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Instant Approval Credit Cards


Looking for an instant approval credit card? Watch out! Most people will send you directly to an expensive prepaid debit card – which isn’t a credit card at all! Before you apply, read through how to get approved for a credit card, and how to choose one that won’t bankrupt you in the process. Just because you have bad credit doesn’t mean you deserve a bad credit card.

4 steps to rehabbing your credit

First, let’s look at how to improve your credit so that you can qualify for a decent credit card. If your FICO score’s in the dumps, don’t despair: here are four simple steps you can take to get your score back on track.

  1. Pay off your credit card balances. Before you apply for a new credit card, try to pay off as much of your existing balance as you can. Even if you always pay off your bill every month and don’t accrue interest, lenders will look at how much of your credit line you’re using. It’s important to have as small of a balance as possible before you apply.
  2. Make your payments on time. Even if you have a spotty history, recent behavior is weighted more heavily than past behavior, so on-time payments will go a long way towards bringing your FICO score back up.
  3. Look for a secured credit card. These cards are easier to qualify for than regular (unsecured) credit cards, because you post an upfront deposit that guarantees your loan. Nevertheless, the card will still help you raise your credit score and build a good history.
  4. Check your credit report. Sometimes the credit reporting agencies make mistakes, and catching an inaccuracy is a quick and easy way to get your score up. You can get your report free from, or check out this blog post for more ways to check your score.

Your options if you have bad credit

If you can’t qualify for a regular credit card, you have a few options:

  • Secured credit cards, which are easier to qualify for because they require an upfront deposit that guarantees the loan. If you can get this card and make timely payments, you can “graduate” to an unsecured card.
  • Co-signers with good credit can put their names on the loan with you, using their established history to guarantee your debt. Contrary to popular belief, you can still build credit on a card with a co-signer.
  • Debit and prepaid debit cards are a way to store your cash, but they don’t help build up your credit score, no matter what you might hear!

In general, we recommend a good secured credit card as an alternative to instant approval credit cards. Our favorite is the Capital One Secured MasterCard, which lets you pay the security deposit over time, up to 80 days. Note that it does come with an annual fee, but the fee’s lower than most other secured cards.

Capital One® Secured MasterCard®
Capital One Secured MasterCard Credit Card
Apply Now

on Capital One's
secure website

  • Build credit with responsible use
  • Regular reporting to the 3 major credit bureaus
  • Your security deposit can get you a line up to $3,000
  • You may qualify for a credit line increase based on your payment history and creditworthiness
  • Build a financial foundation you can stand on with a card that gets you started
  • Use it like any MasterCard credit card, accepted at millions of locations worldwide
  • Get free access to your monthly credit score and credit tips using Capital One® Credit Tracker
  • Qualify with limited / bad credit
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Has annual fee
  • No rewards
  • High APR
Annual Fee Signup Bonus APR , Variable* APR Promotions
$29 You may qualify for a credit line increase based on your payment history and creditworthiness 22.9% (V) Purchase: None
Transfer: None

Beware! “Instant approval” cards to watch out for

If you search for “instant approval credit cards,” you might come up with sites recommending cards that simply aren’t good, like:

For more resources, check out our tips on bankruptcy scams and advice on how to get a credit card.

We want to hear from you and encourage a lively discussion among our users. Please help us keep our site clean and safe by following our posting guidelines, and avoid disclosing personal or sensitive information such as bank account or phone numbers. Any comments posted under NerdWallet's official account are not reviewed or endorsed by representatives of financial institutions affiliated with the reviewed products, unless explicitly stated otherwise.
  • Mallory Smith

    It says u need average credit to qualify for this card but i was approved with a score of 510 and i have serious deliquencies (medical bills) so even people with very poor credit can qualify:)

    • NerdWallet

      Hi Mallory,

      That’s great to hear! Hopefully others will have the same success.

      • mina

        hi..I try to apply to capital one but they are asking $300 deposits for security that a scam?can you help me which card I can apply coz I hav a bad credit.thank u

        • Ryan

          It’s not a scam, it’s a secured card. What that means is you have to put a minimum deposit of at least $300 that the credit card is secured by. That way if you run up the balance and skip out on the payments, the creditor keeps your deposit. It’s less risk for them on a high risk candidate. Hope that helps!! Good luck and congrats on the approval.

    • bilal

      which one???

  • George ONeil

    i got qualified for an unsecured capital one card with a score of 530. im glad there is a company out there that understands people go through life and needs a little help to get started again.

    • bilal

      which one ?

  • zp1146671


  • Dr Benson

    Do you need a loan apply now via for
    more information okay.
    Dr. Benson
    loan finance companies
    CEO … / MD

  • Manpreet Bhasin

    In my opinion one should not get Capital one card ever. Problem that no one mentions, they never graduate. So you have to close your account later no matter what, unless you keep paying them 30$ annual fee or close it and decreasing you average age per account. IMHO one should go for secured credit card from Bank of America or others, who graduate after a year and converts into regular credit card.

  • CatherineGotBandz

    I have a black card and i am offering purchases on items people want as long as they pay half the cost of the item to me up front and we have an agreement on how they will pay off the rest please i was not born yesterday i understand the dangers of this so no scams because i am no fool

    • joann

      how does someone use the card and terms?

      • CatherineGotBandz

        They simply tell me the item they want I buy it and ship it to them and they set up how they will be paying me back

        • Ashley

          That doesn’t sound very safe for you.

    • Kecia Dawn Virgil-Wright

      what exactly are you offering is it just items you are offering

  • joann

    looking for someone who has credit available for 30 days only willing to pay 25%

  • Carol Flowers

    I have a secured capital one card, paid it off every month and keep my balance low, under 30% of the limit. After six months they raised my 200.00 credit limited to $500.00. I then applied for their rewards card and was approved instantly with a 300.00 limited. I love Capital one, I am thinking about opening more products with them.

  • Lysa B

    I have no credit and capital one approved me for a 300.00 limit Thank you Capital One