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Instant approval credit cards could be slightly misleading as far as the name is concerned. Although it says instant approval, it doesn't mean that the card would be approved immediately and you can start shopping the same day. In fact, if a credit card company allows that you have every reason to be worried because you never know what are the rules and regulations behind the screen. However, instant approval credit cards only mean that one can get a credit card faster than the traditional credit card. Secondly, there would be a quick response from the credit card company.
If you look at the standard procedure, it takes couple of days for your application to reach a credit card company, before it can start any checks. However, in instant approval credit card, as soon you submit online, all the information required, your credit report will be checked by the company. So you straightaway save some time there. Since your credit report is checked immediately, you will soon get a response. This response though is not necessarily about whether you will get the credit card or not. However, the short time it takes to let you that your application has been processed and the credit report received makes them much faster than normal credit cards.
After checking your credit report, the decision is taken by the company whether or not to give you a credit card. If yes, your background will be checked and the process should be completed in 4 - 7 days which is again faster than the normal credit card. There are many companies which are providing incentives to attract customers. Even in this case, you might get an instant approval credit card even with a bad credit history. However, your interest rate will be high.
A benefit of the instant approval credit card is that, if you are over limit over your normal card and want to make a purchase online, you can use the instant card. The normal card could be used as well, but the heft interest which you will have to pay for exceeding the limit should deter you from doing so. One of the disadvantages of the instant approval credit card is that it has a low credit limit. This is understandable given the less stringent checks of credit history and the quicker processing. However, you can use it to make your credit history better too.