The best instant approval credit cards

by Jordan Lavin November 6, 2019 / No Comments

  • Instant approval credit cards make applying for a card quick – letting you know whether your application is approved or rejected on the spot in just minutes.
  • If you’re approved, expect your card in the mail in around 5 to 7 business days. 
  • Instant approval doesn’t mean guaranteed approval. For cards that are super easy to get (even if you have bad credit), click here.
  • Skip to a summary of the best instant approval credit cards by clicking here.

Once upon a time, applying for a credit card meant going in to a bank branch to fill out a long form while an angry line formed behind you, shaking hands with the branch manager, and waiting the long six-to-eight weeks for the letter to come in the mail just to announce that your new credit card would be sent to you in the next 3-4 weeks.

Today, I don’t have the patience for that and neither do you. Fortunately, there are plenty of credit cards available in Canada that offer instant approval. You can find out immediately whether your credit card is approved and get your new card in short order. 

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 system will automatically look at your application in real-time and decide whether you meet the qualification requirements and are approved. 

Because the entire process happens online and there’s no need for a human underwriter to examine your application, you will find out whether you’re approved for the card at the same time you apply.

This is helpful to have in a few situations. If you’re not sure whether your application will be approved, instant approval will spare you weeks of waiting. If you’re planning 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.

Note though, instant approval doesn’t mean guaranteed approval. You’ll still need to meet the card’s application requirements and undergo a credit check – an 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 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;
  • Income;
  • 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.

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, let you check your credit score for free. Contrary to what you might have heard, checking your own credit score isn’t the same as when banks do it and won’t hurt your score in any way.

Credit Score
Odds of Instant approval
0-659 Unlikely – Work on improving your credit to increase your odds of approval.
660-724 Fair – You won’t be instantly approved for all credit cards with a credit score in this range, but you will have good selection possibly including many American Express cards including the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card.
725-759 Good
With a credit score over 725, you’re likely to be instantly approved for a wider range of cards possibly including the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card and the National Bank World Mastercard.
760+ Excellent – With excellent credit, you can be instantly approved for virtually all cards.

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 give 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 keep good personal finance habits to maintain 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?

One of the biggest reasons people want to be instantly approved for a new credit card is so they can start using it 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. 

This is done for a couple of reasons. First, it prevents people from making credit card applications because they need cash in an emergency. If that’s your primary reason for needing an instant approval credit card, you’ll need to find another source of money. Furthermore, it enhances security for newly delivered credit cards as PIN codes and credit cards are usually sent in separate mailings. Finally, it gives the credit card company a chance to open your account and get everything ready to go so you can start using your card right away when it does arrive.

Some caveats to instant approval credit cards

In almost all cases, instant approval credit cards are only available to permanent residents 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.

Additionally, you may not successfully complete an instant approval (even if you have good credit) if your credit profile has incomplete or inaccurate information.

Instant approval vs. guaranteed credit cards

Remember, an “instant approval credit card” isn’t the same as a 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 (like the Refresh Secured Card below). A secured card is a credit card made for people with bad credit and have little to no real application requirements. Made 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 the lack of rewards.

Refresh Secured Visa

  • Annual fee: $48
  • 17.99% interest rate on purchases
  • Credit limit is set by the amount of security deposit put down, between $200-$10,000
  • Application doesn’t require a credit check

The best instant approval credit cards

All of Canada’s big five banks offer credit cards with instant approval, as do a few other credit card providers including National Bank, American Express, MBNA Bank and Tangerine.

Here are a few cards we recommend:

Best overall rewards credit card with instant approval:

Scotiabank Gold American Express

  • Annual fee: $120
  • Earn 5 points per dollar spent on groceries, restaurants, cafes, and entertainment
  • Earn 3 points per dollar spent on gas, public transit, and streaming services
  • Earn 1 point per dollar spent on everything else
  • Welcome Offer: Get up to 20,000 bonus points (value: $200)
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Income requirement: $12,000

The Scotiabank Gold American Express Card offers some of the best rewards out there, including 5 points per dollar spent on gas, entertainment and restaurants, 3 points per dollar spent on gas and travel, and 1 point per dollar spent on everyday purchases. It also has no foreign transaction fee, great travel insurance coverage, and a low minimum annual income requirement. And when you apply online, you can get instantly approved if you qualify.

Best no fee credit card with instant approval:

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

  • No annual fee
  • Earn 2% cash back on purchases in up to three categories of your choice, and 0.5% cash back on everything else
  • Income requirement: $12,000

The Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card lets you choose three of your favourite spending categories to earn 2% cash back and offers 0.5% cash back on all other categories. In addition to a low minimum income requirement, this credit card also has no annual fee, making it one of the best credit cards with instant approval.

Best cashback credit card with instant approval:

TD Cash Back Visa Infinite Card

  • Annual fee: $120 (waived for first year)
  • Welcome Offer: Earn 6% cash back on eligible purchases for first 3 months (on up to $2,000 in spending)
  • Once offer ends, get 3% cash back on gas, groceries and recurring bills
  • Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Complimentary roadside assistance and travel insurance benefits
  • Income requirement: $60,000

The TD Cash Back Visa Infinite card offers 3% cash back on groceries, gas and bills, and 1% cash back on other categories, making it one of the best cash back credit cards in Canada.

Until May 31, 2021, this card also offers 6% cash back on all purchases made in the first 3 months up to a maximum of $2,000 in purchases.

Best travel credit card with instant approval:

BMO World Elite Mastercard

  • $150 annual fee (waived for the first year)
  • Earn 3 BMO Rewards points per dollar on travel, dining and entertainment purchases; 2 points per dollar on everything else
  • Earn 35,000 bonus points (value: $250) after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months
  • VIP lounge access with the included Mastercard Airport Experiences membership, plus 4 complimentary passes per year ($140 value)
  • Income requirement: $80,000

The BMO World Elite Mastercard offers 3 points per dollar spent on travel, restaurants and entertainment, plus 2 points per dollar spent on other categories. It also features best-in-class travel and medical insurance and great flexibility in redeeming rewards for travel. The only downside to this card is its relatively high income requirement of either $80,000 personal income or $150,000 household income per year to qualify. But those who qualify can be approved instantly.

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 online credit card comparison tool can help you find the best credit card for you and apply online for instant approval.

categories: Credit Cards