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Spending Limits

Set a spending limit and Privacy will decline any transactions that go over the limit

Merchant-Locked Cards

Lock Privacy Cards to the first merchant they’re used at to prevent misuse if stolen

Single-Use Cards

Create Privacy Cards that close automatically after the first purchase is made on them

Pause/Close Cards

Pause or close your Privacy Cards at any time to block future transaction attempts

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Instant Approval Virtual Credit Card—What It Is and Where To Get One

Ashley Ferraro, Product
Oct 16, 2023
 Min Read

In 2022, the number of open credit card accounts in the U.S. alone reached 440 million, as Bankrate reports. This payment method has gained massive popularity due to its convenience, particularly its versatility and the financial flexibility it offers to cardholders.

What makes credit cards even more convenient is the fact that many issuers allow you to access funds quickly after the application. Some issuers offer instant approval if you meet their criteria and deliver the card to you physically or digitally shortly after. Those searching for instant approval virtual credit cards may find value in options like temporary digital card numbers, which allow you to use the card soon after approval.

This article will explore credit cards that entail instant approval and/or instant access, particularly:

  • What they are
  • How they work
  • What issuers offer the option

Note that the provided information is valid as of September 2023 and is subject to change. You should visit the issuers’ official websites for updates.

Source: Mohamed_hassan

What Is an Instant Approval Credit Card?

When you apply for a credit card, you typically need to wait for the issuer to:

  • Review your application
  • Check your credit score and history
  • Assess your eligibility

Depending on various factors, this process can take anywhere from a minute to 30 days, which is the legally mandated limit. 

Many issuers offer instant approval credit cards. The application processing and assessment with these issuers are automated and usually take place online, so you’ll likely get feedback within minutes of providing all the necessary information. Despite the misleading name of the feature, the response can be positive, negative, or a request for additional information. 

Some issuers will also allow you to access the funds instantly after approval—before the physical credit card arrives in the mail. They typically do so by sending you the actual number of your new card in an email or issuing stand-in temporary credit card numbers, which you can use for online transactions or add to a digital wallet.

Factors That Influence the Approval Time

Whether or not the credit card issuer can provide an instant decision in response to your application depends mainly on these factors:

Factor How It Influences Approval Time What You Can Do
Application method If you complete your application in paper form and send it via mail, it will take a few days for the issuer to receive it, review it, and mail the answer back. You can cut down on the approval time by applying for a credit card online or over the phone.
Sufficiency of the provided information Applications that contain errors or lack specific information will take longer to process. In such cases, instead of approving your application, the issuer usually responds by seeking clarification or additional details. Pay close attention to details when filling out the application. To ensure fast credit card approval, visit the issuer’s website or contact them directly to understand their specific requirements.
Credit card eligibility The higher your credit score and income, the better your chances of getting instant approval for a credit card. While getting pre-approval can’t guarantee an outcome, it can give you an idea of where you stand before applying. It’s important to apply for credit cards you’re compatible with, not only because of the approval time but also because multiple applications can negatively impact your credit score.

How Instant Approval Credit Cards Work

A photo of two people looking at a laptop screen, with one using the touchpad and the other pointing at the screen
Source: John Schnobrich

Once you’re approved for a credit card, the issuer will mail it to your address. This process takes around seven to ten days or less if you pay for expedited shipping. 

After receiving your new card, you can use it as you would any other credit card. You need to activate it first, though. Activation helps prevent unauthorized use and typically entails one of the following actions:

  • Calling a phone number provided by the issuer
  • Logging into your online account
  • Using the banking app to confirm you’ve received the card and verify your identity

If the credit card issuer allows instant use, you will likely receive the card details via email, the online banking platform, or the mobile app. You can use the card number for online payments or in-store by adding them to a digital wallet.

Issuers That Offer Instant Approval Credit Cards

The following issuers may be able to provide an instant response to your credit card application. Keep in mind that this is usually determined on a case-by-case basis. Users whose applications are incomplete or require further review may need to wait longer.

Capital One

Capital One® is a bank holding company offering a broad range of financial products and services, including personal and business credit cards, savings accounts, and auto loans. Those who apply for a credit card at Capital One may be able to get a response in less than a minute if they provide sufficient information[1].

Continental Finance Company

Continental Finance Company’s Reflex Mastercard® is a card suitable for those who need help building their credit score. The company reports to the three major credit bureaus and provides a free monthly credit score report when you enroll in e-statements[2]. Typically, the company provides an instant application decision unless it needs to gather additional data[2]

Wells Fargo

One of the largest financial services institutions in the U.S., Wells Fargo® offers everything from checking and savings accounts to various loans and investing services. After applying for a Wells Fargo credit card, the applicant may receive instant approval if the application is complete and their credit profile meets the criteria[3]. If not, they’ll receive an application ID and a number they can call to check the status of the application[3].

