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CNET Money's mission is to help you maximize your financial potential. Our recommendations are based on our editors' independent research and analysis, and we continuously update our content to reflect current partner offers. How we rate credit cards

Best Credit Cards for Instant Approval in October 2022

Get immediate access to a line of credit through these credit cards.

Unlike most credit cards -- where you'll need to wait until a physical card arrives in the mail to start spending -- instant approval credit cards can process applications in minutes and provide funds shortly after. Some issuers will even provide a credit card number you can use immediately upon approval.

Though a good credit score will give you better options, instant approval credit cards are also available for those with poor credit or no credit at all, though in some cases a secured credit card might be required. While you should never charge more than you can afford to repay, if you're in a tough spot and need cash now, instant approval cards can get you money quickly.

Discover our best credit card partner offers below. These picks are based on speed of approval, features, low fees and required credit level, and we'll update this list as new cards are released and terms change.

Read moreBest Credit Cards That Offer Preapproval

Best overall for instant approval

6/10 CNET Rating
Card Highlights
Intro OfferEarn a $200 bonus on your Upgrade Card after opening a Rewards Checking account and making 3 debit card transactions*
APR14.99% -29.99%
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Recommended Credit Excellent/Good/Fair Credit
Reward Rates
  • Unlimited cash back on payments - 3% on Home, Auto and Health categories
  • 1% on everything else
Annual Fee$0
Additional Details
Foreign Transaction Fees $0
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Unlimited cash back on payments - 3% on Home, Auto and Health categories
  • 1% on everything else

Our Take

If you need a card right away for an upcoming expense, the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa is available to use as soon as you're approved. For the ultimate flexibility, this card is a combination of credit card and line of credit to cover unexpected expenses, with monthly payments deducted automatically from your bank account. Plus, you'll earn cash back as you go. Once you're approved, all you need to do is sign in to your Upgrade account to find your virtual card number. You can use the number for online purchases until your physical card arrives by mail.

For below-average credit

4/10 CNET Rating
Card Highlights
Intro OfferN/A
APR28.49% (Variable)
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Recommended Credit Limited, Bad
Reward RatesN/A
Annual Fee$0
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APRN/A
Balance Transfer APR28.49% (Variable)
Balance Transfer Fee $0 at this Transfer APR
Late Payment Fee Up to $40
Foreign Transaction Fees None
Penalty APR None

Our Take

Most instant-approval credit cards make a decision fast, but the decision may not always be in your favor. It's especially true if your credit score falls below a Good rating. A secured credit card -- a card requiring a security deposit in exchange for a credit account -- may be the best option. The Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card is designed for anyone with limited or even no credit and offers low security deposit requirements. 

Most secured cards expect you to provide 100% of the credit limit in the form of a security deposit. Capital One may only require as little as $49 or $99 to get a $200 initial credit line. If you maintain your card account in good standing, Capital One may automatically consider you for a higher credit line in as little as six months. If approved, you may be able to log in to the app to grab your new card number and start making purchases right away.

For more details, check out our full review of the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card.

Instant approval for Amazon

9.5/10 CNET Rating
Card Highlights
Intro OfferUp to a $150 Amazon gift card instantly upon approval
APR16.49% - 24.49% Variable
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Recommended Credit Excellent/Good
Reward Rates
  • 5% back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market with eligible Prime membership*
  • 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores*
  • 1% back on all other purchases*
Annual Fee$0
Additional Details
Balance Transfer APR16.49% - 24.49% Variable
Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Late Payment Fee Up to $39
Foreign Transaction Fees None
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • 5% back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market with eligible Prime membership*
  • 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores*
  • 1% back on all other purchases*

Our Take

The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card** is an excellent choice for shoppers who want to earn cash-back rewards that can be applied to purchases, transferred to a bank account or applied as a statement credit. Once you're approved for this Chase credit card, you'll see the credit card in your Amazon account and ready to use at checkout. You'll need to wait for the physical card before you can shop at retail stores, but considering how much is available through Amazon or Whole Foods online, you may be able to purchase what you need without the mail carrier holding you up.

For more details, check out our full review of the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card.

Highest no annual fee rewards rate

8.5/10 CNET Rating
Card Highlights
Intro OfferN/A
APR15.00% - 22.00% Variable
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Recommended Credit Excellent/Good Credit
Reward Rates
  • Earn 2x points on every dollar spent
  • Earn 3x points on every dollar spent that entire year when you spend $15,000+ in a year
  • 4X points for 30 days for each friend you invite who gets the card
Annual FeeNone
Additional Details
Balance Transfer APR15.00% - 22.00% Variable
Balance Transfer Fee 2% of the amount of each transfer.
Penalty APR None
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn 2x points on every dollar spent
  • Earn 3x points on every dollar spent that entire year when you spend $15,000+ in a year
  • 4X points for 30 days for each friend you invite who gets the card

Our Take

The X1 Visa** credit card has high earning potential and may be a little easier to qualify for considering the credit card issuer weighs your income more heavily than your credit score.

