At a Glance
If you’re in need of a credit card ASAP, you’re in luck. Thanks to mobile apps and online applications, many credit card issuers are making it easier than ever to access your credit card details in an instant, meaning there’s no need to wait for your physical card to arrive in the mail. So, if you’re looking for a credit card that not only provides instant access but also offers some great benefits, look no further than these top picks.
In this article, you’ll learn:
Comparing the top credit cards for instant use
|Credit Card||Rewards Rate||Signup Bonus|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||5 points per $1 spent on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3 points per $1 spent on dining (including eligible delivery services and takeout).
3 points per $1 spent on select streaming services.
3 points per $1 spent on online grocery purchases (not including Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs).
2 points per $1 spent on travel not purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
1 point per $1 spent on other purchases.
|Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.|
|Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express||6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $6,000 in spending per year.
6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
3% cash back at U.S. gas stations.
3% cash back on transit.
1% cash back on other purchases.
|Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.|
|Apple Card||3% cash back on Apple purchases and at select merchants, 2% cash back on Apple Pay purchases, 1% cash back on all other purchases||N/A|
|Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express||3% back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 spent per year.
3% back at U.S. gas stations on up to $6,000 spent per year.
3% back on U.S. online retail purchases on up to $6,000 spent per year.
1% back on other purchases.
|Earn a $200 statement credit after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.|
*Updated as of September 2023
A closer look at the best instant use credit cards
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- 5 points per $1 spent on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- 3 points per $1 spent on dining (including eligible delivery services and takeout).
- 3 points per $1 spent on select streaming services.
- 3 points per $1 spent on online grocery purchases (not including Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs).
- 2 points per $1 spent on travel not purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- 1 point per $1 spent on other purchases.
Annual fee: $95
Intro APR: N/A
Regular APR: 21.49%-28.49% Variable
Signup bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Our verdict: The Sapphire Preferred is an excellent entryway into the world of travel cards thanks to its trip cancellation, lost luggage, and rental car insurance. Plus, using Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal will give you even more bang for your buck when booking travel.
- $50 annual hotel credit if purchased via Ultimate Rewards
- 10% point bonus every year
- Multiple transfer partners
- $95 annual fee
- Complicated redemption options
- Need to use Ultimate Rewards platform to reap most of the earning benefits
Apply now: Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
- 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $6,000 in spending per year.
- 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
- 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations.
- 3% cash back on transit.
- 1% cash back on other purchases.
- Terms apply.
Annual fee: $0 the first year, then $95
Intro APR: 0% intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers
Regular APR: 19.24%-29.99% Variable
Signup bonus: Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.
Our verdict: Want easy bonus categories that don’t require opting in or rotating quarterly? This is the card for you. Not only does it come with generous cash back options at daily spend categories, but cardholders also get a yearly $84 credit for the Disney bundle plus a $120 on-demand Equinox Plus credit, too.
- 6% back at supermarkets and on streaming subscriptions
- $84 annual Disney Bundle credit
- 3% back at gas stations and on transit
- $95 annual fee after first year
- $6,000 spending cap at supermarkets
Rewards rate: 3% cash back on Apple purchases and at select merchants, 2% cash back on Apple Pay purchases, 1% cash back on all other purchases
Annual fee: $0
Intro APR: N/A
Regular APR: 0% APR always available on new purchases from Apple, all other purchases 15.99%-26.99%, Variable
Signup bonus: None
Our verdict: If you’re someone who uses Apple Pay a lot or loves to expand their collection of Apple products, this card is for you. With its daily cash back refunds and generous 0% APR on Apple purchases, you’re sure to love using this credit card – as long as you’re doing it via your digital wallet.
- $0 Annual fee
- 0% APR on all new Apple purchases
- Daily cash back refunds
- Not a great earner if you use it outside of Apple pay
- No intro offers or signup bonuses
Apply now: Apple Card
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
- 3% back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 spent per year.
- 3% back at U.S. gas stations on up to $6,000 spent per year.
- 3% back on U.S. online retail purchases of up to $6,000 spent per year.
- 1% back on other purchases.
- Terms apply.
- Annual fee: $0
Intro APR: 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
Regular APR: 19.24%-29.99% Variable
Signup bonus: Earn a $200 statement credit after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.
Our verdict: One of the most popular cards for groceries and gas stations, the Blue Cash Everyday is a great daily card. Cardholders also get an $84 yearly credit for the Disney Bundle and a $180 yearly Home Chef credit, too.
