be completely verified. If that happens it could take a few days to a couple weeks before you get a decision.

The truth is there’s only a possibility of instant approval or instant decision.

If you have excellent or even just good credit scores, you’ll find that most cards will end up being “instant approval” for you. The better your credit, the more likely you are to be approved fast.

It’s not all about credit scores, though. Higher-end cards, like premium travel credit cards that offer points or miles, usually require higher incomes for approval. And each card issuer has its own specific requirements as well.

A great way to check your approval odds is to look for pre-approved credit card offers, also called pre-qualified offers. If you pre-qualify for an offer, it indicates that the card issuer thinks you have a very high likelihood of approval. It doesn’t mean you’ll definitely be approved, however. You can use pre-approved offers to get an idea of the types of credit cards you’ll qualify for.

Insider tip

Trying to get a credit card as soon as possible? Take a look at The Easiest Credit Cards to Get For Every Credit Score, and see if you’re pre-qualified for any of them.

Check out how Amex and Capital One explain their instant approval features. These examples are pretty typical of how most card issuers handle it. You can sometimes find these details in card applications.

American Express FAQ on instant approval.

American Express’ FAQ on instant approval.

 

Capital One's FAQ on instant approval.

Capital One’s FAQ on instant approval.

Instant Approval Credit Cards

If you don’t have good credit you won’t qualify for the better cash back and travel cards. But everything about instant approvals above still applies to credit cards for fair credit and bad credit.

Here are some of our picks for the best instant approval cards for fair or average credit, followed by cards for bad or no credit.

Insider tip

Looking for a wider selection? Check out our picks for the Best Credit Cards in a variety of different categories.

Instant Approval Cards for Fair or Average Credit

Best for Flat-Rate Cash Back

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

Our rating
Min. credit levelLimited Credit History
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR26.99% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Earn 1% cash back on all your purchases. Pay on time to boost your cash back to a total of 1.25% for that month
  • Enjoy no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Get a head start and build your credit with responsible use
  • Get Eno®, your Capital One® assistant, to manage your account via text, receive alerts, and shop safer online
  • Pick the monthly due date that works best for you
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • $0 fraud liability if your card is ever lost or stolen
  • Monitor your credit profile with the CreditWise® app, free for everyone

The information related to Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

Key Terms & Features

  • Anyone can apply, student or not
  • 1% cash back for every purchase
    • 1.25% cash back when you pay on time
  • No annual fee

Read more in our Review of the Capital One Journey Student Credit Card

 

Best for Transferring a Balance

Chase Slate®

Chase Slate®

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR16.49%–25.24% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Free DoorDash membership (DashPass; gets you free delivery and reduced service fees on orders over $12 and up) for three months, and then a 50% discount for the following nine months
  • 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers. After that, 16.99%—25.74% variable APR.
  • No balance transfer fee for the first 60 days your account is open. After that, the fee for future transactions is 5% of the amount transferred with a minimum of $5.
  • Monitor your VantageScore 3.0 credit score, based on your TransUnion credit report.
  • No annual fee.

Key Terms & Features

  • 0% intro APR for purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, and then 16.49%–25.24% Variable
  • No balance transfer fee for the first 60 days; 5% transfer fee after that
  • No annual fee

Read more in our Review of the Chase Slate Credit Card

 

Best for Students

Discover it® Student Cash Back

Discover it® Student Cash Back

Our rating
Min. credit levelLimited Credit History
Details
(Rates & Fees)
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR14.49% - 23.49% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There’s no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, select rideshares and online shopping, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 14.49% – 23.49% applies.
  • Click “APPLY NOW” to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.