Cardholders can earn 2x points per dollar for their purchases, with the opportunity to increase it to 3x points by spending at least $15,000 with the card in a year. Each point is worth one cent, so that means you could earn up to 3% cash back with the card. That's one of the best rates on the market for a credit card without an annual fee. You can then redeem your rewards for purchases with a number of major retailers including Apple and Amazon.

Best for iPhone users

7/10 CNET Rating
Card Highlights
Intro OfferN/A
APR10.99% to 21.99% (Variable)
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Recommended Credit N/A
Reward Rates
  • Apple Card gives you unlimited 3% Daily Cash back on everything you buy at Apple
  • With every purchase you make using your Apple Card with Apple Pay, you get 2% Daily Cash back
Annual Fee$0
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Apple Card gives you unlimited 3% Daily Cash back on everything you buy at Apple
  • With every purchase you make using your Apple Card with Apple Pay, you get 2% Daily Cash back

Our Take

The Apple Card** is a Mastercard issued by Goldman Sachs. According to Apple, the card "lives on your iPhone." As long as you're using Apple Pay, you won't need the physical version of the credit card, although one will follow in the mail. Daily Cash gives you cash back on your purchases the same day of the transaction. You'll find that the cash balance is available in the card app for payments or to send to a friend. You can find out if you're preapproved for the Apple Card without a dent in your credit score before you formally apply. If you get the green light, you can use the card right away through Apple Pay.

FAQs


What credit score do I need for instant approval?

Credit cards are not one-size-fits-all products. There are instant-approval cards available for everyone -- from someone starting out with no credit to individuals with excellent credit. This credit card guide includes credit requirements for the cards reviewed so you can gauge your likelihood of approval ahead of time.

What's the difference between prequalification and preapproval?

Prequalification and preapproval for a credit card both help you understand your chances of approval without hurting your credit. The difference between credit card prequalification and credit card preapproval is who initiates the request, you or the credit card company. 

If you decide to see your approval chances, you can get prequalified for a credit card by visiting the card provider's prequalification page. When a credit card company sends you a credit card offer, it will often say you are "preapproved" for a credit card. You can then follow your preapproval link to complete the application process.

For both, the card company does a soft inquiry on your credit report that does not affect your credit score. A hard inquiry happens if you actually apply. In addition, you're not obligated to apply if you're prequalified or preapproved.

Does a preapproval offer guarantee approval?

A preapproval is more like an invitation to apply for a credit card. The chances are high you'll be approved. However, you're not guaranteed a credit card yet; you've only met the initial criteria that card issuers use to screen potential cardholders. Once you apply, the credit issuer performs a more detailed, hard inquiry on your credit to make a definitive decision.

What's the difference between instant approval and instant use?

Instant-approval credit cards will provide you with an answer as soon as you complete the online card application. However, you may still have to wait for the physical card to arrive in the mail so you can activate it for use. 

Instant-use credit cards are available immediately after approval. Card companies that offer instant-use cards will give you the card number and expiration date as soon as you're approved.

Cards researched

  • Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa
  • Upgrade Card
  • Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card
  • Apple Card
  • Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit 
  • Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express 
  • Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
  • Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa Credit Card
  • Digital First Card
  • United℠ Explorer Card
  • PayPal Cashback Mastercard
  • Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card
  • OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
  • Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

Our methodology

CNET reviews credit cards by exhaustively comparing them across set criteria developed for each major category, including cash back, welcome bonus, travel rewards and balance transfer. We take into consideration the typical spending behavior of a range of consumer profiles -- with the understanding that everyone's financial situation is different -- and the designated function of a card. 

For cash-back credit cards, for example, key factors include the annual fee, the welcome bonus and the cash-back rate (or rates, if they differ by spending category). For rewards and miles cards, we calculate and weigh the net monetary value of a card's respective perks. And with balance transfer credit cards, we analyze specs such as the duration of the introductory 0% APR period and the balance transfer fee, while acknowledging secondary factors such as the standard APR and the length of time you have to make a balance transfer after you open the account.

More credit card advice 

*To qualify for the $200 welcome bonus, you must open and fund a new Rewards Checking account and make 3 debit card transactions within 60 days of your Upgrade Card account opening. The bonus will be applied as a one-time credit to your account and will not otherwise reduce the amount of your regular monthly payments. The bonus credit will be posted to your Upgrade Card as a rewards credit within 1-2 billing periods following the third debit card transaction on your Rewards Checking account. Your Upgrade Card must be in good standing to receive a bonus.

**All information about the Apple Card, X1 Visa, and Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card has been collected independently by CNET and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.