The best instant approval credit cards in Canada 2022 - MoneySense

The best instant approval credit cards in Canada 2022

woman at cafe using instant approval credit card

The approval process for a new credit card can feel punishing—especially if you have to wait several days for confirmation and then for your card to be mailed to your home. Luckily, many credit cards now offer instant approval, making the application process much quicker and much less stressful. After filling out an application, the card provider’s website runs its checks and lets you know within minutes if your application has been approved or rejected. 

If you’re approved based on the information you’ve provided, your application is expedited for credit checks, card printing and mailing. And you can expect to receive your card in five to seven business days. 

As a safeguard against fraud, at times an application may go under manual review, in which case the file gets forwarded for verification, sometimes taking an additional two to three business days before a final decision is made. 

As banking processes become increasingly digital, many credit-card applications are online, and more issuers are offering cards with applications that can be quickly approved.

Here are the instant approval credit card offers available in Canada right now. 

Best instant-approval credit cards in Canada:

  • Best instant use card — Canadian Tire Triangle Mastercard
  • Best overall rewards credit card — American Express Cobalt 
  • Best rewards card — PC Financial Mastercard 
  • Best cash-back card — American Express SimplyCash Preferred
  • Best secured card — Plastk Secured Visa
  • Best low-interest credit card — BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard
  • Best no credit check requirement card — Refresh Financial Secured Visa
  • Best guaranteed approval card — Neo Financial Mastercard; Capital One Guaranteed Mastercard
  • Best online card — Tangerine Money-Back Mastercard
  • What is an instant approval credit card?

    Instant approval credit cards come with an expedited approval process through a streamlined—practically instant—application and approval process that will help to save you time and stress. Rather than applying and waiting for the final decision to come through, the issuer will let you know immediately whether you’ve been approved or if your application requires a manual review. 

    Canadian Tire’s Triangle Mastercard allows newly approved cardholders to immediately make purchases on their card via Apple Pay or Google Pay before they receive their physical credit card in the mail.

    What do you need to get instantly approved for a credit card?

  • You must be a permanent resident or Canadian citizen (although some cards offer a longer application form if you’re not a permanent resident of Canada)
  • You must be the age of majority (18 or 19 and older, depending on the province you reside in)
  • You must not have a history of bankruptcy if you’re applying for an unsecured credit card (that’s most rewards and low-interest credit card options)
  • A good credit score will increase your chances of being approved, whether you’re applying for a secured or an unsecured card
  • Instant-approval applications require accurate information that matches any previous background information the provider or bank may already have on file (if you have another card from that provider or you bank with that institution already), your social insurance number, employment and income information, and other optional information. The more information you provide, the more effectively the approval process can verify that you are indeed… well, you

    If you’re approved instantly, the system will expedite your application for proper credit checks, though you may still be contacted for further confirmation of other details. Shortly after, your card will be printed and mailed to the address you’ve indicated. All cards require a credit check or score pull, with the exception of applications where you already have an established history with the institution, or when the credit card you’ve applied for is secured, meaning you would have provided a security deposit. 

    Best instant-approval credit cards in Canada

    Instant approval is available through a growing range of credit card providers, in a number of different categories. We’ve rounded up the best to help you choose the right instant-approval credit card for your needs.

    Best credit card to use right away 

    Canadian Tire Triangle Mastercard*

    The Canadian Tire Triangle Mastercard is a great option if you shop regularly at Canadian Tire, as well as CT Gas+, Sport Chek, Mark’s and other retailers in the Canadian Tire family. If you apply at a Canadian Tire store and are approved, you may use the card immediately, rather than waiting for it in the mail. Or, if you apply online for instant credit and are approved right away, you’ll be able to proceed to checkout, where your card details will be pre-filled in the payments section—so you can start earning 4% back on qualifying purchases immediately. You can also use your card through the Apple Pay or Google Pay apps to make purchases before you receive your physical card in the mail.

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Interest rate: Purchases 19.99%, cash advances 22.99%
  • Rewards at partner locations: 4% in Canadian Tire Money on purchases at Canadian Tire and partner stores
  • Rewards on everything else: 1.5% on the first $12,000 spent on groceries per calendar year (excluding Costco and Walmart); 0.5% on everything else
  • Income requirement: None
  • Additional benefits: Personalized offers and exclusive bonuses; member-only events; extended warranty
  • Get more details about the Canadian Tire Triangle Mastercard*

    Best rewards credit card 

    American Express Cobalt Card*

    The American Express Cobalt follows in the footsteps of Netflix, Spotify and other subscription services by charging a $12.99 monthly fee to use the card, as opposed to an annual fee of $155.88. Combined with a generous earn rate of 5 points per $1 on eligible restaurants, bars, cafés and food delivery in Canada, this card is definitely aimed at busy millennials who are out and about town with friends, as well as frequent travellers. On travel, you’ll earn 2 points per $1 on eligible transit and gas purchases in Canada, as well as travel purchases like flights and hotel, and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases. 