Key Terms & Features

  • 5% cash back in bonus reward categories that change every 3 months (on up to $1,500 in spending per quarter, activation required)
  • Double all cash back earned in the first year
  • 0% intro purchase APR for 6 months, and then 14.49% - 23.49% Variable
  • No annual fee

Read more in our Review of the Discover it for Students

 

Best for Small Business Owners

Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business

Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business

Our rating
Min. credit levelFair
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR24.49% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Earn unlimited 1% cash back for your business on every purchase, everywhere, no limits or category restrictions
  • No annual fee
  • Build and strengthen credit for your business by using this credit card responsibly
  • $0 Fraud Liability if your card is lost or stolen
  • Free employee cards, which also earn unlimited 1% cash back on all purchases
  • Rewards won’t expire for the life of the account, and you can redeem your cash back for any amount
  • No foreign transaction fees

The information related to Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

Key Terms & Features

  • 1% cash back for every purchase
  • No annual fee
  • Reports card activity to Dun & Bradstreet, Experian Business, Small Business Financial Exchange, and the consumer credit bureaus

Read more in our Review of the Capital One Spark Classic for Business

 

Instant Approval Cards for Bad or No Credit

Best for Earning Rewards, No Annual Fee

Discover it® Secured

Discover it® Secured

Our rating
Min. credit levelBad
Details
(Rates & Fees)
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR24.49% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
  • It’s a real credit card. You can build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, debit and prepaid cards can’t help you build a credit history.
  • Establish your credit line with your tax return by providing a refundable security deposit of at least $200 after being approved. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit.
  • Automatic reviews starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
  • Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score
  • INTRO OFFER: We automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • Click “APPLY NOW” to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.

Key Terms & Features

  • 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations, up to $1,000 in purchases per quarter
  • Double cash back in your first year
  • Security deposit of $200 to $2,500
  • No annual fee

Read more in our Review of the Discover it Secured Credit Card

 

Best for Low Security Deposit

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

Our rating
Min. credit levelBad
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR26.99% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • No annual fee, and all the credit building benefits with responsible card use
  • Unlike a prepaid card, it builds credit when used responsibly, with regular reporting to the 3 major credit bureaus
  • Access to an authorized bank account is required to make your $49, $99 or $200 refundable security deposit
  • Make the minimum required security deposit and you’ll get an initial credit line of $200. Plus, deposit more money before your account opens to get a higher credit line
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time with no additional deposit needed
  • Easily manage your account 24/7 with online access, by phone or using our mobile app
  • It’s a credit card accepted at millions of locations worldwide

The information related to Capital One® Secured Mastercard® has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

Key Terms & Features

  • Access a higher credit line after making your first five monthly payments on time
  • Security deposit of $49 to $200
  • No annual fee

Read more in our Review of the Capital One Secured Mastercard

 

Best for No Bank Account Required

Citi® Secured Mastercard®

Citi® Secured Mastercard®

Our rating
Min. credit levelLimited Credit History
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR22.49% (Variable)
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • The Citi® Secured Mastercard® is a no annual fee credit card that helps you build your credit when used responsibly.
  • Unlike a debit card, it helps build your credit history with monthly reporting to all 3 major credit bureaus. Once available, you will also have free access to your FICO score online.
  • Use your card anywhere Mastercard® is accepted — worldwide.
  • A security deposit is required. Once approved, your credit limit will be equal to your security deposit (minimum of $200).
  • Get help staying on track with Auto Pay and account alerts.
  • With Flexible Payment Due Dates, you can choose any available due date in the beginning, middle or end of the month.
  • Manage your account 24/7 online, by phone, or in our mobile app.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 22.49%. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi’s discretion.

The information related to Citi® Secured Mastercard® has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

Key Terms & Features

  • Security deposit of $200 to $2,500
  • No annual fee
  • Can apply without a bank account by visiting a Citibank in person

Read more in our Review of the Citi Secured Mastercard

Insider tip

If you’re trying to improve your credit check out credit builder loans through Self (formerly known as Self Lender). They’re a bit like loans in reverse, and they give you an easy way to add a positive account to your credit profile.

Instant Approval Retail Store Cards

The checkout process is not the best time to make major financial decisions. But still, many retailers will try to sell you on their store credit cards when you make a purchase.

They may offer a 20% discount on an item, for example, or a $25 gift card for spending at least $25. Store cards are usually pretty easy to get compared to other cards as well, available to people with average or poor credit.

