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Instant Approval Credit Cards | Bankrate.com

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If you have bad credit or a limited credit history and are having trouble qualifying for a credit card, instant approval credit cards may hold special appeal.

Instead of waiting days for an approval decision only to be turned down, you can pick the card you want, apply online and find out within seconds whether your application was approved or declined.

While many cards give you a chance to be approved instantly, the cards that list this feature front and center are typically geared toward people with a less-than-ideal credit score.

But like many so-called “guaranteed approval,” “no-credit-check” or “soft pull” credit cards, cards marketed as offering approval in seconds may not be your best option long-term.

That said, a few cards offer both instant approval and hold their own as credit-building or rewards cards. Read on to learn more about how instant approval works, which cards offer it and how it differs from prequalification or an instant use card number, as well as some of the best instant approval credit card offers.

What is an instant approval credit card and which cards are available?

Instant approval allows you to find out whether your application for a new credit card has been approved or denied within seconds (or, at most, a few minutes).

Most major card issuers give you a chance to be instantly approved for some of their credit cards. The cards that make instant approval the norm for applicants, however, are typically credit-building cards, which are designed for people with a damaged or limited credit history.

These instant approval credit card offers feature a low entry barrier, making approval more likely for most cardholders. So it’s safe to conclude that instant approval credit cards don’t always require good credit.

To start, you’ll fill out an online application form with basic information including your name, address, annual income and Social Security number.

The card issuer will then run a preliminary credit check and, if you meet the basic requirements, approve your application on the spot. This is typically only a conditional approval, however—the issuer may examine your credit history more thoroughly before making a final approval decision.

While instant approval can save you some time and take some of the guesswork out of the application process, standard approval decisions generally don’t take too long (usually a few days or a couple of weeks at most). Indeed, according to federal guidelines, an issuer is required to let you know whether your application has been approved or denied within 30 days.

What credit score do you need to get instant approval?

No specific credit score threshold guarantees instant approval. As is true with all credit card applications, your odds of instant approval will vary considerably depending on the card you’re applying for and your credit profile; the higher your credit score, the more likely you are to be approved instantly.

For example, if you have a good—but not excellent—credit score, it’s unlikely that you’ll be instantly approved for a luxury travel credit card. But you may still be approved in the end.

If, on the other hand, you applied for a card that required only an average credit score, you’d have a much better chance of getting an instant approval. ​​If you have a low or bad credit score, instant approval cards offers may be limited to cards like secured credit cards.

Instant approval vs. prequalified offers

While there is some overlap between instant approval and prequalified offers, it’s important to distinguish between the two.

With instant approval, your application is approved and you’re able to open a new credit card account in seconds, whereas with prequalification, an issuer performs a soft pull of your credit report and lets you know whether or not you meet the basic requirements for getting the card.

Getting prequalified gives you a good sense of your odds of approval but it doesn’t guarantee approval. You’ll still have to put in a formal application and face a hard pull of your credit report.

You can typically prequalify for a new card via an issuer’s website or a tool like CardMatch in less than 60 seconds, but even if you’re instantly prequalified and apply straight away, an actual approval decision may take longer.

Instant approval vs. instant use

Similarly, you may be instantly approved for a new credit card, but that doesn’t mean you can use it right away.

While some cards offer both instant approval and a card number you can use immediately, the inclusion of one feature does not guarantee the other.

This means that even if you complete a card application and see that you’re approved a few seconds later, you may still have to wait a couple of weeks for your physical card to arrive in the mail.

If you’re looking for a card that gives you access to your account information as soon as you’re approved, search for an “instant use” credit card instead of an instant approval credit card.

Approval decision times vary on instant use cards, but once you’re approved, you’ll be able to see your credit card number online or via an issuer’s mobile app and can start using it to make purchases immediately.

A number of major issuers—including American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Goldman Sachs, Sutton Bank and Synchrony Bank—offer instant use on some of their cards.

Best instant approval credit cards

While instant approval is possible on a number of popular credit cards, including some of the top rewards cards on the market, the majority of cards that market themselves as “instant approval cards” are designed for cardholders with a damaged or limited credit history. These typically include secured credit cards and some store credit cards.

