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Sometimes you can get instant access to your credit line, but not usually. While there are many cards that market themselves as instant approval, instant response, or instant decision cards, most of them are cards for people with bad credit. These cards tend to have high fees, high APRs, and low credit limits. And although they may give you a response within 60 seconds, you will usually not be able to begin using the card until you get a welcome packet in the mail with your actual credit card. This can take anywhere from 5 days to two weeks.

There are some cards that let you begin shopping right away.  Look for the words “instant approval” on the credit card application page to find card issuers that will approve your account in 60 seconds or less. Some of these are credit accounts, like Fingerhut, that can be used exclusively at their own online merchandise malls. If you want to begin making purchases right away, this type of card is your best bet.

Remember that many credit cards for good credit will approve your account right away if you have excellent credit, but you will almost always have to wait to get your account details or your physical card before you can begin using it. When you apply for a credit card it is best to do it at least a week or more in advance of the date you will actually need to use it.