It can be pretty tempting — apply for free, and get an immediate discount on your purchase? That doesn’t sound so bad. You usually just need to provide your ID and Social Security number.

If you take this approach and you’re approved, you’ll be able to charge that transaction to the card. It will reduce your available credit. But you may not be able to use the card again until you get it in the mail.

However, it’s not a good idea to apply for credit cards simply to get a small discount at a store.

Maybe you’re thinking: Hey, 20% off a $200 purchase is $40! That’s quite the savings!

But actually, when it comes to credit card signup offers, this is very small. Compare that to the Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card (Review), which provides a $200 cash rewards bonus for spending $1,000 in the first 90 days.

So you can get a much better value with signup offers on general-use reward credit cards. Store cards tend to have very small bonuses, relatively speaking. And if you’re going to get a hard inquiry on your credit reports from the application, you’d probably be better off taking that small hit for a more rewarding card.

My first ever credit card was the Macy's American Express® Card (Review). I applied for it in store while I was checking out, to get a discount on some clothes I would never wear. I then closed it soon after because I didn’t know what I was doing. This was not a good strategy!

– Brendan Harkness, Editor and Columnist

We don’t usually recommend using store credit cards. There are quite a few downsides. Store cards often have:

  • Lower credit limits
  • Higher interest rates
  • Poor customer service

We get many complaints about store cards. Sometimes people say their credit limits are reduced for no apparent reason. Others run into slow payment processing systems, or have trouble with poorly-trained customer support reps.

Insider tip

Some store cards are offered by the major credit card issuers, and you may find that they have better customer support than your average store card. We usually advise trying to stay away from cards issued by Synchrony and Comenity.

There’s only reason why it might make sense to get a store card, in our opinion.

If you shop at that store very frequently, and can’t get a better value with a different rewards card, it might be a good idea to use that store’s co-branded card.

The My Best Buy® Visa® (Review), for example, offers 5% cash back at Best Buy. That’s probably a better direct cash back rewards program than you can find with any general-use reward card.

It also has some special financing offers, but watch out: some of these are deferred financing deals. That means if you fail to pay back the entire amount by the due date, you’ll be charged interest on the original balance going all the way back to the purchase date.

Deferred financing offers aren’t as favorable as the basic 0% intro APR periods you can get with many cards. This is why it’s very important to read the card terms carefully. Store cards don’t usually offer intro APR periods, which is another reason to avoid them.

What Are “Guaranteed Approval” Credit Cards?

“Guaranteed approval” credit cards are subprime offers designed for people with bad or no credit.

They can “guarantee” approval because they don’t check your credit history when making their decision. So bad or limited credit isn’t an obstacle to getting these cards.

We keep putting “guaranteed approval” in quotes because your approval is not actually guaranteed, despite the phrase being thrown around quite a bit. Your application could be denied for a few different reasons:

  • You’re not old enough
  • Your identity or address can’t be verified
  • You don’t have an eligible bank account
  • You don’t provide the security deposit (for secured credit cards)
  • The card issuer has some other particular requirement you don’t meet

We generally recommend staying away from “guaranteed approval” credit cards.

Although these issuers may give you want you want — a quick new credit card — it’s probably not the best long-term solution. These cards are very easy to get for three main reasons:

  1. Cost: They tend to cost more than other cards, and some have extra fees
  2. Value: They don’t offer good rewards or benefits
  3. Support: The quality of customer support is low, even for credit cards

On top of all that, the websites and payment processing systems often seem to be years behind the other card issuers. We get a lot of complaints about subprime credit card issuers, with people reporting problems making payments, checking their account details online, and dealing with customer support.  All of these adverse factors combine to make certain subprime cards some of the worst credit cards out there.

So, although these “guaranteed approval” card offers may seem attractive, and they do report to the three major credit bureaus, we advise staying away. It could save you a few headaches.

Here are a few examples of subprime cards:

Instead of applying for those cards, take a look at our recommendations above for which credit cards to get if you have fair or bad credit.