Because of their target market, many instant approval cards are hard to recommend due to their numerous fees, high APRs or bare-bones (or nonexistent) rewards programs.

Still, a handful of cards marketed as offering instant approval may be useful if you want to get a quick approval decision and start building credit or earning rewards.

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card Bad credit $200-$3,000 (based on security deposit) $35 Credit-builders who want to avoid a credit check
Self Visa Credit Card No credit history Varies based on how much you’ve saved in your Self Credit Builder Account (minimum $100) None (Self account carries a one-time nonrefundable administrative fee of $9) Credit-builders who want to build their security deposit gradually, instead of coming up with hundreds of dollars upfront
Amazon Prime Store Card Fair credit Varies None Users who want to earn rewards on online shopping (the card offers Amazon Prime members 5% back in rewards on Amazon.com purchases)
UNITY Visa® Secured Credit Card Bad credit $250-$10,000 (based on security deposit) $39 Credit-builders who want a high credit limit to keep their credit utilization in check
Discover it® Secured Credit Card No credit history Up to $2,500 $0 Credit-builders who want rewards with no annual fee
Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi Excellent Varies Requires $60 annual Costco membership Frequent Costco shoppers
Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit Bad to fair Varies $75 first year, then $99 annually Credit-builders who want rewards

The bottom line

Instant approval is a nice perk and may ease the frustration of applying for cards and waiting for days only to have your application denied.

Nevertheless, a quick approval decision shouldn’t be your top priority when you’re looking for the best credit card for you. Instead of focusing on how long an approval decision takes, work on finding and applying for the cards that best fit your goals and credit profile.

*The information about the OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card, Self Visa Credit Card, Amazon Prime Store Card,UNITY Visa Secured Credit Card and Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

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Are Sallie Mae Student Loans Federal or Private?

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When you hear the name Sallie Mae, you probably think of student loans. There’s a good reason for that; Sallie Mae has a long history, during which time it has provided both federal and private student loans.

However, as of 2014, all of Sallie Mae’s student loans are private, and its federal loans have been sold to another servicer. Here’s what to know if you have a Sallie Mae loan or are considering taking one out.

What is Sallie Mae?

Sallie Mae is a company that currently offers private student loans. But it has taken a few forms over the years.

In 1972, Congress first created the Student Loan Marketing Association (SLMA) as a private, for-profit corporation. Congress gave SLMA, commonly called “Sallie Mae,” the status of a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) to support the company in its mission to provide stability and liquidity to the student loan market as a warehouse for student loans.

However, in 2004, the structure and purpose of the company began to change. SLMA dissolved in late December of that year, and the SLM Corporation, or “Sallie Mae,” was formed in its place as a fully private-sector company without GSE status.

In 2014, the company underwent another big adjustment when Sallie Mae split to form Navient and Sallie Mae. Navient is a federal student loan servicer that manages existing student loan accounts. Meanwhile, Sallie Mae continues to offer private student loans and other financial products to consumers. If you took out a student loan with Sallie Mae prior to 2014, there’s a chance that it was a federal student loan under the now-defunct Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP).

At present, Sallie Mae owns 1.4 percent of student loans in the United States. In addition to private student loans, the bank also offers credit cards, personal loans and savings accounts to its customers, many of whom are college students.

What is the difference between private and federal student loans?

When you’re seeking financing to pay for college, you’ll have a big choice to make: federal versus private student loans. Both types of loans offer some benefits and drawbacks.

Federal student loans are educational loans that come from the U.S. government. Under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, there are four types of federal student loans available to qualified borrowers.

With federal student loans, you typically do not need a co-signer or even a credit check. The loans also come with numerous benefits, such as the ability to adjust your repayment plan based on your income. You may also be able to pause payments with a forbearance or deferment and perhaps even qualify for some level of student loan forgiveness.

On the negative side, most federal student loans feature borrowing limits, so you might need to find supplemental funding or scholarships if your educational costs exceed federal loan maximums.

Private student loans are educational loans you can access from private lenders, such as banks, credit unions and online lenders. On the plus side, private student loans often feature higher loan amounts than you can access through federal funding. And if you or your co-signer has excellent credit, you may be able to secure a competitive interest rate as well.

