What is an 'instant decision' credit card application?
How it works: You apply for a credit card online, typically through the bank or card company's own website, and receive some sort of a decision within minutes. In those minutes, the bank's system will check your credit worthiness (your borrowing and repayment history, usually abstracted in the form of a credit score), verify your identity, and cross-check your information to see whether it may be linked to any fraudulent activity. The bank will compare your information against their profile of a desirable borrower for the particular offer, and spit out a decision in a few minutes. This makes instant decision applications significantly faster than standard applications, which require days or weeks of waiting.
It's important to note that a bank won't always give you an instant answer to an 'instant' application. If your profile is a close call, they may ask you to call them and supplement your application with further information. Finally, an instant decision does not mean instant credit. You will typically not have access to your new credit until you receive and activate the card, after the bank mails it to you.
How to improve your chances of getting your credit card application approved.
If you're getting rejected for credit cards, you can usually find out why. First, the bank will mail you a rejection notice including the reason for their decision. You can also call them to try and get additional information about why you were rejected. Armed with that information, you may be able to make improvements to the factors affecting your decision before making your next application. Here are some ways to make yourself more attractive to banks and credit card companies:
- Above all, pay your bills on time (lenders can see with detail how you are at making payments); your payment history accounts for 35% of your overall credit score
- Close credit lines you're not using, especially if they are newer or are retail/specialty cards
- Apply to cards specifically targeted at people with mixed or poor credit
- Pay down some of your balances to achieve a better credit utilization ratio (which compares your available (unused) credit to your total approved credit)