Or see more of our Best Credit Card Picks:

Instant Credit Card Numbers

Maybe you have a big expense coming up with no way to pay for it, and you’re looking for a 0% APR card to give you some time to pay it off. Or perhaps you’re going on a trip next week, and you waited a bit too long to apply for that travel card.

Whatever the reason, you’re looking to get and use a credit card as quickly as possible.

Luckily for you, while you won’t be able to get your physical credit card the same day you apply, there are a few ways to access your credit card number immediately after you’re approved.

American Express and USAA are the only issuers to provide this service for all of their cards.

Along with those three, here are the other issuers that will provide you with your card details as soon as you’re approved (at least for some of their cards):

  • American Express: You can get an instant-use credit card number after being approved if Amex can instantly verify your identity. The account number will be the same as the physical card you get, but the other details may differ.
  • Bank of America: Three BofA airline credit cards will provide instant numbers if you apply while booking travel on their respective airline websites.
  • Citi: Some of Citi’s co-branded cards are rumored to provide instant-use credit card numbers: the American Airlines, Costco, and AT&T cards.
  • USAA: Instant card numbers are provided for all cards, but credit lines are limited to $1,000 (the actual physical card will have your normal line of credit).

And there’s one other type of credit card that often provides instant card numbers:

  • Retail Store Credit Cards: Many store cards can be used immediately after approval — they’re often advertised at checkout counters, so you can use them for the purchase you’re making.

Take note that you can get an instant card number from these issuers only after you’re approved. If your approval decision is immediate, you can get your instant card details then and there. But if your approval decision takes some time you’ll have to wait to get your instant card details, so this might spoil any plans to use your new card on the same day you apply.

Insider tip

Not all issuers offer instant numbers for all of their cards, but you may be able to get expedited shipping if you want to start using your physical card as soon as possible. Call your issuer immediately after being approved to see if they’ll use expedited shipping — they may even overnight the card to you.

These instant-use card numbers are similar to, but not quite the same as, virtual card numbers.

Virtual account numbers are different than your regular, physical card account number, and are typically used for extra security when shopping online. You won’t be exposing your real card details, and if a virtual number is compromised you can simply cancel it and get a new one, without going through the trouble of getting a new physical card and account number.

Instant card numbers, in contrast, will be the same as your physical card number. So you’ll be using your real card details for any transactions you make with them.

American Express

You can get an instant card number after approval with all American Express cards, as long as your identity can be verified instantly from the information in your application.

If Amex can verify your identity instantly you’ll see an image of your new card. The instant account number you see will be the same as your physical card, but the four-digit CID (card identification number) will be different, and the expiration date may be different as well. Your credit limit for the instant card may be smaller than the actual credit limit for your account.

You should copy down this instant card information immediately, because you won’t be able to see it again after this step in the application process.

Since the CID and possibly expiration date will differ from your actual card, it won’t be a good idea to use your instant card details for any subscription services or recurring payments. Use the information on your physical card for those types of purchases.

Instant numbers for Amex cards that are co-branded with airlines or hotels can typically only be used with that airline or hotel brand. A couple examples are the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card (Review) and Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card (Review).

Some people have reported receiving statement credits when Amex has been unable to provide instant numbers, although this doesn’t always happen. A reddit user shared this image of a $315 statement credit after not getting an instant number for a Hilton card:

Getting a statement credit instead of an instant card number from American Express. Image credit: Imgur via reddit

Getting a statement credit instead of an instant card number from American Express. Image credit: Imgur via reddit

Here are some of the top American Express cards, which you can apply for and begin using as soon as you’re approved if your identity can be instantly verified:

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
(Rates & Fees)
Annual Fee$550
Regular APRN/A
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

American Express is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

American Express® Gold Card

American Express® Gold Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
(Rates & Fees)
Annual Fee$250
Regular APRN/A
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points when you dine at restaurants worldwide. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X). Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Earn up to a total of $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. This can be an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
  • $100 Airline Fee Credit: up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for incidental fees at one selected qualifying airline.
  • Choose to carry a balance with interest on eligible charges of $100 or more.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

American Express is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
(Rates & Fees)
Annual Fee$95
Regular APR12.99–23.99% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
  • 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more). 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • Don’t wait for your Card in the mail. Start earning cash back before your card even arrives, if eligible for Instant Card Number.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, currently 12.99% to 23.99%
  • Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

American Express is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

Bank of America

There are three Bank of America credit cards that will provide an instant card number, and they’re all co-branded with different airlines.

