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The 7 best instant approval credit cards in Canada for 2021

  • Instant approval credit cards make applying for a card quick and easy – letting you know whether your application is approved or rejected on the spot in just minutes.
  • If you’re instantly approved, expect to receive your physical card in the mail within 5 to 7 business days. 
  • The Canadian Tire Triangle Mastercard is the first instant-use credit card in Canada. You can add the card to your digital mobile wallet as soon as you’re approved online.
  • Instant approval doesn’t mean guaranteed approval. For cards that are super easy to get (even if you have bad credit), click here
Credit cardDetails 
Canadian Tire Mastercard (APPLY)
  • $0 annual fee
  • Add the card to your digital wallet (Apple/Android Pay) and use instantly after online approval
  • 4% at Canadian Tire, Sport Chek, and Mark’s
  • Up to 1.5% on groceries
  • 0.5% on everyday purchases
PC Mastercard (APPLY)
  • Annual fee: $0
  • 2.5% in PC points at Shoppers Drug Mart
  • Up to 3% in PC points at Esso/Mobil
  • 1% in PC points on everyday purchases
Amex SimplyCash Preferred (APPLY)
  • Annual fee: $99
  • 2% cash back on all purchases
Amex SimplyCash (APPLY)
  • Annual fee: $0
  • 1.25% cash back on all purchases
Amex Cobalt Card (APPLY)
  • Annual fee: $155.885x points on groceries and dining2x points on travel, transit, and gas3x points on eligible streaming subscriptions in Canada1 point per $1 on all other purchases
Refresh Financial (APPLY)
  • Annual fee: $48.95
  • No credit check required
  • Guaranteed approval
  • Secured card (min $300 deposit required)
Koho Prepaid Visa (APPLY)
  • Honourable mention
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Prepaid card: load and spend your own money
  • 0.5% cash back on all purchases
  • Optional credit building available ($7 per month)

Not sure which card to choose? Let us help you

Once upon a time, applying for a credit card meant stepping into 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 to 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 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 happens automatically 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 Transunion, 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
0-659Unlikely – Work on improving your credit to increase your odds of approval.
660-724Fair – 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 some American Express cards.
725-759Good
With a credit score over 725, you’re likely to be instantly approved for a wider range of cards.
760+Excellent – With excellent credit, you’ll likely be instantly approved for most 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?

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.

The one major exception to this rule is the Triangle Mastercard from Canadian Tire. The first card of its kind in the country, you can add the Triangle Mastercard to your digital mobile wallet (either Apple Pay or Android Pay) right away once you’re instantly approved online.

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.

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, instant approval 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 Visa below). 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.

Card details

  • 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, and Tangerine.

Here are a few instant approval cards we recommend:

Best credit card for instant-use

Winner: Triangle Mastercard

Card details

  • No annual fee
  • 4% in Canadian Tire Money at Canadian Tire, Sport Chek, and participating Mark®/L’Équipeur and Atmosphere locations
  • 1.5% on the first $12,000 spent at eligible grocery stores each year
  • 0.5% on everything else
  • Earn 5¢ per litre back in Canadian Tire Money at Gas+ and participating Husky locations

The Canadian Tire Triangle Mastercard has an edge over most other instant approval credit cards. Not only is it easy to get – with lenient underwriting and no income requirements – but you can use the card instantly, even before you receive the physical card in the mail.

As soon as you’re instantly approved online, you can add your new Triangle Mastercard to your digital wallet – either Apple Pay or Android Pay. Canadian Tire is the first credit card issuer in the country to offer this unique instant-use feature.

The Triangle Mastercard also earns impressive rewards for a no fee retail credit card. You can rack up significant bonuses when shopping at Canadian Tire, Sport Chek, Mark’s clothing stores, as well as Husky and Gas+ stations.

Cardholders also earn up to 1.5% at most grocery stores and 0.5% everywhere else. Rewards are earned in the form of Canadian Tire Money and redeemable at a rate of 1% for 1 cent off merchandise from Canadian Tire (just a note; earn rates are based on pre-tax prices).