Other Instant Approval Credit Card Options To Consider

Note that some issuers offer the possibility of instant approval but don’t advertise it. Others may provide the option only for select cards or cardholders.

For instance, co-branded or store credit cards, such as the Chase Prime Visa[4] or Target’s RedCard™[5], often offer instant approval. Some may require the individual to apply in person, though.

A photo of a person pulling out a credit card from a wallet
Source: Liza Summer

Applications for secured cards may also receive a fast response. Secured credit cards are intended for individuals with limited or poor credit scores, and they require a cash deposit up-front, which serves as collateral. They’re less risky for the issuer than unsecured credit cards, so the application processing may take less time, especially if the issuer doesn’t do credit checks for the card.

One example of a secured card issuer that doesn’t require a credit check is OpenSky®[6]. It has an approval rate of 88% and provides applicants with a response in real time[6]

Some Mastercard secured credit cards also come with the possibility of instant or fast approval[7]:

  • PREMIER Bankcard® Mastercard® Credit Card 
  • Destiny Mastercard® - $700 Credit Limit
  • FIT® Platinum Mastercard®

Issuers That Offer Both Instant Approval and Instant Use

Some financial institutions will not only provide a response to your application instantly but also allow you to use your funds shortly after if you’re approved. 

American Express

One of the most well-known issuers today, American Express® provides various credit card options for consumers and businesses alike. It offers the possibility of both instant credit card approval and use[8]

If the applicant is approved for an AmEx card and deemed eligible, they can get an Instant Card Number, which allows them to use the new card digitally before it arrives in the mail[9]. The Instant Card Number is the same 15-digit number that’ll be printed on the physical card[9]

The feature is available for online or over-the-phone applications[9]. Users can access the Instant Card Number in the web or mobile app directly following the application approval page or in the welcome email that will be sent to them shortly after the approval[9].


Chase® offers a wide range of financial products and services, including investment and commercial banking, transaction processing, and asset management. Its credit card approval time depends, among other things, on the type of credit card chosen. 

With average Mastercard and Visa cards[10], as well as Amazon and Prime Visa cards[6], the applicant may get approved in minutes. The process usually takes longer for specialty credit cards like business and premium cards.

Chase also offers Spend Instantly, a feature that allows customers to load their newly approved card to Apple Pay®, Google Pay™, or Samsung Pay and use it before the physical card gets delivered[11].

Instant Approval Credit Card—Safety Precautions To Keep in Mind

No matter the credit card you end up choosing, you should do your best to safeguard it from potential threats. Credit card fraud is evolving thanks to the rapid technological advancements. Card-not-present fraud (CNP) alone is projected to make up over 74% of fraud by 2024, according to Insider Intelligence. If you’re not taking proper steps to secure your payments, you run the risk of having your financial data stolen and misused.

Consumer credit cards are protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA), limiting your liability to $50 in case of unauthorized transactions. However, as many issuers have a zero-liability policy, you likely won’t have to pay anything. Still, disputing fraudulent charges can be a long and tedious endeavor, requiring you to go back and forth with the issuer while your case undergoes investigation.

To avoid the hassle, you should focus on prevention first. This involves enacting all security measures available to you, such as setting unique and strong passwords for your online accounts, enabling multi-factor authentication, and using virtual cards.

Virtual cards mask your real card or bank information during online or over-the-phone transactions, shielding it in case of a data breach on the vendor’s servers. Although many banks offer virtual cards, you usually get more flexibility and control with independent virtual card providers like Privacy.

An illustration of two credit cards surrounded by money, a padlock, and a key
Source: Megan_Rexazin

Privacy Virtual Cards—Fortify Your Online Transactions

A Privacy Virtual Card is a stand-in card number with its own expiration date and security code. You can connect it to a debit card or bank account and use it at checkout as you would any standard payment card. If the merchant suffers a data breach, your real financial information stays protected, as the hackers can only access your virtual card numbers. 

Privacy focuses on security above all. Being a Better Business Bureau®-accredited and PCI-DSS compliant company, Privacy maintains rigorous business and security standards on par with any reliable bank. Its adherence to OWASP best practices and stringent policies, such as split-key encryption and aggressive key rotation, provide a secure environment for user data.

How Privacy Makes Your Transactions Safer and More Convenient 

Besides security, Privacy is also known for its ease of use. You can generate, customize, and manage your virtual cards effortlessly from your computer or mobile device.