To get an instant card number you must apply for the card while booking travel through the airline’s website, rather than on Bank of America’s website.

There are rumors of other BofA cards offering instant numbers, but a customer support agent told us this is not possible.

The three airline cards and their respective websites are:

Card Airline Website
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card Alaska Airlines website
Allegiant World Mastercard® Allegiant Air website
Spirit Airlines World Mastercard® Spirit Airlines website
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
Annual Fee$75
Regular APR17.24%–25.24% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • NEW – 40,000 Bonus Mile + Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare™ Offer.
  • Get 40,000 bonus miles and Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) with this offer. To qualify, make purchases of $2,000 or more within the first 90 days of opening your account.
  • Save with a free checked bag on Alaska flights for you and up to six other guests on the same reservation.
  • Get Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare™ every year! EACH YEAR on your account anniversary get a companion fare from $121 ($99 plus taxes and fees from $22). Valid on all Alaska flights booked on alaskaair.com.
  • Earn 3 miles for every $1 spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases and 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Get exclusive access to discounted redemption levels when you redeem miles for hotel stays at over 400,000 properties using Alaska Airlines Hotels.
  • Earn unlimited miles and travel with no blackout dates and no foreign transaction fees.
Allegiant World Mastercard®

Allegiant World Mastercard®

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
Annual Fee$59
Regular APR17.24%–25.24% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Earn 15,000 bonus points ($150) for spending $1,000 within the first 90 days of account opening
  • 3X points per $1 on Allegiant purchases, 2X points per $1 on qualifying dining purchases, and 1X point per $1 on all other purchases
  • 0% APR for 12 months for balance transfers made during the first 60 days, followed by a regular rate of 17.24%–25.24% Variable
  • Complimentary priority boarding and one free beverage every time you fly Allegiant
  • Buy one, get one free airfare whenever you use your card to purchase an eligible vacation package from Allegiant
  • View your FICO score any time you’d like at no cost, based on your TransUnion credit report
  • Overdraft protection when you link your Bank of America checking account
  • No blackout dates, no destination restrictions, no minimum point redemptions
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • $59 annual fee
Spirit Airlines World Mastercard®

Spirit Airlines World Mastercard®

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
Annual Fee$59, $0 first year
Regular APR17.24%–25.24% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • 15,000 bonus miles after making your first purchase
  • 2X miles per dollar spent on purchases
  • Earn 5,000 anniversary bonus FREE SPIRIT miles when you spend at least $10,000 in purchases annually
  • Preferred boarding on Spirit flights
  • Priority check-in where available
  • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • $59 annual fee, waived the first year

Citi

There are several co-branded Citi credit cards that people report getting instant card numbers for, but we were unable to verify this with Citi.

Citi’s American Airlines cards are rumored to be available instantly:

And a few other co-branded cards are rumored to be available instantly as well:

According to Citi’s customer support, Citi is not able to give out account numbers when applying through Citi’s website or over the phone. But we were told if you apply for a co-branded American Airlines card through American Airlines’ website while booking travel, you may be able to use the card instantly after being approved.

There are also quite a few reports online that the Costco credit cards can be used immediately after being approved, as long as you apply in a Costco store. This would fit with the general trend of store credit cards being instantly available when applying in-store. And there are a few reports of the AT&T card being available immediately after approval as well, although your mileage may vary here.

Learn more about some of these credit card offers from Citi:

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
Annual Fee$99, waived for first 12 months
Regular APR15.99% - 24.99% (Variable)
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at gas stations and restaurants
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • Earn a $125 American Airlines Flight Discount after you spend $20,000 or more in purchases during your cardmembership year and renew your card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to four companions traveling with you on the same reservation
  • Enjoy preferred boarding on American Airlines flights
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 15.99% – 24.99%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi’s discretion.