The instant-use feature isn’t the only thing unique about the Triangle Mastercard as cardholders can access interest-free financing on eligible purchases (at least $150) from Canadian Tire and even use the card to pay for household bills not conventionally available to credit cards like tuition fees and property taxes.

Best no fee points card with instant approval

Winner: PC Mastercard

Card details

  • 25 PC Optimum Points per $1 spent at Shoppers Drug Mart
  • Up to 30 PC Optimum Points per $1 spent at Esso / Mobil
  • 10 PC Optimum Points per $1 spent on all other purchases

Like virtually all retail credit cards, the PC Financial Mastercard charges no annual fee and has more lenient approval requirements when compared to most credit cards issued directly by a bank. But it also stands apart for its solid rewards rate and huge network of affiliate stores (making earning and redeeming points easy).

Cardholders will earn 25 PC points per dollar at Shoppers Drug Mart, 30 points at Esso/Mobil gas stations, and 10 points per dollar everywhere else.

PC points are redeemable in flat increments of 10,000 points for $10 (10 points equals 1% in store credit) at over 2,500 retail locations from Shoppers Drug Mart and Loblaws’ network of grocery stores (including No Frills and Real Canadian Superstore) to Joefresh.ca.

If you earn a higher income (at least $60,000 or $80,000), you’ll automatically be considered eligible for PC’s more premium cards, including the PC World or PC World Elite.

Best cash back card with instant approval

Winner: Amex SimplyCash Preferred

Card details

  • Annual fee: $99
  • Earn 2% cash back on all purchases

Despite being a premium rewards card – with an industry-leading 2% cash back on everything you buy and premium perks like comprehensive travel insurance – the Amex SimplyCash Preferred doesn’t come with any specific income requirements. For context, most comparable Visa and Mastercards demand applicants earn an annual income of at least $60,000 or $80,000 respectively.

The Amex SimplyCash Preferred also sets itself apart for its below-average annual fee of $99 (as opposed to the standard $120-$150) and not charging extra fees for secondary cardholders.

If you’re not interested in perks or don’t suspect you’ll earn enough cash back on the card to offset its annual fee, consider the Amex SimplyCash – a no fee alternative that earns an accelerated 1.25% cash back on all purchases.

Best overall rewards card with instant approval

Winner: American Express Cobalt

Card details

  • Annual fee: $120 (charged at $10 monthly), but increasing to $155.88 (charged at $12.99 monthly).
  • Welcome Bonus of 20,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend a total of $3,000 in purchases on your Card in your first 3 months of Cardmembership
  • Earn 5 points per $1 on groceries and dining
  • Earn 2 points per $1 on travel, gas, and daily transit
  • Earn 3x the points on eligible streaming subscriptions in Canada
  • Earn 1 point per $1 on all purchases
  • Transfer points 1:1 to several frequent flyer and other loyalty programs

The American Express Cobalt is one of the highest-earning rewards cards out there, offering up to 5 points per dollar on groceries and restaurants. 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.

Best credit card alternative

Winner: Koho Prepaid Visa Card

Card details

  • Annual fee: $0
  • 1.5% cash back on all purchases for the first 90 days
  • 0.5% cash back on everything after 90 days
  • Easily load your card with cash via e-transers

 

The Koho Visa Card isn’t a credit card but a prepaid card, which means you’ll be spending your own money instead of being assigned a credit limit. Think of it like a pseudo debit card.

It’s a great alternative if you’re looking to earn rewards on your everyday spending but don’t have the best credit or want to avoid the potential pitfalls of racking up debt. You won’t need to go through a credit check or approval process (since, again, you’re using your own money) and there are no monthly account fees.

As an added plus, if you do want help building (or rebuilding) your credit, you can tap Koho’s optional credit building feature (costs an additional $7 per month).

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.

Not sure which card to choose? Let us help you

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