Is 60 Second Credit Card Approval a Big Fat Lie?

Q: Why do some credit card websites say you can get approved in 60 seconds, but others (like CreditCardForum) do not say that? Will I get a decision faster depending on which website I use to apply?

A: It’s funny you bring up this topic, as I’m always shocked when I see these types of claims…

60 second approval claim

With the above example, I suppose *technically* they are telling the truth, because it is possible to get a decision on your application within 60 seconds or less with many card issuers.

But here’s where the matter becomes grey – just because something is possible, it doesn’t mean it will always happen that way.

How approval decisions are made

First the card issuer has to verify your identity. If the system can’t confirm in real-time, the decision process will be delayed.

Second, the card issuer has to pull your credit and check whether you meet the minimum requirements. Errors in credit reporting can cause delays, too.

Third, the bank has to send you the card before you can use it. This can take 7-10 days (although it’s usually quicker). Regardless, you’re not going to be able to use the account after 60 seconds. The only exception I can think of are some store-branded cards which are applied for in-person at the store. Some of those allow you to charge the account immediately.

Any kink along this chain of events will slow down the process. So while it is definitely possible to apply for a credit card in 60 seconds, it would be impossible to guarantee a decision within that same amount of time. Ads that promise 60 seconds are misleading.

Where can you get the quickest approval?

When it comes to speed, it doesn’t matter what website you apply thru. Why? Because all advertisers (including CreditCardForum) are required to re-direct you to an application on the card issuer’s official website.

Even though you may click the link on a third-party website, you still end up filling out the actual application on the bank’s website and it is being processed on their server.

So at the end of the day, the speed will be the exact same regardless of which site you originally clicked on for the application.

That being said, you won’t find the same offers on every websites. Some card issuers only allow certain websites to feature certain offers. CreditCardForum has deep relationships with all the major issuers and only features the best of the best. Go here to see the top credit cards by category.

Most issuers try to approve you at time of application

With the exception of prepaid Visa/MasterCards (which are not even credit cards) you almost never see banks promising a 60 second decision. Most will make a best effort attempt to show you the decision online within a minute or two after submitting your application. But for the reasons mentioned above, getting an “approved” or “denied” answer immediately, 100% of the time, is not possible.

Some third-party websites will make the 60 second claim, but guess what? With many banks it’s against the rules for them to do that.

Here’s an example of an email that was sent out to American Express’ advertisers a while back:

email about AmEx instant decisions

Major card issuers like American Express, Chase, Citi, Bank of America, Discover and others don’t allow their cards to be promoted as “instant” approval, because that would be an inaccurate description. However, some of the less scrupulous websites out there will make that claim, even when they shouldn’t be.

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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