Citi is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®

Our rating
Min. credit levelExcellent
Details
Annual Fee$450
Regular APR15.99% - 24.99% (Variable)
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage®bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Admirals Club® membership for you and access for up to two guests or immediate family members traveling with you
  • Earn 10,000 AAdvantage® Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) after you spend $40,000 in purchases within the year
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to 8 companions traveling with you on the same reservation
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 15.99% – 24.99%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi’s discretion.

The information related to Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

Our rating
Min. credit levelExcellent
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR15.24% (Variable)
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Discover one of Citi’s best cash back rewards cards designed exclusively for Costco members
  • 4% cash back on eligible gas for the first $7,000 per year and then 1% thereafter
  • 3% cash back on restaurants and eligible travel purchases
  • 2% cash back on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • No annual fee with your paid Costco membership and enjoy no foreign transaction fees on purchases
  • Receive an annual credit card reward certificate, which is redeemable for cash or merchandise at U.S. Costco warehouses, including Puerto Rico
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 15.24%. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi’s discretion.

The information related to Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

USAA

All USAA credit cards will provide an instant card number upon approval, along with your CVV and expiration date.

Your instant card will have a credit line of just $1,000 at most, but you’ll get access to your full credit line after receiving and activating your physical card.

USAA cards are limited to members of the military, both active and former, as well as their families. You can see USAA’s eligibility requirements here.

Some of the best USAA credit cards are:

USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card

USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelExcellent
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR13.90%–27.90% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Earn 5% cash back on your first $3,000 in gas and military base purchases annually on these categories combined
  • Earn 2% on your first $3,000 on supermarket purchases per year
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • USAA membership is available to active and former military and their eligible family members
USAA Rewards™ American Express® Card

USAA Rewards™ American Express® Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR11.90%–27.90% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Earn 3X points per dollar spent on dining
  • Earn 2X points per dollar spent on gas and groceries
  • Earn 1X points for every dollar spent on all other purchases
  • Get 2,500 bonus points with your first purchase
  • Redeem points for cash, merchandise, gift cards and more.
  • USAA membership is available to active and former military and their eligible family members
USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature®

USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature®

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR13.90%–27.90% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase with no limits or category restrictions
  • Pay no annual fee, no penalty APR and no foreign transaction fees
  • USAA membership is available to active and former military and their eligible family members.

Retail Store Credit Cards

Merchants are always trying to get you to sign up for their store credit cards, often while you’re in the process of checking out. Although this is a bad time to make serious credit decisions, many people end up signing up for these cards to get mediocre savings on their current purchase.

Don’t be tempted by a $20 discount — only apply for a store’s credit card if you shop there frequently, and can’t get a better deal from a general-use reward card.

When applying in-store, you’ll typically be able to use your card immediately for the purchase you’re looking to make. You may be given a temporary card number to use until your actual card arrives in the mail. Some retailers don’t require you to have your card when making in-store purchases, they can just look up your card based on your personal information.

When applying online you may or may not be able to use the card immediately, depending on the retailer, but in most cases you probably cannot use it immediately. Some store cards have offers like “Save 20% on purchases on the day you’re approved,” but when applying online cardholders sometimes have trouble actually finding their card details to take advantage of the deal. If you want to use a discount like this, the safest bet will often be to apply for the card and make your purchases in-store, although this is less convenient.

