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What Does it Mean When Your Credit Card Application is Pending?

Most credit card approval decisions are instant, but sometimes the card issuer needs more time to process your application.

Getty / KucherAV

When you apply for a credit card, most issuers will give you their decision relatively quickly. If you apply online, you’ll often receive a decision right away. When you apply by mail or phone, however, it may take a little longer. If the lender needs more time to review your financial information, it may take a few days or weeks to get an answer.

If you don’t receive an approval or denial right away, your application may be listed as “pending” or “under review” on the issuer website or app. If you find yourself in that situation, here’s what may be going on behind the scenes. 

Why is my application pending?

If your application is under review, it’s likely because the card issuer needs more time to verify your income. If the issuer can’t verify your income instantly and needs to conduct more research, it will likely pause your application.

“Card issuers define income broadly,” said Ted Rossman, a senior industry analyst at CNET-sister site Bankrate. “You can include your entire household income, so your spouse’s wages, your investment income, alimony, child support, all qualify.”

Ultimately, the issuer needs to verify your income to ensure you’re capable of paying back what you borrow.

Although reviewing your income information is the most common reason why your credit card application may be pending, it’s not the only one. Some other reasons include:

  • There’s a mistake on your application. If there’s a typo on your application or if the credit card issuer can’t verify some piece of personal information, it may pause your application and reach out for clarification.
  • You froze your credit reports. If you’ve recently had to freeze your credit reports, you’ll have to unfreeze them in order to be approved for any new credit products.
  • The issuer has a high number of applications to review. If there’s an influx of credit applications when you apply, it may increase the time it takes for the issuer to process yours.

Can you avoid a pending status when applying for a credit card?

While there’s not always a way to ensure your credit card application is approved or denied right away, there are some steps you can take to avoid a pending status.

First, take your time when filling out the credit card application and answer as fully and truthfully as possible. If your information is correct, it’s less likely to be held because of an application error. And, if you’re worried about your approval odds, consider prequalifying for the card first, to find out if you’re likely to be approved, without dinging your credit. Just keep in mind that even if you’re prequalified for a credit product, it doesn’t guarantee you’ll be approved.

“Being preapproved can give you some peace of mind,” Rossman said. “Not only does [getting rejected] feel bad, but it usually saddles you with a hard inquiry on your credit report without a new credit card or sign-up bonus to show for it.”

Lastly, you might consider applying for a credit card that offers an instant approval decision, so you don’t have to worry about waiting for days or weeks to find out your application status.

What to do if your application is pending

Keep an eye on your email and physical mail for any updates from the card issuer. “They might have specific questions they want you to address, perhaps to clarify some of the information on your application,” Rossman said.

You can also reach out to the credit card issuer’s customer support phone number to find out your status and learn more information. It can take up to a few weeks to find out your approval status.

How to check the status of your application

You can check the status of your application by contacting the credit card issuer. Most issuers will let also let you check online, but you can also reach out to customer support by phone:

  • American Express: 1-800-392-2000
  • Capital One: 1-800-903-9177
  • Citi: 866-606-2787
  • Bank of America: 866-422-8089
  • Wells Fargo: 1-800-967-9521 
  • Discover: 1-800-347-3085

What to do if your credit application is denied

In the event that your credit card application is denied, while it may be stressful, there are still a few steps you can take. Work to improve your credit score or reach out to the credit card issuer’s reconsideration line. According to Rossman, about one in five credit card applications are denied.

“Understand why you were turned down and [then] try to resolve those factors,” Rossman said. “Spend six months working on your credit score and apply again when you’re in a better place.”

Taking time between credit card applications can reduce the number of hard inquiries on your credit report, which is certainly something to avoid. Consider applying for a secured credit card that has much lower credit requirements than a standard credit card, and then practice responsible credit habits, such as paying your bill in full each month, to help boost your credit score.

The bottom line

Although most credit card decisions take a matter of seconds, sometimes the issuer needs more time to process your application. Your credit card application could be pending for a number of reasons, but the most common reason is that the card issuer is verifying your income. You can check your application status online or by phone with the card provider. It could take a few weeks to receive a decision, though the card issuer has 30 days to report back to you.


You may be able to avoid a lengthy application process by first getting preapproved for a card or applying for a credit card that offers instant approval.


Credit card issuers have to give you an answer on your application within 30 days of receiving the application, according to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. However, barring any issues, you should get an answer instantly.

The fastest way to apply for a credit card is online. If you’re worried about your credit score, it may be worthwhile to apply for preapproval first.

It can take up to 14 calendar days to receive your new credit card, according to Experian, though this timeframe varies by issuer. If you don’t receive your card within this timeframe, reach out to customer service online or by phone.

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.

Evan Zimmer has been writing about finance for years. After graduating with a journalism degree from SUNY Oswego, he wrote credit card content for Credit Card Insider (now Money Tips) before moving to ZDNET Finance to cover credit card, banking and blockchain news. He currently works with CNET Money to bring readers the most accurate and up-to-date financial information. Otherwise, you can find him reading, rock climbing, snowboarding and enjoying the outdoors.