If you wonder how credit card approval works you’ve come to the right place. Now that nearly all credit card applications have moved online, most cardholders pretty much expect an instant decision. So in essence, every card out there can be deemed an instant approval card if you have great credit.
When it comes to how credit cards get approved it’s really about your credit score. A great credit score means that you are a trustworthy borrower. Credit card companies are essentially money lenders and they don’t want to loan out money to someone who isn’t likely to pay them back. And credit scores are the main factor that lenders use to determine your creditworthiness.
So how credit card approval works is that the term instant approval really means that an instant decision can be made on your behalf. Sometimes the decision is positive and you’re approved, sometimes it’s negative and you’re denied and other times your application may go pending. ‘Pending’ generally means that the bank needs more information or wants to have an actual human take a look at your application. It’s not always a bad thing and sometimes “pending” applications do get approved.
If you’ve applied for a card recently you’ve probably seen promotional statements like “Get an Instant Decision” or “Approval in 60 Seconds or Less”. Nowadays, each credit card company has their own algorithm to determine your creditworthiness. They’ll take inputs like income, residential status (own/rent), credit history and more, and use all of that to make a decision. The application processing time could be anywhere from just a few seconds all the way up to a minute, or longer if they need more time to have a “live person” review your application.
We don’t know exactly how credit card approval works and what criteria banks use to determine instant approvals but there are a few things we know carry more weight than others. You should always ensure that you have a clean credit history with a low number of recent inquiries and of course the higher your credit score, the better. Income is also an important part of instant approvals since without income how would you pay back all the money you plan on spending?
I still get targeted credit card offers by mail all the time but I rarely apply using that method. Instead, I like to apply over the internet or by phone since I can find out immediately if I’ve been instantly approved or not. If you’re sent a targeted offer for a certain card, there is usually an invitation code that can be used for online and phone applications. Both of these options will allow you to get an instant decision and possibly approval.
Just because you’re approved though, doesn’t mean you’ll get your card right away. It could take anywhere from a few days to a couple weeks after you’re approved to get your card. One trick that you can use to get your card a little faster is to call in and ask for expedited shipping after you get instant approval. Many companies will actually waive the shipping fee and you could have your card rush delivered for free if you ask nicely.
Unfortunately, not everyone is going to be instantly approved. If you have a low credit score you might even be instantly denied. It’s important to know ahead of time what your score is and what type of card you’re applying for. If you have a sub 700 credit score it wouldn’t make much sense to apply for Chase’s top of the line card: The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
Instead you might want to consider an entry level card like the Chase Freedom Card. That way you can establish some positive credit history and the next time you apply, you’ll have a better chance at getting instantly approved.
If the credit card issuer is unable to make a decision, they will usually set your application to pending status. All this means is that their computers are unable to make a decision at this time.
Think of it as being put on the ‘wait list’. They couldn’t quite justify an instant approval but they also weren’t ready to outright deny you. Pending applications are usually a good thing though since there are many strategies and tips you can use to nudge your application in the right direction.
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