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How Long Does It Take To Get a Credit Card?

Janine DeVault

May 25, 2022 6 min read

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Thanks to online credit card applications, you can now apply and be approved for a credit card in a matter of minutes. However, it may take up to ten days to receive the physical card. However, if you're eager to expedite the process, there are a few ways you might be able to do so.

Many credit card companies will provide your account details upon approval, enabling you to link your card to your virtual wallet and begin spending immediately. Using pre-approved credit applications or applying online can help expedite the credit approval process. 

Keep reading for more information on the credit application process and how you can potentially speed up each step. 

The Process of Credit Approval

Receive Approval

How to Get Approved for a Credit Card and How Long Does it Take?

To apply for a credit card, you must fill out an application. You can usually do this online, but sometimes you might have to apply in-person through an advisor at your bank or with a paper application that you submit by mail. 

A credit card application will ask you for several pieces of personal information, including your birth date, social insurance number, address, and annual income. Filling out the application accurately will expedite the credit approval process. If you're self-employed, have income that fluctuates month to month, or haven't filed a tax return recently, it could take longer for the credit card company to verify your information. If you're applying for a more exclusive credit card with strict approval requirements, the approval process could be longer than usual.  

When you apply online, your credit application will often be approved or rejected within a matter of minutes. Your application will usually be instantly approved if you've gone through a pre-approval process. However, each company is different, and sometimes it can take several days before you hear back. If you apply through your bank or by mail, it may take up to 14 days to find out whether you were approved. 

How Long Does it Take to Receive Your Card?

Free Expedited Shipping

Once your credit card application has been approved, the company will issue your credit card and ship it to your home. It usually takes between 5-7 business days to receive the physical version of your card, and the wait may be longer due to shipping delays or holidays. 

Fortunately, many credit card companies will share your account details with you as soon as you're approved, so you can begin using your new credit account right away. 

If you need your credit card urgently, there may be an option to request expedited service for a fee.

How to Get a Credit Card Faster?

There's no way to know precisely how long it will take to get a credit application approved and the card in your hands. However, there are a few ways you might be able to speed up the process:

Mailing Address

Apply for credit cards that you can easily qualify for. 

If you're well within the income threshold and credit score range that a credit card requires, it will usually speed up the approval process. However, if you only meet some (but not all) of the card's requirements, it will take longer for the credit card company to review your application and make a decision. 

Fill out your application online.

Mailing in a paper application will undoubtedly add several days to the approval process. You can definitely speed things up by applying online. 

Apply through your bank. 

When you apply through your bank, they already have access to your personal information, including income and employment status, which may help expedite the process. 

Another way to ensure fast approval is to apply for a pre-approved credit card. 

Get a Pre-Approved Credit Card

Final Approval

Pre-approved credit cards, also known as instant approval cards, are cards for which you meet the requirements and are highly likely to be approved. As you build your credit score, you may begin receiving pre-approved credit card applications in the mail, inviting you to apply. You can also get pre-approved online.

Many credit card companies offer pre-approval through their websites. This allows prospective applicants to see if they have a chance of being approved without having to authorize a hard credit inquiry (which can negatively affect your credit score).

A credit card pre-approval application will ask you to input a few personal details, usually your address, annual or monthly income, and monthly expenses. The credit card company will let you know whether you've been pre-approved based on that information. If yes, you'll have an excellent chance of being officially approved after a credit check. You can then formally apply for the credit card by authorizing a hard credit pull.

You can complete this entire process online, and usually, you'll receive a verdict within a few minutes. 

What to Do After You Get Your Credit Card?

More Credit Card Companies

Once you receive your credit card, you'll have to sign the back of the card and activate it (if you haven't already done so online). You'll receive instructions on how to activate your new credit card in the letter it comes with. Usually, you must call a number or visit a website to verify that you've received it and program a PIN for using it. 

What to Do If Your Credit Card Doesn't Arrive

New or Replacement Card

If your credit card doesn't arrive within the timeframe the credit card company promised, you should contact them directly. If the credit card has been stolen, you're at risk of fraudulent charges or identity theft, so it's essential to deactivate it and request a replacement card as soon as possible.

The credit card company will be able to advise you on the card's status, whether it has been activated and what you should do next. 

What is the Minimum Credit Score to get a Credit Card?

Replacement Credit Card

The minimum credit score needed to qualify for a credit card varies depending on the type of card you apply for. Generally, if you have a credit score of at least 660, you should have a very good chance of being approved for a credit card. 

If your score is below this, it doesn't mean that getting a credit card is out of the question. There are many credit cards aimed at individuals who are new to building credit or are working to repair their credit. The minimum credit score for these cards is typically much lower than the 660 average. 

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The Bottom Line

The amount of time it takes to get a credit card can vary greatly depending on how you submit the application, the type of card you apply for, and how well qualified you are. Unsurprisingly, applying online is usually the fastest route, allowing you to be approved within minutes. Thanks to pre-approval services, you can now verify your likelihood of approval for many credit cards before wasting time submitting a formal application. 

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Janine DeVault
Janine DeVault

Janine is a writer who focuses on topics such as credit education, money management, and renting best practices for tenants and landlords. Janine loves to travel and has lived in Canada, the US, and Mexico.

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