As for drawbacks, private student loans don’t offer the valuable benefits that federal student borrowers can enjoy. You may also face higher interest rates or have a harder time qualifying for financing if you have bad credit.

Are Sallie Mae loans better than federal student loans?

In general, federal loans are the best first choice for student borrowers. Federal student loans offer numerous benefits that private loans do not. You’ll generally want to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and review federal funding options before applying for any type of private student loan — Sallie Mae loans included.

However, private student loans, like those offered by Sallie Mae, do have their place. In some cases, federal student aid, grants, scholarships, work-study programs and savings might not be enough to cover educational expenses. In these situations, private student loans may provide you with another way to pay for college.

If you do need to take out private student loans, Sallie Mae is a lender worth considering. It offers loans for a variety of needs, including undergrad, MBA school, medical school, dental school and law school. Its loans also feature 100 percent coverage, so you can find funding for all of your certified school expenses.

With that said, it’s always best to compare a few lenders before committing. All lenders evaluate income and credit score differently, so it’s possible that another lender could give you lower interest rates or more favorable terms.

The bottom line

Sallie Mae may be a good choice if you’re in the market for private student loans and other financial products. Just be sure to do your research upfront, as you should before you take out any form of financing. Comparing multiple offers always gives you the best chance of saving money.

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Tips to do some fall cleaning on your finances

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Wealth manager, Harry Abrahamsen, has five simple ways to stay on top of the big financial picture.

PORTLAND, Maine — Keeping track of our financial stability is something we can all do, whether we have IRAs or 401ks or just a checking account. Harry J. Abrahamsen is the Founder of Abrahamsen Financial Group. He works with clients to create and grow their own wealth. Abrahamsen shares five financial tips, starting with knowing what you have. 

1. Analyze Your Finances Quarterly or Biannually

You want to make sure that your long-term strategy is congruent with your short-term strategy. If the short-term is not working out, you may need to adjust what you are doing to make sure your outcome produces the desired results you are looking to accomplish. It is just like setting sail on a voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. You know where you want to go and plot your course, but there are many factors that need to be considered to actually get you across and across safely. Your finances behave the exact same way. Check your current situation and make sure you are taking into consideration all of the various wealth-eroding factors that can take you completely off course.

With interest rates very low, now might be a good time to consider refinancing student loans or mortgages, or consolidating credit card debt. However, do so only if you need to or if you can create a positive cash flow. To ensure that you are saving the most by doing so, you must look at current payments, excluding taxes and insurance costs. This way you can do an apples-to-apples comparison.

The most important things to look for when reviewing your credit report is accuracy. Make sure the reporting agencies are reporting things actuary. If it doesn’t appear to be reporting correct and accurate information, you should consult with a reputable credit repair company to help you fix the incorrect information.

4. Savings and Retirement Accounts

The most important thing to consider when reviewing your savings and retirement accounts is to make sure the strategies match your short-term and long-term investment objectives. All too often people end up making decisions one at a time, at different times in their lives, with different people, under different circumstances. Having a sound strategy in place will allow you to view your finances with a macro-economic lens vs a micro-economic view. Stay the course and adjust accordingly from a risk and tax standpoint.

RELATED: Financial lessons learned through the pandemic

A great tip for lowering utility bills or car insurance premiums: Simply ask! There may be things you are not aware of that could save you hundreds of dollars every month. You just need to call all of the companies that you do business with to find out about cost-cutting strategies. 

RELATED: Overcome your fear of finances

To learn more about Abrahamsen Financial, click here

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How to Get a Loan Even with Bad Credit

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Sana pwedeng mabura ang bad credit history as quickly and easily as paying off your utility bills, ‘no? Unfortunately, it takes time. And bago mo pa maayos ang bad credit mo, more often than not, kailangan mo na namang mag-avail ng panibagong loan. 

Good thing you can still get a loan even with bad credit, kahit na medyo limited ang options. How do you get a loan if you have bad credit? Alamin sa short guide na ito. 

For more finance tips, visit Moneymax.

 

 

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