How Long Does It Take to Get a Credit Card? - A Quick Overview

ByJulija A.
September 23, 2021

Taking up a new credit card is not an easy decision and often takes a lot of time and consideration. However, once you make your choice and apply for one, you might wonder how long you’ll have to wait to get it. 

So, let’s break it down into steps and answer some popular questions. How long does it take to get a credit card? What options do you have to speed up the process?

Typically, the shortest aspect of getting your new card is getting approved. The longest is wait for the card to arrive in the mail.

Applying for a Credit Card

Applying for a credit card can be a lengthy process. Luckily, nowadays, many banks have online credit card application procedures set in place. All you have to do is fill in the online application and submit it. You will likely receive your notice of approval or denial within minutes or as soon as the bank checks your credit score. Don’t worry, even if you don’t have stellar credit. Applying for a card that accepts a 600 score and even lower ones can still result in quick approval, depending on the bank.  

How Long It Takes to Get Approved for a Credit Card

On the other hand, when going with credit card companies that require you to submit your paper application, minutes can turn into weeks. After all, the bank has to receive your application, review it, and then mail the approval decision back. 

While your type of application can slow down the process, the delay could also occur from the bank’s side. It mainly depends on the credit card company’s review policies. 

For example, if you apply for a credit card that has 0% interest, your application could be flagged for manual review. It is common, as these cards require good or stellar credit. This could mean a longer credit card application process, ranging anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.

Of course, if the wait turns out to be longer than a few weeks, it is always advisable to contact the provider’s customer service. If the wait seems too long, there might be something wrong with your application. 

Preapproved credit card offers could also land in your mail. If you’ve received one of these, it means that the card issuer has already assessed your credit. The providers do this using a soft inquiry, and they can flag you as a potential candidate. Don’t rush to accept preapproved offers, especially if you are yet to start building your credit through credit cards as a young adult. Some may offer favorable conditions for building credit, but chances are you’ll find a better option if you look around a bit. Remember that pre-approval is not the same as an official credit card approval. You’ll still have to submit an application and meet all the required criteria.

Lastly, if you need your credit card quickly, you should look for offers that promise instant credit card approval. It will guarantee the swiftness of the approval process. However, make sure you’re not taking on higher interest rates or an unfitting rewards system in exchange for approval speed. You can always transfer your balance to a card with better rates. Still, it is better to compare your chosen card with other options on the market before you sign up. 

How Long Does It Take to Get a Credit Card After Approval?

Once you submit your application and get approved for a card, the provider has to mail the credit card to you, which can take some time. The credit card delivery time can and will likely vary from one provider to another. The most common timeframe ranges between 7-10 business days. Some will provide you with a quick digital card number that allows you to start shopping online while you wait for your card to arrive in the mail.

Of course, there are also those offers that promise credit card overnight delivery or expedited shipping so that you can start using your credit card sooner. Other providers might promise temporary credit cards, which you can use instantly. 

If you are not in a rush and are more concerned with your credit score and its effect on approval rates, it won’t matter as much. Still, if you would like to know how long you will wait, here are some of the most popular credit card providers and their promised wait times.

Card Issuer

Waiting Time

Chase

3 to 5 business days

Discover 

5 to 7 business days

American Express

7 to 10 business days

Capital One

7 to 10 business days

U.S. Bank

7 to 10 business days

Bank of America

Within 10 business days

So, how long does it take to get a credit card in the mail? As you can see from the table above, the typical waiting times are often over a week long, often even up to two weeks. It depends on the issuer, your score is on the FICO scale, and the type of credit card you requested. If you want a replacement card, these timeframes are typically shorter, but, again, delivery times will depend on the provider.

Furthermore, some providers allow for expedited shipping, and others don’t. For example, Chase offers to expedite the deliveries of both new and replacement cards. With Chase, you will likely get a card within the three-day timeframe this way. Barclays charges $15-$29 to expedite delivery, while Wells Fargo doesn’t provide the option to do so in the first place.

What if you Don’t Get a Credit Card on Time?

If it’s been more than a few weeks and your credit card hasn’t arrived yet, it is time to contact the provider’s customer service. If you have decided to go with a bank as your card provider, you can visit the local branch and ask for a temporary card. 

Even if you don’t need the card right away, contacting the provider can be beneficial for another reason - your card could get lost or stolen. The provider can track it, and in case it is lost or stolen, they can immediately cancel it and issue you a new one.

Q&As
How do I know if I am approved for a credit card? +

Credit card application processing can take some time, up to 30 days on occasion. Some people might find the timeframe providers have for accepting an application troublesome. Contacting customer services after a two-week wait is a good option. That way, you’ll know the status of your application and whether you should look into another option. 

Can I use the credit card before it arrives? +

With some providers, you’ll have the option for instant credit card approval and use. For example, some American Express and Bank of America cards come with card numbers you can use instantly upon approval. You can use these numbers to add the cards to your existing wallets within the same bank or use them in stores where a physical card is not explicitly required.

If you have your bank’s local branch nearby, visit it and check whether you can get temporary cards which you can use while your cards arrive in the mail.

Can you get a credit card in one day? +

Getting a credit card in one day is next to impossible, but here are some alternatives to consider if you need to make a large purchase via credit card right away. Since the answer to the question “how long does it take to get a credit card” is up to ten working days on average, we need a better solution.

Many providers allow same-day credit card approvals; some of them even offer instant ones. You can also get a temporary card to use, which some providers charge extra. Alternatively, some banks will provide you with a temporary digital card number that you can use to make purchases while you wait for your card to arrive.

About author

Albert Einstein is said to have identified compound interest as mankind’s greatest invention. That story’s probably apocryphal, but it conveys a deep truth about the power of fiscal policy to change the world along with our daily lives. Civilization became possible only when Sumerians of the Bronze Age invented money. Today, economic issues influence every aspect of daily life. My job at Fortunly is an opportunity to analyze government policies and banking practices, sharing the results of my research in articles that can help you make better, smarter decisions for yourself and your family.

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