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Instant decision credit cards

Find a credit card that will let you know if you'll be accepted instantly

Instant decision credit cards let you know straight away if you'll be rejected for them or not
Instant decision credit cards
Find a card that lets you know straight away if you'll be rejected to not
Capital OneTesco BankSantanderVirgin MoneyBritish AirwaysBarclaycardAmerican ExpressM&S BankVirgin AtlanticHSBCCapital OneTesco BankSantanderVirgin MoneyBritish AirwaysBarclaycardAmerican ExpressM&S BankVirgin AtlanticHSBC
Last updated
January 09, 2023
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Uswitch Limited is a credit broker, not a lender, for consumer credit.
Our services are provided at no cost to you. We may receive a commission from the companies we refer you to, but this does not affect what you will pay for the product you choose.

What are instant credit cards?

Instant decision credit cards let you know whether you have been accepted or not as soon as you have finished your application.

This means you don’t have to wait to see if you have access to credit and if you are declined you may be able to apply for a different product right away.

While most credit cards can be quickly applied for online, in many cases after making an application it can take a card provider a few days to a week to get in touch within with the outcome of the application.

An instant credit card typically gives you an answer in as little as 60 seconds as to whether or not you’ve been successful.

Many card providers have introduced instant decision technology as a marketing tool to encourage new customers to apply.

UK credit card holders[1]
53million

How do instant decision credit cards work?

After submitting your application online there are three possible decisions that will be made:
Accepted

If your credit score is good and matches the criteria you’ll be instantly accepted.

Rejected

If your credit score is poor you’re likely instantly declined, but most credit card providers will at least get in touch to explain why your application was declined.

Referred

If you have been referred, your application was too close to make an automatic judgement on. They may request additional information to complete the application process.

How long will it take to receive an instant decision credit card?

Upon being accepted you will still need to wait for confirmation or for the card to arrive by post.

With advancements in technology, credit card providers can issue new cards more quickly then ever before - with cards typically arriving in between 5 and 14 days of the application being approved.

You may need to confirm the application by signing an agreement and posting it back before you card is issued. However, most companies now use electronic signing for online applications.

Sadly, despite many online stores and apps existing that let you pay with your phone, you'll need to wait for your card to physically arrive before you can activate it..

After that, you can start using it more or less instantly.

There are no instant approval virtual cards in the UK, although there are some virtual debit cards."

Watch: What should and shouldn't you use your credit card for

Can I get and use credit card instantly?

No. Rules in the UK mean you need to pass several checks before a card is issued to you.

You will also need to receive the physical card before you can activate it and use it online or for services like Google Pay and Apple Pay.

Even providers that offer instant virtual cards in the USA and operate in Britain, such as American Express, don't offer the service in the UK.

Rules here say to be eligible for a credit card you need to be:

  • 18 or older

  • A UK resident

  • Not legally restricted from obtaining credit 

That's not possible to check over the internet alone, so all cards are posted out before they can be activated.

Does getting instant decision matter?

While instant decision credit cards can keep the hassle of applying for a card to a minimum, it’s shouldn’t be the only criteria you consider before making an application.

Make sure to examine all the features of the card to see if it’s offering the benefits and rewards you want, and you’ll be paying the best APR.

Also beware that too many formal applications as this can damage your chances of getting credit.

That's because every formal application is recorded on your credit report for other lenders to see, and having a lot of them in a small space of time can make you look desperate for cash.

If you’ve been rejected rather than applying again, it could be worth getting a credit report to see why you’ve been declined.

Many credit-card providers have online pre-application checks. Unlike with your actual credit card application this is a ‘soft-search’ credit check, which won’t be visible on your credit history to other lenders.

However, this might not exactly match your credit score, but it should give you a rough idea whether you’ll be accepted or not.

You can also use an eligibility checker like our card finder tool to see which cards are most likely to accept you before applying.

