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How Long Does It Take to Get a Credit Card?

Applying for a credit card often takes minutes, but receiving the card in the mail is another story.

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Though credit card approval can sometimes take only seconds, your physical card may take between seven and 10 business days to arrive by mail. If you need the card sooner, some issuers might offer virtual card numbers or expedited shipping for a fee upon approval. If you’re applying for a new credit card and want to know how long it will take before you can start using it, here’s what you need to know.  

How to apply for a credit card

Once you find one that meets your credit qualifications, you can apply online. Credit card issuers generally need your name, date of birth, employment status, Social Security number or Tax Identification Number and gross annual income. Some issuers allow you to apply over the phone or by mail, but this may take longer.

How long does it take to get a credit card?

When you apply for a new credit card, the issuer will verify your identity and review your credit history. If you complete the application online, the approval process may only take a few minutes. If your credit score meets the qualifications and your credit history is solid, your chances of quick approval are high. But keep in mind every issuer approaches approval differently. 

Once you’re approved for a new credit card, it may take anywhere from seven to 10 business days to receive the physical card in the mail, depending on the issuer. Some card issuers offer expedited shipping, though it may cost you a fee.

Retail store credit cards are typically available for immediate use if you apply for one in-store and you’re approved. And if you apply for a credit card and the issuer has a branch near you, you may be able to get a temporary card to use immediately.

What is instant approval?

With instant approval credit cards, issuers immediately let you know whether or not you’re approved. Depending on the issuer, instant approval may mean you have access to both your account number and your credit card number upon approval. Some issuers may even give you a virtual credit card number you can use right away if you’re approved. 

You don’t have to have excellent credit to qualify for an instant approval credit card. In fact, many instant approval cards are secured credit cards geared toward people looking to work on their credit. 

What is preapproval?

Preapproval doesn’t guarantee you’ll be approved for a credit card. Still, some credit card issuers run a soft credit check to indicate whether someone will likely be approved for a specific card. Soft credit checks don’t impact your credit score, unlike hard inquiries

Most issuers allow you to first check your preapproval odds online to see if it’s worth submitting a formal application. If you’re preapproved for a credit card and want move forward with an application, a hard credit check will take place, which may reduce your credit score by up to 5 points.  

How to get a replacement credit card

If you lose your credit card, you should contact your issuer online, by phone or through the mobile app as soon as possible. After deactivating your card, your issuer will mail you a replacement card with a new number. It typically takes up to a week to receive a replacement card, depending on the situation. 

Many issuers allow cardholders to temporarily freeze their credit cards directly from the mobile app, in which case you can reactivate your card if you find your credit card.

Correction: An earlier version of this article was assisted by an AI engine and it mischaracterized some aspects of CDs. Those points were all corrected. This version has been substantially updated by a staff writer.

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.

Liliana Hall is a writer for CNET Money covering banking, credit cards and mortgages. Previously, she wrote about personal credit for Bankrate and She is passionate about providing accessible content to enhance financial literacy. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor's degree in journalism, and has worked in the newsrooms of KUT and the Austin Chronicle. When not working, she is probably paddle boarding, hopping on a flight or reading for her book club.
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