    Points are collected under American Express’s Membership Rewards Select program, so you can’t transfer points to Aeroplan or partner airline programs like you can with other Amex cards, but you may redeem for travel directly on the American Express Travel portal under the “fixed” and “flexible” points redemption schedules. Additionally, you may transfer points to select hotel programs like Marriott Bonvoy or Hilton Honors, or even redeem points for cash back on your statement. 

  • Annual fee: $155.88, billed $12.99 every month
  • Interest rate: Purchases 20.99%, cash advances 21.99%
  • Earn rate: 5 points for every $1 spent on eligible restaurants, bars, cafés and food delivery in Canada; 2 points per $1 spent on eligible transit and gas purchases in Canada, as well as travel purchases like flights and hotel; 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • Welcome bonus: In the first year, you’ll earn 2,500 points when you spend $500 per month on eligible purchases—earning you up to 30,000 points.
  • Additional perks: Emergency medical coverage; flight and baggage delay insurance; car rental theft and damage insurance; purchase protection; access to American Express Invites and Front of the Line by American Express
  • Income required: None specified
  • Get more details about the American Express Cobalt*

    Best no-fee rewards credit card

    PC Financial Mastercard*

    PC Financial offers one of the strongest no-fee rewards credit cards for everyday essentials. Given the wide range of stores under the President’s Choice/Loblaw umbrella—including Loblaws, No Frills, Fortinos, Real Canadian Superstore, Shoppers Drug Mart and Joe Fresh—this Mastercard is great for frequent shoppers favouring premium earning rates from grocery and pharmacy, as well as gas fill-ups at Esso and Mobil stations. You can earn at least 25 PC Optimum points per $1 at Shoppers Drug Mart, 30 points per $10 at Esso and Mobil stations, and 10 points per $1 everywhere else. And redeeming points is dead simple: 10,000 points equals a $10 store credit (equivalent 10 points for 1% in rewards) at PC-affiliated stores. Enriched by the PC Optimum program, this card allows you to take advantage of weekly points offers to earn more. 

    Within minutes of submitting your online application, you should receive an approval decision. And since it’s a store card, eligibility is often more lenient than with traditional bank credit cards. PC Financial also reviews your income as consideration for the PC Financial World Mastercard ($60,000 personal or $100,000 household) and World Elite Mastercard ($80,000 personal or $150,000 household) credit cards. (Each gives bonus points for everyday purchases at PC-affiliated retailers.)  

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Interest rate: Purchases 20.97%, cash advances 22.97% (21.97% for Quebec residents)
  • Earn rates: At least 25 points per $1 at Shoppers Drug Mart; 30 points per $1 at Esso and Mobil gas stations; and 10 points per $1 everywhere else
  • Income requirement: None
  • Additional benefits: Works with the PC Optimum program’s weekly offers; fraud detection with data encryption; proactive monitoring
  • Purchase interest rate: 20.97%
  • Get more details about the PC Financial Mastercard*

    Best cash-back credit card 

    American Express SimplyCash Preferred*

    If you’re looking for a straightforward cash-back card, look no further. The SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express offers an easy-to-understand system of 2% cash back on everything you buy—groceries, gas, pharmacy, travel, online splurges, and everything between.

    With a below-average annual fee of $99, this American Express card offers an edge over Visa or Mastercard cards in the similar rank, as it has no specific income requirements. (Competitor cards often require a minimum annual income requirement of $60,000 or $80,000.) There’s no earn or redemption chart to figure out, as you’re automatically redeemed 2% cash back annually (on your September statement). 

    Finally, there’s a generous 10% cash back for your first three months of card membership (up to $400), and it’s free to add additional authorized cardholders. If you shop at retailers that primarily accept American Express cards, this is a worthwhile choice. 

