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The 7 best instant approval credit cards in Canada for 2022

Reading up on credit cards? Wondering what’s the best card for me? In under 60 seconds, CardFinder narrows down your top matches without impacting your credit score, no SIN required

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Jordan Lavin
  • 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. 
  • Instant approval doesn’t mean guaranteed approval. For cards that are super easy to get (even if you have bad credit), click here

Find your perfect credit card in under 60 seconds - No SIN required

  1. Tell us a bit about yourself

    Answer some questions so we can personalize our recommendations - this won't impact your credit score

  2. Check your eligibility

    We confirm your eligibility with our partner, TransUnion. This will be a ‘soft credit check’ which you can see but lenders cannot

  3. Find your perfect matches

    We show you the cards you’re most likely to want and most likely to get

let's get started

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.

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.

 

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. 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.

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 no fee points card with instant approval

Winner: PC Financial Mastercard

Learn more about the PC Financial Mastercard

Best overall rewards card with instant approval

Winner: American Express Cobalt

Learn more about the American Express Cobalt

Best credit card alternative

Winner: Koho Prepaid Mastercard

Learn more about the Koho Visa Card

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.

Find your perfect credit card in under 60 seconds - No SIN required

  1. Tell us a bit about yourself

    Answer some questions so we can personalize our recommendations - this won't impact your credit score

  2. Check your eligibility

    We confirm your eligibility with our partner, TransUnion. This will be a ‘soft credit check’ which you can see but lenders cannot

  3. Find your perfect matches

    We show you the cards you’re most likely to want and most likely to get

let's get started

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