Use an eligibility checker before applying when possible to minimise your chances of being rejected."

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Our card finder tool shows you which of our cards are most likely to accept you before you apply
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What is the easiest card to get approved for?

The easiest cards to get approved on are credit card cards designed for bad credit and credit building credit cards.

These are designed especially for people with lower credit scores or limited credit histories - for example if you've just moved to the UK.

However, they tend to come with lower credit limits and higher interest rates than standard credit cards.

That means it's always a good idea to use an eligibility tool to see if you'll qualify for a better card than you might imagine.

The easiest cards to get approved for might not be the best for you."

Instant decision credit card FAQs

Will an instant decision credit card affect my credit rating?

Many instant credit cards offer a 'soft search ' credit check, which means that it shouldn’t impact your credit score if you're rejected.

Eligibility checkers used ahead of applications also leave no visible footprints on your credit report.

However, if you're accepted and proceed, your application will be recorded and will be visible if a company does a credit check on you.

Also, be aware that too many formal applications can damage your credit rating - so always choose a soft search option or eligibility check if it's available

If you’ve been rejected rather than applying again, it could be worth getting a credit report to see why you’ve been declined.

Credit scoring is a measure of how credit worthy a lender thinks you are, based on a picture of your current financial circumstances.

Am I likely to be eligible for an instant decision credit card?

That depends on your personal financial circumstances and your credit rating. It also depends on how much potential credit you already have, and whether you have made a lot of recent applications for credit.

There are bad credit instant decision credit cards available for people with a less than perfect credit history.

Are instant decision credit cards available for bad credit?

There are instant credit cards available for those with bad credit, though these typically come with higher APRs and lower credit limits.

The better your credit rating, the better the offers you’ll be able to get on your credit card, so its always a good idea to have the best credit rating you can.

If you don't think you can clear your balance at the end of each month a low APR credit card may be more suitable.

What does 'most popular and ‘popularity’ mean?

When we use the term ‘most popular or ‘popularity’ on Uswitch in reference to credit cards, these cards are ranked by the number of clicks they have received on the site in the past 48 hours.

The most clicked on cards are at the top, with the least at the bottom. This reflects how popular they are with visitors to Uswitch.com. Consequently, this is a good table to look at if you’re interested in seeing which cards most people think are worth getting.

What is APR?

APR stands for "annual percentage rate" - it's the interest rate charged on money borrowed on you credit card.

It's typically stated as a yearly interest rate and includes any fees and costs associated with the card.

So if you borrow £100 at 20% APR you'll pay £20 interest on that loan over a year.

In most cases you can avoid paying interest by paying off your credit card balance in full by the due date of every billing cycle.

Do I have to pay more interest on an instant decision credit card?

There are a range of interest rates available on instant decision credit cards.

Some instant decision credit cards may not offer the most competitive interest rates, which are referred to as APR or AER rates.

If you want a credit card and plan to pay off the outstanding balance in full each month, then you do not need to worry too much about the card’s APR.

However, if you think you might not pay off the balance in full, then the APR and interest rate are very important.

The higher the APR, the more you will pay in interest, and potentially, the longer it will take you to pay off your credit.

Does Uswitch compare all the credit cards on the market?

We compare credit over 100 credit cards from all of the major banks and credit card providers.

However, we do not compare all the credit cards that are available in the UK.

This is because some credit card providers have offers that are only available exclusively through their own website or branch, or through other comparison websites - in the same way some credit cards are exclusively available through Uswitch.

There are also many credit cards that are only available to people in member organisations and clubs.

Credit card guides

Find out more about how credit cards work with our in-depth guides
How many credit cards can you have?
How many credit cards can you have?
How to use a credit card
How to use a credit card
What are the differences between credit and debit card?
What are the differences between credit and debit card?

About the author

James Andrews
James has spent the past 20 years writing about and editing personal finance articles and guides in the UK. His driving mission has been to help people make better decisions with their money.

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