Here are a few popular store cards you can use immediately after applying in-store and being approved:

My Best Buy® Visa®

My Best Buy® Visa®

Our rating
Min. credit levelFair
Details
Annual Fee$0 or $59 (depending on creditworthiness)
Regular APR26.74% Variable (11.90% Fixed for select purchases)
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • 5% back in rewards at Best Buy OR deferred financing on purchases of $199 and higher.
  • 3% back in rewards at gas stations, grocery stores (through December 2018), and home furnishing stores (through December 2018)
  • 2% back in rewards at restaurants
  • 1% back in rewards on all other purchases
  • Points don’t expire as long as your account is active
  • Spend $3,500 per year to reach Elite Plus status and earn 1.25 points per $1 spent at Best Buy
  • Reward Certificates are emailed when you reach 250 points
  • Choose between rewards or special financing offers
  • Annual fee of $0 or $59, depending on creditworthiness

The information related to My Best Buy® Visa® has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

Macy's American Express® Card

Macy's American Express® Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelFair
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR27.24% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • 3X points per dollar at restaurants, 2X points per dollar at gas stations and grocery stores, 1X point for all other purchases
  • Macy’s Star Pass mailings
  • Surprise savings at checkout
  • Star Money days
  • Registry star rewards
  • Free shipping for Gold and Platinum members only
  • 5% back in rewards at Macy’s for Platinum members only
  • Birthday surprise every year
  • No annual fee
Target REDcard™ Credit Card

Target REDcard™ Credit Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelFair
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR24.65% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • 5% off every day at Target & Target.com.*
  • Free 2 day shipping on hundreds of thousands of items at Target.com.*
  • Early Access to products and promotions*
  • Exclusive Extras including special items and offers*
  • Starbucks discount on in-store locations – get everyday 5% savings when you pay with your REDcard*
  • Cartwheel – save 5-50% on hundreds of items in store & get everyday 5% savings when you pay with your REDcard*
  • Target Subscriptions – save 5% on everyday essentials delivered on your schedule when you subscribe, plus get everyday 5% savings when you pay with your REDcard*
  • Get everyday 5% savings on specialty gift cards when you pay with your REDcard*
  • Target Wallet, easy and fast checkout. Use Wallet in the Target app to save with Cartwheel and pay with REDcard by scanning your phone at check out in store.
  • *Some restrictions apply. See Target.com/redcard for benefits and program rules

Wrapping Up

Instant approval doesn’t always mean instant approval.

Depending on your creditworthiness you may get an instant decision with most cards, approved or denied. In some cases the application will take longer to process, and it could take up to a week or two before you get a decision.

Some retail stores will offer you credit cards when you reach the checkout counter, trying to lure you in with a discount. But these cards are rarely worth using, and the signup bonuses are relatively small compared to other reward cards.

“Guaranteed approval” is a different type of card offer. These cards don’t take your credit into account when you apply, so they’re very easy to get. But there’s still a chance of being denied.

We don’t usually recommend using “guaranteed approval” cards. If your credit is in awful shape, take a look at our top picks for credit cards for bad credit and secured cards. With responsible card use you’ll strengthen your credit profile, and eventually be able to qualify for the best rewards cards.

There are also credit builder loans, an additional tactic you can use to improve your credit scores. These are installment loans, rather than rotating credit accounts like credit cards. It’s good to have variety like this on your credit reports, especially when you’re adding records of timely payments.

If you need to use a credit card as soon as possible, some issuers offer instant card numbers you can use right after being approved. American Express, Capital One, and USAA are best for this because all of their cards are eligible for instant numbers, but there are some options from the other issuers mentioned above too.

Looking for the perfect new credit card? Check out our picks for the Best Credit Cards available today.

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For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, please click here.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.

For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, please click here.

For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, please click here.

At a glance

Whether you’re approved or rejected, nearly every credit card issuer can provide an instant decision once you apply. Some issuers offer instant credit card numbers that can be used as soon as you’re approved.

Credit Card Insider receives compensation from advertisers whose products may be mentioned on this page. Advertiser relationships do not affect card evaluations. Advertising partners do not edit or endorse our editorial content. Content is accurate to the best of our knowledge when it's published. Learn more in our Editorial Guidelines.

The information related to Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®, Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business, Capital One® Secured Mastercard®, Citi® Secured Mastercard®, Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®, Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi, My Best Buy® Visa®, Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card, CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®, Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card by Citi, and AT&T Access Card from Citi have been collected by Credit Card Insider and have not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of these products.

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