Canada's best instant approval cards at a glance
Best overall rewards - AMEX Cobalt
Apply now and you could earn up to 15,000 bonus points with the American Express Cobalt® Card
Best no-fee rewards - PC Financial
The no annual fee PC® Mastercard® is a fast way to earn PC Optimum™ points towards great rewards.
Best cash back - Simplycash Preferred by AMEX
Earn a $40 statement credit for each monthly billing period in which you spend $750 in purchases on your Card. This could add up to $400 in statement credits in the first 10 months
Our methodology: how we choose the best instant approval cards
The American Express Cobalt is one of the highest-earning rewards cards out there, offering up to 5 points per $1 on groceries, restaurants, and food delivery. Points are worth up to 1.75 cents each when redeemed for travel via Amex’s Fixed Points Rewards chart or 1 cent each if you want to keep things simple and use Amex’s straightforward Flexible Points program (1,000 points always equals $10 in travel rewards). The card has no specific income requirements, and when you apply online, you can get instantly approved in minutes if you qualify.
The PC Financial Mastercard is one of Canada's strongest no-fee rewards credit cards and store credit cards for everyday essentials. Approval decisions come within minutes of submitting your application online. You can earn at least 25 points per $1 spent at Shoppers Drug Mart, 30 points per $1 spent at Esso and Mobil gas stations, and 10 points per $1 spent everywhere else. Other PC Financial cards to consider include the PC Financial World Mastercard and the PC Financial World Elite Mastercard. With these cards you can 30 PC Optimum points (the equivalent of 3% in store credit) at Loblaws-owned grocery stores. While that obviously includes Loblaws chains, it also includes several other locations - from No Frills and Fortinos to Real Canadian Superstores, and more.
The SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express credit card lets you earn cash back equally across all categories - removing the complexity of some cash back reward credit cards and making it one of the best no fee credit cards in Canada. With SimplyCash Preferred, cardholders can earn 2% cash back on all purchases. Overall, this cash back credit card is a great option for those looking for an easy to understand rewards structure with no restrictions.
While the fact that the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card is a no annual fee card is a big reason behind its popularity, what really sets this card apart is its customizability. With this card, you can choose your bonus categories (which will earn you a strong cash back rate of 2% per $1 spent). This is rare in the credit card market and means you can avoid being locked into a bonus category that you can’t take full advantage of or that doesn’t align with your spending habits. On top of that, your cash back is refunded every month instead of the standard annual reimbursement.
The BMO CashBack Mastercard - Student is a no annual fee, instant approval rewards credit card that offers particularly strong returns on everyday essentials from grocery stores and supermarkets. It earns 3% cash back on the first $500 you spend on groceries every month and 1% on recurring bills up to $500 every month (0.5% cash back after that). For all your other everyday purchases, you’ll net 0.5% cash back without limits.
While there are rewards caps on the card’s two bonus categories, they do reset with the start of every new 30-day billing cycle. And at $500 per month in each category, they’ll be hard to max out, especially on a student’s budget.
This credit card has the trio of features that most appeal to students: 1. no annual fees 2. the ability to earn straightforward rewards, and 3. no income requirement.
The NEO Credit is an instant approval credit card that will provide you with a digital card that be used immediately through Apple Wallet or Google Pay even before your physical card arrives. You can use the app to view rewards by location and get cash back when you shop.
The Koho Easy Mastercard is a prepaid credit card that is a great option for individuals with no or bad credit scores. The Koho Easy allows you to earn cash back rewards for every purchase and offers a credit building service helping you build or rebuild your credit history.
How can I apply for an instant approval credit card?
The best way to apply is online, but you can also apply in person or over the phone. You’ll need to provide some information to prove your identity and employment, including your:
- Employment status and place of work
- In some cases, your other debts and expenses
- Social insurance number (though, your SIN usually isn’t required)
- Finally, you’ll need to consent to a credit check
What is the best instant approval credit card in Canada?
