Whenever I apply for a credit card online, I always get a message along the lines of "we could not instantly approve your application". I end up getting approved eventually so this is just an annoyance but I am wondering why this is. My credit score is around 800, I have a good income, and zero debt. The only thing I can think of is I rent and it is kinda high since I am in the Bay Area. What are the factors that contribute to instant credit card approval?

  • Do you have any monitoring services attached to your credit reports?
    – MrChrister
    Apr 7, 2013 at 16:53
  • Nope, no credit report monitoring.
    – Craig W
    Apr 7, 2013 at 17:00
  • Same here, never auto approved. I've figured it was the $0 I always list for the house payment. Apr 7, 2013 at 18:04

3 Answers 3


The reason is very likely that it is not possible for ANYONE to be approved instantly .

The hardest part of any sales call is finding a quality leads. The fastest way to get a quality lead is to offer "Quick, Easy, Instant approval." The idea is they lure you in with an offer of credit with no hassle and only a limited amount of information. The information you provide is already the PII that you most want to protect, so getting you to provide the rest of the information is easy(In for a penny...) This is a minor variant of the Bait and Switch the difference is that the product being offered is the same. In a bait and switch they dangle a product at a great deal, then say we are sold out but here try this instead. Instead of switching the product, they are switching the approval process.

While you are going through the collection process it provides them opportunities to offer you other services, should you not bite they still get you to sign up for their service and because you have invested more time in it you are more likely to use it.

  • 1
    I disagree. My wife has done an online submission for a card and been approved within seconds, no human intervention. They got what they wanted, there was nothing to upsell. (On the other hand, there was an upsell attempt at activation.) Apr 10, 2013 at 3:44
  • @LorenPechtel - I am not saying that no sites have instant approval. But there are far more sites out there that use the fact that there are a few good guys out there to lend legitimacy to the "not so good" guys.
    – user4127
    Apr 10, 2013 at 13:10

I get the same thing every time. I just applied for and received a new card with a high balance, but I was not able to get it online. I'm wondering if you need a very specific set of factors or if they just offer that as a way to get you signed up even though they mostly can't deliver on the instant promise.


The question is for all intents and purposes unanswerable. The reasons that one person is delayed and another is not is due to proprietary formulas used by the bank in question. Chances are the algorithm is looking for potentially fraudulent applications as well as border line applications and flagging them for review by a human.

In theory, given enough information about the individuals with delayed responses and those without, it might be theoretically possible to back track what their reasons are. But it would be specific to an individual bank. Each bank is going to have their own formula, based on their individual experience.

  • "Each bank is going to have their own formula, based on their individual experience." ...and they are likely going to refine it over time, in response to a variety of events, so even if you figure out how it works now, that information is likely to be out of date in a few years anyway.
    – user
    Jul 20, 2019 at 13:15

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .