There are quite a few good instant approval credit cards out there, but some stand out above the rest for their impressive welcome bonuses, promotional cash back rates, and excellent rewards. I constantly keep up with the latest promo rates and policy changes and make my recommendations below based on years of experience.
I recommend the American Express Cobalt Card as the #1 instant approval credit card in Canada due to its low monthly fees, very high earn rate on Eats & Drinks, and 30,000 welcome bonus points. It is one of the most flexible cards, with the option to transfer your points to other programs, and it comes with comprehensive insurance.
What Are Instant Approval Credit Cards?
Instant approval credit cards are a type of credit card that approve (or decline) credit card applications instantly (or within a very short timeframe). These cards usually come in two groups: premium instant approval cards, which have high credit score requirements and annual fees, and no-fee instant approval cards (like secured credit cards), which have little-to-no score requirements and generally require a security deposit.
Premium instant approval cards have an average annual fee between $120-$150 and there are great options if you’re looking for a cash back or a travel credit card with excellent perks. Score requirements start at 660 and can go as high as 760. On the other hand, secured and no-fee cards that offer instant approval are very limited in terms of perks and benefits, and we can only recommend them if you have a bad credit score. Otherwise, you’re better off with a credit card that has higher requirements and better perks.
Without further ado, here are the best instant approval credit cards Canada has to offer:
The Best Instant Approval Credit Cards In Canada
- American Express Cobalt Card: Best for exchanging points with other rewards program
- BMO Eclipse Visa Infinite Card: Best for welcome bonus
- BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard: Best for comprehensive medical and travel insurance
- TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card: Best for point earn rate at partner stores
- Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card: Best for earning Scene+ points and no foreign transaction fees
- MBNA Rewards World Elite Mastercard: Best for flexible ways to redeem your points
- BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard: Best for travel perks and benefits
- American Express Platinum Card: Best for promotional earn rate for the first three months
- American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card: Best for hotel upgrades and access to lounges
How Do Instant Approval Credit Cards Work?
It works like this: issuers make a list of the requirement, and potential customers send them (this list may include financial information, a government-issued form of identification, and a valid address). Within minutes, the customer will receive a notification – approving or declining their application.
One of the biggest factors credit card issuers consider is the credit score. Usually, instant approval credit cards require a good score, but you may find lower-tier cards that don’t.
Pros & Cons Of An Instant Approval Credit Card
Pros: Why an Instant Approval Credit Card may be worth it
- Instant response – you will know for certain if your application was approved or declined
- You can start making online purchases as soon as they send the card number
- In case of an emergency, you can apply for an instant approval credit card
Cons: Why an Instant Approval Credit Card may not be worth it
- Some high-end Instant approval cards may require at least a good credit score (700+)
- It may not be your best option long term
How To Choose An Instant Approval Credit Card In Canada
Instant approval credit cards are regular credit cards that have the benefit that they can approve your application instantly. The things you should consider when picking a credit card are:
One of the first things you should consider when shopping for a credit card is the annual fee. Based on your spending habits and the type of card, the yearly fee may overcome all the benefits you would otherwise earn. Generally, paying a higher yearly fee means valuable rewards, but you still have to plan accordingly to make the most out of it. For example, if you’re considering a cash back card, you need to ensure you will earn more than the annual fee. The same applies to travel credit cards; if you’re not using the rewards, they may expire without adding any value to your investment.
Another important factor is the interest rates; if you find yourself falling behind often on credit card payments, it might be worth considering a low-interest credit card. The standard interest rate for credit cards is around 19.99%, which can easily outweigh the benefits if you miss payments often.
Welcome Bonus And Promotional Rates
Most credit cards in Canada come with a welcome bonus or promotional rates. Welcome bonuses are one-time rewards for new cardholders; they can come in the form of travel miles for travel credit cards or higher cash back rates for the first couple of months. In some cases, it might be worth signing up for credit cards, taking advantage of the welcome bonuses, and moving on to a different one. Just keep in mind that if you have to pay an annual fee for that card, you should take full advantage of it for the whole year.
How To Apply For An Instant Approval Credit Card In Canada
Before applying for instant approval credit care, here are some things you should consider. For starters, instant approval credit cards are just regular cards that have the option to be approved instantly – assuming all requirements are fulfilled. Here’s what you should keep an eye on:
In Canada, the minimum age to request a credit card is the age of the majority. Teens under that age can’t get approved for credit cards but can be added as authorized users to one of their guardian’s or parents’ credit cards. For reference, the age of the majority in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, and Saskatchewan is 18 years old. In all other provinces, the age of the majority is 19.
Proof of Identity
You will need to provide information verifying your identity. In this step, you can provide a photo of your Canadian passport, a driver’s license, a military ID, or an employee identification issued by the federal government.
Canadian credit cards are available to Canadian residents, work Visa holders, and citizens. If you’re not either of those, you will need to register with Equifax or TransUnion to provide your credit score information when you sign up for an instant approval credit card. You may also be required to visit a bank branch for more information.
If you don’t have a credit score, you might want to start with cards that don't have as many requirements, like a prepaid or secured credit card.
Instant approval credit cards in Canada require a good to excellent credit score, with an average minimum of 725. The higher your credit score, the more likely your application will be accepted, but whether your application is approved or not, you will get an answer in just a couple of minutes.
Keep in mind that some cards may require a lower or a higher credit score, depending on the issuer.
When you send out the application, you will need these documents:
- Full name
- Date of birth
- Canadian driver’s license or government-issued ID
- Physical address, email address, and phone number
- Employer information: name, phone number, and address
- Financial information, including income, expenses, and a recent paycheque or bank statement
You need to provide all the information to have your card approved. If you don’t, they may ask for additional information, and the process may take longer.
Instant Approval Credit Cards FAQs
Are Instant Approval Credit Cards Worth It?
Yes – instant approval credit cards are just regular credit cards, with the added perk of instant approval. Depending on what you’re looking for, you may benefit more from one type of card than another, it’s only a matter of finding the right card for you. If you make a lot of purchases at grocery stores or gas stations, a cash back card is ideal for you. A travel card is definitely for you if you travel a lot and want perks like cheaper flights and travel insurance.
What Is The Best Free Instant Approval Credit Card In Canada?
The best free Instant Approval Credit Card in Canada is the Neo Financial Mastercard. It comes with a promotional 4% cash back for the first 6 months, car insurance, and an extended warranty at select stores.
Can You Use A Credit Card As Soon As You Get Approved?
Yes. You can start using it immediately when the card issuer approves your application and sends you the credit card number. Keep in mind that you may have to wait a week for the physical card to arrive, but you can make online purchases immediately.
What Is A Fair Credit Score In Canada?
In Canada, a score of 560-659 is considered fair.
Credit scores range from 300-900, and Canada has two main credit bureaus: Equifax and TransUnion. Secured cards and prepaid credit cards are on the lower end of the scale, while instant approval credit cards are on the higher end. Scores ranging from:
- 760-900 are considered excellent
- 725-759 are considered very good
- 660-724 are considered good
- 560- 659 are considered fair
- 300-559 are considered poor
Is It True That After 7 Years Your Credit Is Clear In Canada?
Yes. In general, your credit report's negative information (including missed payments) is cleared after 6 years. These are considered ‘negative’ information:
- Missed payments on a debt (includes credit card debts)
- Accounts sent to a collection agency
Keep in mind the debt is not cleared – just the negative information that appears on your credit report.
What Credit Card Can I Get With Bad Credit In Canada?
The best cards for low credit are secured, prepaid, and low-interest secured credit cards. There are many credit card options in Canada, even if you have a bad score. With some of these options, you can start building your credit to eventually access the more premium options like instant approval credit cards.