This will be of no surprise to most as is the best overall credit card, but the American Express Cobalt Card is also the best instant approval card in Canada.
Can I get an instant approval credit card if I have bad credit?
Most instant approval credit cards need fair to good credit scores, meaning you have a higher chance of being declined if you have a bad credit score. Good news is there are plenty of cards on the market for people with bad credit scores.
What is credit card instant approval?
Instant approval is exactly what it sounds like. After providing the necessary information (more on that below), the card issuer’s underwriting algorithm will automatically look at your application in real time and decide whether you meet the qualification requirements and are approved.
Because the entire process takes place automatically online and there’s no need for a human underwriter to examine your application, you'll find out whether you’re approved for the card at the same time you apply.
This feature proves helpful in several situations. If you’re not sure whether your application will be approved, instant approval will spare you weeks of waiting. Additionally, if you plan to use a credit card for a specific purpose, like for an upcoming vacation, being instantly approved will also get the card in your hands faster.
However, it is important to note that instant approval doesn’t mean guaranteed approval. You’ll still need to meet the card’s application requirements and undergo a credit check. Instant approval just makes it easier and faster (we’re talking a matter of minutes) to get approved in cases when you do satisfy the qualification requirements.
How does my credit score affect a credit card instant approval?
The better your credit score, the more likely you are to be instantly approved for a credit card.
A great strategy is to check your own credit score beforehand. Many websites, including Transunion, let you check your credit score for free. It's important to note that checking your own credit score isn’t the same as when banks do it and won’t hurt your score in any way.
Even if your credit score falls below the threshold for instant approval, you may still be approved for the card you want. The process might just take longer, and you might have to provide additional details, make a security deposit, speak with the card issuer in person or over the phone, and/or have a guarantor co-sign for the card.
Additionally, you’ll need to meet other minimum requirements for these cards. Most notably, many premium credit cards have a minimum requirement for personal income – typically around $60,000-$80,000.
What else can I do to increase my odds of being instantly approved?
One of the best ways to increase your chances of being instantly approved for the card you want is to do your research and make sure you meet its income requirements before hitting apply. Most credit card application pages will explicitly mention how much you need to earn in order to get approved.
As a long-term strategy, you’ll also want to maintain good personal finance habits to keep your credit score in good standing. Borrowing only what you can afford and paying all of your bills on time are two of the biggest things you can do to improve your creditworthiness. It also helps to stay well under your credit limit on the cards you already have.
After I’m instantly approved, can I use my credit card right away?
Unfortunately, just because the approval process is instant, that doesn’t mean you can start spending immediately. After you’re approved, you’ll have to wait until your new card arrives in the mail, which usually takes anywhere from 5-7 business days. However, some cards (which we have covered above) provide information enabling you to add it to your digital wallet, allowing you to start using it immediately.
Some caveats to instant approval credit cards
In some cases, instant approval credit cards are only available to permanent residents, eligible work visa holders or citizens of Canada. If you’re new to Canada, you’ll likely have to step into a bank branch or call over the phone for a more detailed conversation with a banking specialist to get a card.
Instant approval credit cards may not offer as many rewards or benefits as other cards on the market. Some cards may also come with higher interest rates as well.
Instant approval vs. guaranteed credit cards
Remember, instant approval isn’t the same as guaranteed approval. You’ll still need to meet the card’s application requirements and undergo a credit check – and you can still get rejected.
If you have bad credit and are looking for a card that’s super easy to get, you’ll want to set your sights on what’s known as a secured card. A secured card is a credit card made for people with bad credit and have little to no real application requirements. Designed for people who are looking to rebuild their credit history, secured cards come with trade offs like the fact you’ll need to pay forward a deposit and typically won’t earn rewards.
How do I find the right credit card with instant approval for me?
With lots of credit card offers on the market, the choices can be overwhelming. Ratehub’s CardFinder tool can match you with the best credit card for you, based on your particular spending habits and approval likelihood, in under two minutes.