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Finding the best instant decision credit card

What is an instant decision credit card?

The majority of providers offer online credit card applications. Instant decision credit cards make applying even easier by approving or declining an application within minutes. The outcome is almost immediate because it's based on a credit referencing agency score. But while the decision itself will be quick, a credit card will still need to be posted and sometimes there'll be an agreement to sign.

Although they're easy to apply for, it's best not to make repeated application attempts if declined, as this will affect a credit score in the same way as repeatedly applying for a credit card in a bank. And the choice of credit card to apply for should be based on how appropriate the card is, not on how quick it is to apply. See our full guide here to instant decision credit cards for more details about how online applications work.

How to look for the best deal

Instant access credit cards tend to fall under two categories: high APRs and low credit limits for those who are new to credit or have little credit history; and lower APRs and higher limits for those with better credit history. Carefully reading any exclusions and features of a card before applying can help prevent being rejected for an unsuitable application.

It's important to consider other features of a card to ensure it's offering the best deal. Usually it's better to have a low APR, but paying off a credit card in full before the end of each month can save paying any interest. If it's unlikely this will be possible, it may be better to opt for a lower interest credit card or a different way of borrowing.

Aside from the APR and credit limit on an instant access credit card, other features to take into consideration include: if there is a balance transfer facility; any fees that could make the card less cost effective; and if it offers cashback rewards, points or discounts.

Getting an instant decision

An instant access credit card application will either be accepted, rejected or referred on for closer review. If it's accepted an agreement will need to be signed before the credit card's posted out. Some agreements can be signed online saving time by not having to wait for paperwork to arrive. If an application is declined, a provider may still get in touch to explain why it wasn't successful.

In some cases, an application may be referred and a credit card provider will get in contact to ask for further information before proceeding with any decision. And some providers, particularly those offering instant access to people with poor credit history, will always speak with a customer before accepting an application.

Understanding credit card eligibility

Before applying for any instant decision credit card, it's a good idea to read any exclusions. Making an application without understanding eligibility can cause unnecessary damage to credit history when an application is rejected. After applying, a credit check will be carried out by the provider and the application will be rated based on credit score.

How providers assess credit scores varies greatly and they'll look at multiple factors to assess whether an applicant is too risky to accept. These can include: any missed payments on loans or credit cards; any bankruptcies; and if there are any County Court Judgements (CCJs). Some providers, for example those offering credit builder credit cards, won't necessarily reject an application with credit history problems. But again, it's vital to understand eligibility before applying.

Avoiding multiple credit applications

Instant decision credit cards are convenient as applications are quick and easy. But this shouldn't lead to the temptation to apply for multiple cards in a short space of time. If rejected, multiple applications can be damaging to a credit history; other providers will be wary of lending to an applicant with a record of too many rejections.

Rather than make repeated applications, it may be worth getting a credit check to look for reasons why an application was rejected or to pinpoint credit history mistakes including incorrect addresses. In many cases credit reports can be accessed free of charge or for a small fee and will reflect better on a credit history than repeatedly applying and getting rejected.

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