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There’s a lot to think about when getting a new credit card – you have to choose the right rewards, decide whether or not you want to pay an annual fee, and what kind of perks are must-haves.

So when it comes to actually applying for a card, wouldn’t it be nice to know if you were approved right away?

Fortunately, many credit companies will let you know on the spot if you were approved, this way you won’t be left waiting in the dark and frantically checking the mail every day wondering if your new shiny credit card will ever come.

We’ve created this guide to let you know what issuers and which cards offer instant approval – depending on your credit score, of course.

Credit cards with instant approval – defined

So, what is instant approval?

Basically, after filling out an online application for a credit card, if the issuer lets you know shortly after clicking that apply button if you were approved or not, they offer instant approval.

The biggest upside to this is being able to know right then and there – no rushing to the mail every day in hopes of seeing a credit card envelope, no guessing and hypothesizing if your income was enough, or your credit score was good enough… You’ll get that added peace of mind.

How it works

For most issuers, instant approval works by going on their site and applying for a credit card.

Then, after entering all the information they require of you, your credit file will be reviewed.

You may be asked questions to confirm your identity, such as where you have lived in the past, as well as past or current credit cards you hold.

If you answer these questions correctly and they see no other issues, you’ll learn right on the web page whether or not you were approved for the card.

However, just because you were instantly approved, doesn’t mean you’re completely out of the woods yet. You may still have to provide proof of income or verify your identity.

Credit card issuers that offer instant approval

Here are some of the banks that offer instant approval:

It’s a fairly large list and covers most of the biggest credit card issuers in Canada.

Credit cards with instant approval that have no credit checks

Unfortunately, you won’t find any credit cards that don’t check your credit score. As part of giving you credit, a lender is going to want to see your history – they won’t just hand out credit cards to anyone.

There is one exception, however – if you already have a credit card with a particular issuer and want to get a different one from them, they may or may not do a credit check.

As a personal example, I have an American Express card. Last year when I applied for another one, they didn’t pull my credit score, since I had 3 years worth of history where they could see I always paid my bills on time. The only exception was when I applied for the while holding the .

Why? Because they’re different types of credit products. Amex charge cards are considered an open account, while credit cards are considered revolving. And because of that, Amex still pulled my credit file.

TD is another example. I was switching from the to the . There was no credit check – all they asked was that I met the income requirements of a Visa Infinite card. It should be noted that I wasn’t applying for a new credit product.

Credit cards that offer instant approval based on credit score

With all that said, here’s a brief guide on which credit cards offer instant approval for a given credit score range.

Credit cards with instant approval that have fair credit – score range of 560-659

When your credit score is less than 660, you’re going to be faced with quite a limited selection of cards that won’t offer much other than the ability to help improve your score.

Out of all the cards we track, none of them offer instant approval for fair credit.

Credit cards with instant approval that have good credit – score range of 660-724

In this score range, the number of cards you can get with instant approval starts to increase.

In fact, many American Express cards fall in this range.

Some of these cards include:

Several BMO cards also offer instant approval in this range, including a couple of their World Elite cards:

Credit cards with instant approval that have very good credit – score range of 725-759

All but the stingiest of approvals will be available to you if you have good credit.

In this range, most of TD’s premium cards become available for instant approval:

Most of Scotiabank’s premium line up becomes available as well:

On top of these, the American Express cash back line up falls in this range:

Credit cards with instant approval that have excellent credit – score better than 760

In this range, the world is your (credit card) oyster. With a score better than 760, your credit score shouldn’t hold you back in getting whatever credit card you desire.

Any issuer that offers instant approval that hasn’t been discussed from our list above would fall in here, like National Bank, RBC, and Tangerine, to name a few.

Credit cards with instant approval for secured credit

When it comes to credit cards with secured credit, there’s generally no instant approval, since you have to make a security deposit before they can open your account.

Retail credit cards with instant approval

Many of the most popular retail cards offer instant approval:

Student credit cards with instant approval

Are you a student looking for a credit card?

Student cards generally only need a low credit score, as they are geared towards students who are most likely just getting their first credit product.

The best one available is the . You’ll earn up to 3% cash back on all of your purchases. On top of that, you’ll also earn 5% cash back for the first 3 months.

Or if you want some travel rewards instead, you could opt for the . Earn AIR MILES on all of your purchases, and a welcome bonus of up to 800 miles.

How to find the credit score requirements for all cards

These kinds of lists are great, but not every card can be listed.

Any easy way to find out a card’s credit score requirement? Head over to our compare cards page and expand the “More options” tab on the left-hand side and set the credit score slider to match your current score.

Credit score slider

This way you’ll only see the cards you’re eligible for.

Approval in a flash

The bottom line is your credit score plays an important part in applying for a credit card.

Having a great score will open you up to any credit card you desire, and increasing the rewards you earn.

And, if you apply for a card with instant approval, you’ll know on the spot if you were approved – no guessing needed.

What has your experience been like applying for a card? Were you approved instantly, or did you have to wait?

Let us know in the comments below.

Instant approval credit cards: FAQ

Is an instant approval credit card the same as a guaranteed approval credit card?

No, instant approval simply means that you find out whether you’re approved for a credit card very quickly. Some instant approval credit cards require that you have excellent credit, so this is simply a matter of approval speed, not approval likelihood.

Are there instant approval credit cards for bad credit?

Unfortunately, of all the credit cards we track, there are no instant approval credit cards for bad credit. You’ll need to have a high credit score in order to take advantage of instant approval credit card applications.

Can I get an instant approval student credit card?

You can. BMO, for example, offers 2 instant approval student credit cards, the BMO CashBack Mastercard for Students, and the BMO AIR MILES Mastercard for Students. Read our full review of these 2 BMO student credit cards.