- No annual fee
- 3% back at supermarkets, gas stations, and online purchases
- Disney bundle credit
- $6,000 spending caps for bonus categories
- Yearly credits are doled out in monthly installments
Major issuers’ policies on instant credit access
1. American Express
American Express offers an instant card number upon approval for all American Express credit cards. However, co-branded Amex cards will typically only offer temporary numbers to be used at the location of the co-branded company (i.e. the Hilton cards will offer temporary access to spend at a Hilton location only).
2. Bank of America
Approved credit card customers can get their account numbers directly from the Bank of America mobile app and can upload the card immediately to their digital wallet.
3. Capital One
Capital One does not offer instant card access at this time.
Chase offers a “Spend Instantly” feature for some of its cards which you can access via the Chase mobile app. The cards that don’t have instant access include:
- Aeroplan Credit Card
- Amazon-branded cards
- Business cards
- Chase Freedom Flex
- Disney branded cards
- DoorDash Rewards Mastercard
- Instacart Mastercard
- IHG branded cards.
Citi offers instant access to approved users of these credit cards:
- Citi Custom Cash Card
- Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard (Note: Your temporary card will only be available for use via the American Airlines website)
- Costco Anywhere Visa Card
Discover does not offer instant card access at this time.
7. U.S. Bank
U.S. Bank has only recently launched the ability for users to access their credit card numbers instantly after approval, but it’s currently limited to those who had their applications processed with the text-to-apply option. However, the bank announced it plans to expand instant access soon.
8. Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo currently only offers instant access to cardholders of the Bilt World Elite Mastercard Credit Card via the Bilt mobile app.
How to pick a credit card with an instant card number
When searching for a credit card that offers instant card access, there are a few factors to consider. Here are some tips to help you pick the best credit card with an instant card number:
- Research major issuers: Start by researching major credit card issuers like Chase, American Express, Capital One, and Citibank. These issuers often provide the option for instant card access.
- Check issuer policies: Each credit card issuer has its own policies regarding instant card access. Some may offer virtual card numbers that you can use immediately for online purchases, while others may allow you to add your card to a mobile wallet like Apple Pay or Google Pay for instant use.
- Look for online application options: Applying for a credit card online often increases your chances of getting instant access. Look for issuers that offer online applications and instant approval processes.
- Credit score requirements: Keep in mind that credit card issuers may have certain credit score requirements for instant card access. Ensure that your credit score meets their criteria before applying.
- Read customer reviews: Look for customer reviews to get an idea of how quickly other cardholders received their card numbers or access. This will give you insight into the issuer’s efficiency in providing instant card access.
- Compare benefits and features: While instant card access is important, don’t forget to consider the overall benefits and features of the credit card. Look for rewards programs, low-interest rates, cashback options, and any other benefits that align with your financial goals and spending habits.
What is the easiest instant credit card to get?
The easiest instant credit card to get will depend on your individual financial situation and credit history. However, there are a few credit cards that are generally known for their relatively lenient approval requirements and potential for instant card access. Here are a few options to consider:
- Chase Freedom Unlimited
- Blue Cash Everday Card from American Express
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Remember, while these cards may offer the potential for instant card access, approval is never guaranteed. It’s important to review the specific requirements and terms of each credit card before applying to see if it aligns with your financial situation and goals.
The methodology used to calculate the best cards for instant use relied on several factors, with the most prominent of those being:
- The required credit score to apply successfully for the card
- The additional benefits offered by the card beyond rewards
- The rewards rate of the card, if applicable
- Overall difficulty in securing a credit card with fair credit
- The history of the card issuer itself
- Any potential costs associated with owning the credit card
The product information provided here is based on research conducted up to a specific date and may have changed. For the latest and most accurate information, we recommend you to visit the respective card’s website before proceeding.
Yes, it is possible to use a new credit card before it physically arrives in the mail. Some credit card issuers offer the ability to get an instant card number upon approval, which allows you to make online purchases right away. However, it is important to note that this option may not be available for all credit cards and will depend on the policies of the specific issuer.
After activating a credit card, it is typically recommended to wait at least 2 hours before using it, though some issuers will recommend you wait 12-24 hours. This allows the card issuer to fully process the activation and ensure that the card is ready for use. Waiting this short period of time also helps to prevent any potential issues or errors that may arise during the activation process.
Yes, you can typically use a virtual credit card right away. Virtual credit cards are generated instantly upon approval and can be used for online purchases immediately. They provide a temporary card number, expiration date, and security code that can be used for online transactions. However, it’s important to note that virtual credit cards may have limitations and may not be accepted by all merchants.