The best instant approval credit cards in Canada - MoneySense

The best instant approval credit cards in Canada

If waiting stresses you out, consider one of these credit card options. In some cases, you can be approved on the spot and even start purchasing with your card right away.

Best instant approval credit cards in Canada

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The approval process for a new credit card can be a daunting one, especially if you have to wait several days for confirmation before your personal card is printed and mailed to your home. Luckily, many credit cards now have instant approval, making the application process much quicker and less stressful. After filling out an application with details on your personal background, the card provider’s website runs its checks and lets you know if your application has been approved or rejected within minutes. 

If you’re approved with the information provided, your application is expedited for credit checks, card printing and mailing, and you can expect to receive a welcome package containing 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, more credit card applications are moving online, and more issuers are offering instant approval cards. 

Best instant approval credit cards in Canada:

What is an instant approval credit card?

Instant approval credit cards help save you time and stress through a streamlined—practically instant—application and approval process. 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 there needs to be a manual review. 

Canadian Tire’s Triangle Mastercards allow newly approved cardholders to 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 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 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 are applying for a secured or unsecured card

Instant approval applications require accurate information to match any previous background information they may already have on file (if you have another card from the same provider or bank with the institution already), social insurance number, employment and income information, and other optional information. The more information you provide, the more effectively the instant approval process can verify if you’re indeed who you are and assess your application on the spot. 

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 will 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 no fee rewards card

Tangerine Money-Back Card*

Tangerine Money-Back Credit CardThe Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card is one of the best no-fee rewards cards for its flexibility on points-earning categories, rewards payout frequency, and the fact there are no limits on how much you can earn. 

You’ll receive 2% money back on two categories of your choice (including groceries, gas, hotels or entertainment), and 0.5% on the remainder of everyday purchases. Plus, you can change your categories once per billing cycle in order to optimize your points earn. So if you’re planning renovations, switch to the home improvement category before you buy materials for your project.

The Tangerine Money-Back Card’s rewards are earned automatically and paid monthly to your statement balance, or you can opt to redeem them into a Tangerine Savings Account and make your rewards go even further. 

By redeeming rewards into a Tangerine Savings Account first, you unlock a third 2% money-back category. There is no limit on cash back, so you can maximize your rewards based on the areas you spend most. 

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Welcome bonus: $250 credit to your account when you spend at least $5,000 on everyday purchases in your first 3 months
  • Earn rate: 2% cash back in two categories; 0.5% on the remainder of everyday purchases
  • Our favourite features: Deposit cash back in a Tangerine Savings Account and get access to a third category; no limit on cash back; rewards are paid out monthly
  • Income required: $12,000

Get more details about the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card*

Best cash back credit card 

Scotiabank Momentum Visa Infinite Card*

Scotia Momentum Credit CardIf you’re looking for juicier cash back rewards (like the earn rates seen on travel rewards credit cards), the Scotiabank Momentum Visa Infinite is our pick. While this card has a premium $120 annual fee, the earn rate of 4% on groceries, recurring bills and subscription services will bring you ahead quickly. Additionally, you’ll earn 2% on gas, public transit and ridesharing services, and 1% on everything else. As a bonus, you’ll earn an outstanding 10% cash back for all purchases up to $2,000 in the first 3 months.

Alongside all of the benefits that come with a Visa Infinite class of credit card, like comprehensive travel insurance, car rental damage and collision coverage, and new device insurance, this is a top rewards credit card for those who don’t want to deal with redeeming points and miles for travel. 

  • Annual fee: $120
  • Earn rate: 4% back on groceries, recurring bills and subscription services; 2% back on gas, public transit and ridesharing; 1% on all other purchases
  • Welcome bonus: No annual fee in the first year; 10% cash back for all purchases up to $2,000 in the first 3 months
  • Additional perks: Comprehensive travel insurance; emergency medical and accident coverage; flight delay insurance; delayed baggage insurance; car rental collision and damage coverage; mobile device insurance; purchase security and extended warranty 
  • Income required: $60,000 or $100,000 as a household

Get more details about the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite*

Best travel credit card 

American Express Cobalt Card*

The American Express Cobalt follows in the footsteps of Netflix, Spotify and other subscription services by charging $10 monthly fee to use the card, as opposed to an annual fee of $120. 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, or 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 cannot 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 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: $120, billed at $10 per month
  • 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: Up to 30,000 Points in the first year, awarded at 2,500 points per month when you spend a monthly minimum of $500; plus 10,000 Welcome Bonus points when you spend $3,000 in your first three months
  • 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 Line by American Express
  • Income required: None specified

Get more details about the American Express Cobalt*

Best low interest credit card 

BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard*

BMO-Preferred-Rate-MastercardFor those who are 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% on purchases means you can minimize interest on balances and new purchases. Plus, get a 3.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for 9 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 and cash advances
  • Welcome offer: 3.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for 9 months with a 1% transfer fee
  • Additional perks: Purchase protection and extended warranty; discounts on Cirque du Soleil shows 
  • Income required: None specified

Get more details about the BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard*

Approval with no credit check card

Refresh Financial Secured Visa*

If your credit score is on the lower end and you’re looking to rebuild your creditworthiness, this secured Visa card from Refresh Financial may be for you. As the card is a secured product, you will 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 perks: 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 Financial Secured Visa*

Guaranteed approval card

Capital One Low Rate Guaranteed Mastercard

Capital One’s Low Rate Guaranteed Mastercard offers guaranteed approval for those who are looking to build or improve their credit. However if, based on your application result and credit score, you don’t meet the requirements of the Low Rate Guaranteed card, you’ll automatically be directed to the Guaranteed Secured Mastercard, which requires you to send in security funds as a deposit. Whichever option you end up with, both cards do report your credit history, so by using your card responsibly, you’ll ultimately raise your credit score.

  • Annual fee: $79
  • Interest rate: 14.9% on purchases and balance transfers
  • Additional perks: Price protection service; purchase assurance; extended warranty; common carrier travel accident insurance; car rental collision/loss damage waiver; baggage delay and travel assistance
  • Income required: None specified

Card you can use instantly after approval 

Canadian Tire Triangle Mastercard*

The Triangle Mastercard is a great option if you shop at Canadian Tire, CT Gas+, Sport Chek, Mark’s and a variety of other Canadian Tire family retailers. If you apply in a Canadian Tire store and are approved, you may use the card immediately rather than waiting for it to arrive 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 new Triangle Mastercard 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 app to make purchases before you receive your physical card in the mail.

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Interest rate: 19.99% 
  • Earn rate: 4% CT Money back at Canadian Tire, Sport Chek, Mark’s, L’Équipeur, Atmosphere, Sports Experts, Sports Rousseau, Hockey Expert, L’Entrepôt du Hockey and PartSource stores; 5 cents back (in CT Money) per litre on Canadian Tire Gas+ and Husky stations; 0.8% back in CT Money on everything else
  • Additional perks: Easy no-receipt returns at participating Canadian Tire family of stores; personalized bonus points-earning offers
  • Income required: None specified

Get more details about the Triangle Mastercard*