  • Annual fee: $99
  • Interest rate: 19.99%, 21.99% cash advances
  • Welcome bonus: Earn 10% cash back in your first four months (up to $400 cash back)
  • Earn rates: 2% on everything, redeemed as cash back annually on September statements
  • Income requirement: None
  • Additional benefits: American Express Front of the Line access; car rental theft and damage insurance; comprehensive travel insurance benefits 
  • Get more details about the American Express SimplyCash Preferred*

    Best secured credit card

    Plastk Secured Visa*


    Perks are rare for secured credit cards (which are usually more focused on the basics) but this card exceeds expectations by offering them up on everyday purchases. That said, the card will earn you 1 point per $1 spent, so you’ll need around 250 points to earn $1 cash back. While not the most competitive earn rate, the fact that you can earn any type of perk from your secured card is still a win. Another draw of the card is that there is no minimum income requirement to sign up. You will have to pay a security deposit of $300, and pay an annual fee of $48 (plus a $6 monthly fee). You will be able to easily track your payments and credit reports through Plastk Sentinel app. The cherry on top is that you will get a 0% interest rate for the first three months thanks to the card’s welcome offer. Note: This card is not currently available in Quebec. Annual fee: $48 (plus $6 monthly fee) Interest rate: 17.99% Welcome offer: 0% interest rate for the first 3 months and 5,000 rewards points (a $20 value) Earn rate: Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on everyday purchases Additional benefits: Zero fraud liability and 25-day interest-free grace period on purchases  Minimum deposit: $300

    Get more details about the Plastk Secured Visa*

    Best low-interest credit card 

    BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard*

    For those looking to minimize debt, this $20-a-year Preferred Rate Mastercard from Bank of Montreal is our pick for the best low-interest credit card. The annual fee is refunded in the first year, and a lower-than-average interest rate of 12.99% means you can minimize interest on balances and new purchases. Plus, get a 3.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for nine months (note that you’ll be charged a 1% fee on the amount you transfer to the new card). 

  • Annual fee: $20 (refunded in the first year)
  • Interest rate: 12.99% for purchases, 15.99% for cash advances
  • Welcome offer: 3.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for 9 months, with a 1% transfer fee
  • Additional benefits: Purchase protection and extended warranty 
  • Income required: None specified
  • Get more details about the BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard*

    Best credit card for approval with no credit check

    Refresh Secured Visa*

    If you’re looking for the best instant approval credit card and have bad credit, this secured Visa card from Refresh Financial could be for you. As the card is secured, you’ll need to provide a deposit, and the application process may take a few extra steps compared with unsecured card applications. A low annual fee and lower-than-average 17.99% interest rate help you responsibly manage your credit while you work on your credit score, ideally building you to where you can apply for a different card with more generous rewards.

  • Annual fee: $12.95, plus a monthly maintenance fee of $3
  • Interest rate: 17.99%
  • Additional benefits: Earn $100 cash each time you refer a friend or family member, with no limits on number of referrals
  • Income required: None specified

    Get more details about the Refresh Secured Visa*

    Guaranteed approval card

    Neo Financial Mastercard*

    The Neo Card an instant approval virtual credit card you can use right away—via Apple Pay—even before your physical card arrives in the mail. It’s also a great choice If you’re looking to support local businesses but also want to get deals at big box stores for little to no cost. The earnings you get with this card along with the low maintenance of signing up make it worthy of the title of the best card with no income requirement. Plus, if you have Apple Pay, you can use the digital version of your card instantly after approval. You can earn an average of 4% cash back at select businesses and 1% cash back on all other purchases. If your cash back rate falls below 1% Neo will top you up to up by matching the rate, too.

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Interest rate: Purchases 19.99% to 24.99%, cash advances 21.99% to 26.99%
  • Welcome offer: Earn 15% cash back on your first purchase at most Neo partners
  • Earn rate: Varies, but it averages 4% cash back on the free standard plan, with a minimum 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Additional benefits: Mastercard Zero Liability fraud protection; freeze your lost card
  • Get more details about the Neo Card*

    Also consider: 

    Capital One Guaranteed Approval Mastercard

    capital one guaranteed approval credit cardIf you’re in a rush to find out if you’ll be approved for a credit card, you could consider going with Capital One. The company has a Quick Check service, which lets you know if you qualify for a card in 15 seconds and, most importantly, doesn’t impact your credit score. In the case of this card, you’ll likely be approved as its designed to help you build credit. There are some criteria to meet, like you must be the age of majority in your province or territory. Depending your credit history, they may ask you to put down security funds between $70 and $300. It’s worth noting that even though this card is designed to help you build credit, it still comes with a few perks like rental car insurance.

