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The faster you’re approved for a credit card, the faster you can start financing purchases to grow your business. Pre-approval from your credit card provider can be a helpful tool to tell you which card you’re likely to qualify for, but it doesn’t guarantee you’ll be approved. Instead of waiting for pre-approval, you can also apply for cards that are known for their speedy approval times. 

In this article, we'll go over what pre-approval means, how pre-approval differs from instant approval, and which business credit cards to consider for fast approval.

‍What is a pre-approved credit card?

When a credit card provider says that you’re pre-approved, it means that you’ve met the initial requirements to become a cardholder. However, this doesn’t mean that you can go ahead and sign up immediately.

When considering your pre-approval, credit card companies use information about you and your company that’s available to the public. They may also do a soft credit pull, which doesn't affect your credit score. However, the hard credit inquiry and underwriting process doesn't start until you complete the application process. At this point, a lender will take an in-depth look at your financials and actually decide if they're willing to offer you a credit card.

So even though you've received pre-approval, you may be declined for a credit card. However, being pre-approved typically does mean your chances of approval are higher.  

Is there pre-approval for business credit cards?

Yes, some credit card providers will offer you pre-approval for a business credit card. This might happen if your bank notices that you’ve been spending a lot on a monthly basis.

Pre-approval doesn’t mean you will actually qualify for the card, though. Your application will typically ask for your business name, revenue, and EIN number. If you can’t provide any of this information or your revenue or credit score isn’t high enough, you might not be approved.

Credit card pre-approval, guaranteed, and instant approval

There are three different approval processes: pre-approval, guaranteed, and instant approval. Here’s what these terms mean and how they differ:

Pre-approval: Pre-approval credit cards use public data and soft credit pulls to tell you if you’re pre-approved. While pre-qualifying isn't a guaranteed approval, it indicates a higher likelihood of approval upon completing the full credit card application.

Guaranteed: Guaranteed credit cards are designed for consumers with limited credit history, fair credit, or bad credit who experience challenges with approval. These are typically secured business credit card options and require a security deposit that becomes your credit limit. They’re also notorious for having much higher interest rates and unreasonable fee structures, but they’re also a way to build your company's credit score if you're a newer business or have experienced financial hardships in the past.

Instant approval: As you'd imagine, instant approval indicates that you’re likely to receive a credit decision instantly. In most cases, you’ll know if you got these cards within a minute or two, although there’s no guarantee of approval. That is unless you apply for a guaranteed instant-approval credit card. Nonetheless, many prime offers have instant approval capabilities but are difficult to qualify for, especially if you've had problems getting approved for credit cards in the past.

What credit score is needed for pre-approval?

The credit score requirements for a business can vary depending on the lender and the type of credit being sought. Generally, a good personal credit score is around 700 or above. However, some lenders may be willing to work with lower credit scores.

5 best business credit cards with pre-approval or instant approval

Drawbacks to traditional credit card companies that offer instant approval

Despite the benefits of being approved quickly, instant approval credit cards aren’t always the right choice for your business. While they may be easier to qualify for, they’re typically coupled with high-interest rates, high fees, and lower credit limits compared to other cards. Here’s some drawbacks associated with instant approval credit cards:

High interest rates

If the balance on your credit card carries over from month to month, your lender will charge you interest. In this case, interest immediately becomes the biggest fee associated with your credit card debt, as your interest rate is likely going to be high.

The best interest rates are typically reserved for credit cards that are the most difficult to get. Lenders accept less risk when they lend money to those with the best credit scores, credit utilization rates, incomes, and financial stability—that’s why credit cards have an approval process to begin with.

On the other hand, when a lender makes a credit card easy to get, they accept a higher risk of loss. As a result, they increase interest rates to ensure they’re compensated for this additional risk.

High fees

Since easy-approval credit cards present a higher risk to lenders, those offering them typically charge higher fees. Before you apply for one of these cards, you should look at the fee structure:

  • Annual fees: The majority of easy-approval credit cards come with annual fees.
  • Cash advance fees: Most credit card companies charge cash-advance fees. However, the fees are typically higher with instant-approval credit cards. Also, cash advances are usually billed at a higher interest rate than what your credit card already has. Cash-advance interest rates are also usually nearly double what would be considered usury rates in other circumstances.
  • Other fees: Credit cards usually come with extra added fees. These fees can vary from credit card to credit card, but some common ones include foreign transaction fees, balance-transfer fees, late-payment fees, and returned-check fees. Be sure you understand and agree to the fees you’ll be charged before you apply.

Damage to credit

If you have to use your personal credit score to apply for an instant approval credit card, you might end up damaging your credit in the long run. If your business becomes insolvent and can’t cover its obligations, you’ll personally be on the hook for any debt that’s owed, so it’s usually better to keep your personal finances separate.

Banks and lenders are going to make sure that you pay back your debts, so always be careful when it comes to risking your personal financial stability in order to access capital for your company.

Limited credit limits

If you’re looking for a credit card for your business, you’re likely looking for a good rewards program and a high credit limit to allow you to fund business purchases. Be aware that some instant approval cards can come with lower credit limits.

Credit utilization is one of the main factors determining your credit score, so a lower credit limit could mean you’re forced to use over 30% of your available credit, potentially impacting your score. For that reason it’s best to avoid instant approval credit cards with low credit limits.

Can you get a business credit card when you first start your business?

You can qualify for business credit cards when you first start your business by offering a personal guarantee. You can look for cards that use your personal credit history instead of an EIN number if you don’t have one yet. That said, it’s recommended to get an EIN number as soon as you start your business. You can start building your business credit score when you apply for credit cards with your EIN number instead of just your personal SIN.

Ramp: a corporate card with hassle-free application

If you’re looking for business credit, consider Ramp and our hassle-free application process. Ramp offers sales-based underwriting, which means we put more emphasis on your company’s revenue than other factors, like credit history, which can help you access a higher credit limit than other cards.

Ramp is an all-in-one finance automation platform that makes it easier to manage your business’s accounting, bill payments, and expense processes. Here’s an overview of our card features:

  • Unlimited cardholders: Get free access to all the employee cards you need.
  • Spend controls: You give each employee their own spending limit. You can also decide what types of purchases they’re able to make and with what vendors.
  • Automatic receipt matching: Ramp automatically tracks receipts and categorizes purchases, saving companies hours of accounting time each week.
  • Cashback: Ramp offers 1.5% unlimited cashback on all purchases when you or your employees swipe the card.
  • Real-time insights. Ramp's platform gives you the insights you need to save more money and make more strategic bets on your business.

Looking for a card that gives you all the finance tools you need to take your business to the next level? Find out how Ramp can help your business today.

Try Ramp for free
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Finance Writer, Ramp
Richard Moy has written extensively about procurement and vendor management topics for companies like BetterCloud, Stack Overflow, and Ramp. His writing has also appeared in The Muse, Business Insider, Fast Company, Mashable, Lifehacker, and more.
Ramp is dedicated to helping businesses of all sizes make informed decisions. We adhere to strict editorial guidelines to ensure that our content meets and maintains our high standards.


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