Privacy Virtual Cards are an acceptable payment method at most merchants that accept U.S. debit or credit cards

Two Types of Virtual Cards

Privacy Virtual Cards can be Single-Use or Merchant-Locked:

Type of Card Single-Use Card Merchant-Locked Card
How It Works This type of card closes minutes after the first transaction. A Merchant-Locked Card “locks” to the first vendor you use it at.
How It Benefits You It ensures that the hacker can’t make use of the card details if they manage to steal them. If anyone gets hold of the card numbers, Privacy will decline all attempts to use them elsewhere.
What It's Ideal For This type of card is ideal to use at merchants whose reliability you’re unsure of and those you only plan to shop with one time. Merchant-Locked Cards are perfect for recurring payments and subscriptions, as well as merchants you frequently shop at.

Privacy Virtual Cards have adjustable spending limits. If a charge exceeds the designated limit, Privacy will block it. This feature helps with budget management and allows you to prevent sneaky merchants from overcharging you.

You can also pause and close your Privacy Cards at any time without affecting your actual bank account or debit card. This option can be beneficial when dealing with services that make it particularly difficult to cancel a subscription. Privacy will halt any charges that the merchant may attempt to impose while your cancellation request is being processed.

Browser Extension

You don’t have to reach for your wallet or memorize card numbers—you can check out quickly and seamlessly with the Privacy browser extension, which auto-fills virtual card details for you in the checkout fields. The current supported browsers are Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Edge, and you can use the Safari extension for iOS devices if you like shopping on mobile.

Source: cottonbro studio

Mobile App

Privacy’s mobile app, available for iOS and Android, enables you to generate and manage Privacy Cards on the go. You can monitor your account 24/7, as Privacy will send an in-app notification each time your card is being used or declined.

Password Management

Privacy offers a free integration with 1Password, one of the leading password managers. You can control all your login credentials and financial information from a convenient centralized platform.

Signing Up for Privacy Is Easy

To become a Privacy user, follow these four steps:

  1. Create an account
  2. Fill out the information necessary for verifying your identity
  3. Connect your bank account or debit card
  4. Request a Privacy Virtual Card

U.S. residents over 18 years old with a checking account at a U.S. bank or credit union are eligible to register for Privacy Cards. Privacy is compatible with most U.S. banks.

Privacy gives you three pricing options to choose from:

  1. Personal—This plan is free for domestic purchases and lets you generate up to 12 virtual cards a month. You can also set spending limits, pause/unpause and close the cards, and access the browser extensions and mobile app.
  2. Pro—The Pro plan comes with the same features as Personal but allows you to create up to 36 virtual cards a month. It also includes benefits such as priority support, no foreign transaction fees, the ability to mask transaction information on your bank statements, and 1% cashback on eligible purchases (totaling up to $4,500 a month).
  3. Premium—The Premium plan comes with all the above-listed features, as well as up to 60 virtual cards a month and dedicated account management.


[1] Capital One., sourced September 2023 
[2] Reflex Credit Card., sourced September 2023 
[3] Wells Fargo., sourced September 2023
[4] Amazon. Help & Customer Service—Prime Visa and Amazon Visa Approval Process., sourced September 2023
[5] Target., sourced September 2023
[6] OpenSky., sourced September 2023
[7] Mastercard., sourced September 2023
[8] Ben Luthi. Forbes. How To Check Your American Express Application Status.,a%20confirmation%20shortly%20after%20submission, sourced September 2023 
[9] American Express., sourced September 2023 
[10] Erica Sandberg. Forbes. How To Check Chase Credit Card Application Status., sourced September 2023
[11] Chase., sourced September 2023 

Privacy — Seamless & Secure Online Card Payments
Checkout securely online by creating unique virtual card numbers for every purchase. Avoid data breaches, unwanted charges, and stolen credit card numbers.
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Privacy — Seamless & Secure Online Card Payments
Checkout securely online by creating unique virtual card numbers for every purchase. Avoid data breaches, unwanted charges, and stolen credit card numbers.
Sign Up
Privacy virtual cards
Spending Limits

Set a spending limit, and Privacy will block all charges that go over the limit

Merchant-Locked Cards

Lock your Privacy card to one merchant you frequently shop from

Single-Use Cards

Secure your one-time payments to websites whose trust worthiness you're unsure of

Pause/Close Cards

By pausing or closing a card, Privacy will block all future transactions

Get a Privacy Card Now
Privacy — Seamless & Secure Online Card Payments
Checkout securely online by creating unique virtual card numbers for every purchase. Avoid data breaches, unwanted charges, and stolen credit card numbers.
Sign Up
Privacy — Seamless & Secure Online Card Payments
Sign Up