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How long does it take to get a credit card?

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    How long do credit cards take to arrive? In this age of online applications and near instant approvals, the question doesn't arise often. The average Visa® or Mastercard® may be approved in minutes and shipped within days, provided you meet the credit criteria. However, credit cards with strict approval criteria may take longer to be approved and delivered.

    Some cards are designed with very specific characteristics and approval criteria, so the review process could take longer to ensure that the applicant qualifies. The process could involve a manual review of the application. In some cases, additional information could be requested before an application is finally approved.

    How long does it take to get approved for a credit card?

    Credit card issuers are required by law to respond within 30 days, but online applications may be approved in a few minutes. If you're applying over the phone or in person, and you've submitted all the correct information, you may also get a decision within minutes. Mail-in applications are the slowest option, taking several weeks sometimes.

    The key to a fast approval is to make sure your credit history is in good shape before applying. Quick credit card approvals typically take place when your application is complete and your credit score is sufficient to qualify. You can always research a card first and make sure you fit the criteria for approval.

    An online application may be a faster way to get approved than a mail-in form. Either way, make sure all fields are filled out properly. Missing information could slow down the process and may require a manual review. Accurate information tends to speed up the approval process.

    How long does it take to receive a new credit card?

    Most credit card issuers will send a new card in 10 to 14 days. The time it'll take to receive your new card may depend on the type of card you applied for, as well as factors like potential delays with the mail. If you request a special design, which some companies offer, your card could take longer. You may also have an option for expedited delivery, which might take only 1 or 2 days.

    How long does it take to receive a replacement credit card?

    A replacement card—which you'd get if your original has been lost or stolen—typically arrives within 7 days. Most credit card issuers offer expedited shipping for replacement cards—just ask.

    What to do after you get your credit card

    The first thing you'll likely have to do after receiving your physical credit card is activate it. This is often as simple as calling the number on the credit card, but it will come with instructions. Once your credit card is active, you're ready to make purchases.

    At this point, consider downloading your card issuer's mobile app if you haven't already. There you'll probably find ways to manage your credit card easily, such as by setting up automatic payments and redeeming rewards.

    What do I do if I haven't received a card yet?

    If you've applied for a new credit card, been approved and have not received it after 14 business days, there are steps you can take. In general, the first step is to contact the credit card issuer for information—by phone and online may be quick and convenient options. Alternatively, you can typically speak with a specialist at a local branch.

    How to get a credit card faster

    You might have options to get a credit card faster than the typical time frame. This is true whether your account is newly approved or you're awaiting a replacement card.

    Rush shipping

    Physical cards have to be delivered in the mail or from a parcel service. However, most card issuers offer expedited shipping at some point when you apply or soon after you're approved. Look carefully or contact your card issuer to ask about their expedited shipping options.

    Normal shipping can take around 2 weeks, while rush shipping might only take 1 to 2 business days. The costs can vary by issuer, but sometimes it's available at no extra charge.

    Use a digital version of your card

    Card issuers may provide a credit card's details to the primary cardmember as soon as their account is approved. With enough information, you may be able to add your card to a digital wallet and make certain purchases online, even without the physical card. This card information isn't always available when an account is first opened, but ask your issuer to be sure.

    Can a credit card be used right away?

    Usually, you'll have to activate a new card online or by phone. It's a simple process, and you'll find the instructions—often printed on a sticker—with your new card. After that, you can use your card online or in stores at your leisure.

    What happens if the application is denied?

    If a credit card application is denied, you'll usually be notified the same way you applied. For example, if you applied online, you will be notified by email.

    Regardless of how you receive it, a denial notice may include instructions you can follow to request that the credit card issuer reconsider your application. That process usually requires submitting new or updated information, but see your specific notice or contact the card issuer for details.

    Another option you have after receiving a decision is to apply for a different credit card. There may be credit cards with lower credit limits or approval criteria that increase your chances of getting a credit card.

    In conclusion

    Credit card applications for well-qualified applicants are processed relatively fast. Physical cards, however, can take about 2 weeks to arrive in the mail. You might be able to activate and use your card faster by selecting a rush delivery option. In any event, you can start using your credit card and earning rewards as soon as it's activated, usually by phone or from your mobile banking app.

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