  • Annual fee: $59
  • Interest rate: Purchases 19.80%, cash advances 21.90%, balance transfers 19.80% 
  • Welcome offer: None
  • Earn rate: n/a
  • Additional benefits: Common carrier travel accident insurance, car rental collision/loss damage waiver, baggage delay, travel assistance, price protection service, purchase assurance, extended warranty
  • Best online instant approval credit card

    Tangerine Money-Back Mastercard*

    Want to earn rewards right off the bat without a long approval process? Then the Tangerine Money-Back Mastercard may be the card for you, as you can apply in 10 minutes and start earning right away. Offering 2% cash back on two spending categories of your choice—including groceries, restaurants, gas, entertainment and recurring bill payments—you have options that will fit your needs. You also earn 0.5% cash back on all other purchases. 

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Interest rate: Purchases 19.95%, cash advances 19.95%, balance transfers 1.95% interest for the first 6 months (19.95% after that)
  • Welcome bonus: Earn 10% cash back (up to $100) when you spend $1,000 on everyday purchases within the first 2 months of having the card. Must apply before May 31, 2022.
  • Earn rate: 2% cash back on purchases in up to 2 spending categories and 0.5% cash back on everything else
  • Additional benefits: Purchase insurance covers loss, theft or damage for 90 days after purchase; extended warranty up to one year
  • Income requirement: $12,000
  • Get more details about the Tangerine Money-Back Mastercard*

    The difference between instant approval and guaranteed approval

    Applying online has made credit card approval and use more immediate. However, fast online credit card approval doesn’t mean approval is guaranteed. Cards with “instant approval” often have defined eligibility requirements. Instant approval means your application is adjudicated upon in minutes through the institution’s algorithmic technology and defined parameters. For example, Visa Infinite cards typically have a minimum income requirement of $60,000. Failing to meet that will result in a quick denial. Comparatively, “guaranteed approval” is a subset of credit card types also known as “secured” credit cards. These cards work well for those looking to build up a low credit score, whether because they don’t have a card or are repairing a bad credit history. 

    To obtain a secured credit card, you make a deposit to secure the limit on the card, which is why it’s called “secured.” This is done in case you default on payments. Unsecured cards, on the other hand, are approved on the merit of a wide combination of factors, including but not limited to credit score, a relationship with the financial institution and payment history. Guaranteed approvals are typically simple and are often associated with secured credit cards. And if you want to up your chances of credit card approval, your best bet is to work on your credit score.

    Tips for applying for an instant approval credit card

    If you’re applying for an instant-approval credit card, the below tips can increase your chances of success:

  • Know your credit score: Depending on the card you’re applying for, where your credit score sits will help determine if you get instantly approved. If you have a fair credit score (600 to 649), along with other factors like payment history and relationship with the issuer, consider retail and store credit cards. For scores 650 and up, look into applying for a reward-based card, like a cash-back credit card. If your score is 700 and higher, you have options for a more premium card, like a Visa Platinum/Infinite or Mastercard World/World Elite card. However, if your score is below 600, you should consider a secured card with a deposit requirement.
  • Strategize your card applications: Each time you apply for a card, the issuer may perform a hard credit pull, which can temporarily and negatively impact your score. These reviews determine your credit history and eligibility, but too many applications at once are flagged as “risky.” Space out your applications for a more favourable credit score and history.
  • Review the card’s minimum-income requirements before applying: Income requirements are often set by the credit card networks (think Visa and Mastercard). For example, Visa Infinite cards require a minimum annual income of $60,000, while the Visa Infinite Privilege requires a minimum of $150,000 for an individual or $200,000 for a household. Failure to meet the income requirements will result in an immediate denial.
  • Review present credit card debts: If you already owe money on one or more credit cards—either over 30% of your total credit limit or more than 40% of your income—banks will be less likely to approve your application. Address your debt first by paying back a significant portion. 
  • Report all of your income: This includes everything from your regular paycheque to side hustles and part-time jobs. Never lie about your income, but do use all of your income to your advantage. Additionally, if you’re part of a household (i.e. you live with a partner), some financial institutions will let you report a total household income instead of your own income alone.
  • Regularly review your credit file: It’s a good idea to pull your full credit report to see what’s factored into your score. These reports are a major factor in how an issuer reviews your eligibility, so if anything appears inaccurate, you may want to address it before applying for a new card.
  • More on credit cards:

    Canada’s best credit cards for gas

  • Canada’s best credit cards for grocery purchases
  • Best cash back credit cards
  • Tangerine credit card review: Is it really the best no-fee credit card in Canada?
  • The best instant approval credit cards in Canada 2022 - MoneySense