How long does it take to get a credit card?

In a world of online shopping and express delivery, it’s natural to want things quickly. But how quickly can you get a credit card? First, there’s the application and approval process. And then there’s the matter of actually getting the card in your hands.

But if you know how, it’s possible to get a new credit card and start using it the same day. Read on to learn more about the process and ways to get your credit card faster.

Key takeaways

  • The exact timeline for getting approved for a credit card can vary. But issuers must tell you their decision within 30 days.

  • Once it’s approved, many credit card issuers, including Capital One, say you can expect to receive your new card in the mail within 7-10 days.

  • If you reported your card lost or stolen, a replacement credit card will likely be delivered within 1-7 days.

  • Virtual card numbers, sometimes called instant-use credit cards, might let you access your credit line as soon as you’re approved, without having to wait for your physical card to arrive.

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How long does it take to get credit card approval?

Getting approved—or denied—could take anywhere from seconds to weeks. You could be approved for a credit card right away if you apply online. That’s if your application satisfies the lender’s credit policies. If the issuer needs more information to decide, it could take longer.

You could also get approved or denied quickly if you apply over the phone or in person. If you apply by mail, you’ll have to wait for your application to get there and for the decision to be mailed back.

However you apply, issuers must give you a decision within 30 days of receiving your complete application.

Why is my credit card application pending?

When you submit a credit card application, the card issuer will look at the information you provided in your application to decide whether to approve you for the card you applied for.

Card issuers will usually look at factors like your credit report, credit history, credit scores and income, as well as any sources of debt or financial obligation, including mortgages or rent payments.

Sometimes you may find out you’re approved for a new credit card almost instantly. But other times, the lender may need more time to review your application or ask for additional information. 

If you don’t get a decision right away, there are a few reasons why your application may be taking longer:

You may be able to help prevent some of the above issues by filling out credit applications as completely and honestly as you can. That could help the review and approval process happen a little quicker. And if your credit reports are frozen, you’ll have to unfreeze them, at least temporarily, to allow lenders to review your credit history.

A person holds a letter with a card attached.

How long does it take for a credit card to arrive in the mail?

Exactly how long it takes to receive your credit card in the mail depends on the issuer and the postal service. But many issuers, including Capital One, say you can expect to receive your card in the mail within 7-10 business days of being approved, or even sooner for replacement cards.

Keep in mind, if you’re approved for a secured credit card, you’ll have to fund the deposit before the card ships.

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

For most major card issuers, the standard delivery time for replacement cards is between 1 and 7 business days. Capital One’s standard delivery time is 4-6 business days. You can check with your card issuer to get more specifics on what to expect. 

But to get the process started, you first need to let your card issuer know that your card is lost or stolen

Once your lender knows, the missing card is usually deactivated. And then the card issuer can start setting you up with a new card, which might include assigning you a new card number. If your card was damaged and you need a replacement, you may not be assigned a new number. 

Capital One cardholders can request replacement cards online. Lost or stolen cards can also be reported by calling 800-277-4825.

Why haven’t I received my credit card yet?

So you’re through the application process but still waiting on your card? It might help to remember that it can take up to 10 business days to receive your card in the mail. And again, if you’re waiting on a secured card, it may not ship until you’ve funded your security deposit.

Otherwise, it may be easiest to reach out to your card issuer to see what’s going on.

If you’ve applied for a Capital One credit card, you can check your application status anytime by calling 800-903-9177.

Why do credit cards take so long to arrive?

Remember that it might take credit card issuers longer to approve your credit card application depending on how you apply and the status of your credit.

If you’re approved, which must happen within 30 days, the card could still take 10 full business days to arrive after approval, not including weekends and holidays.

But if you want a credit card sooner, you may have other options.

How fast can I get a credit card?

Can’t wait for your credit card? Here are some ways you can try to speed up the process:

Get pre-approved

Getting pre-approved is an optional extra step that can save you time by focusing on credit cards you’re likely to be approved for. That’s because pre-approval lets you see which cards you could be eligible for before you apply. 

To see if you’re pre-approved, the lender will usually ask you for some basic information. Getting pre-approved involves a soft inquiry of your credit. So it won’t hurt your credit scores.

But remember, pre-approval, like pre-qualification, is just an indicator. If you decide to apply for a credit card, you may have to take a few extra steps to fill out the full application, which could result in a hard inquiry of your credit. This could affect your credit scores.

Aim for instant approval

It’s important to note that instant approval doesn’t necessarily mean your card will be available for use immediately. If that’s what you’re after, you can look for credit cards that offer instant use. But instant approval could mean that you receive your credit card faster—even if you have less-than-perfect credit.

To improve your chances of getting instant approval, you need to choose a card issuer that offers application reviews in real time. It can also help to know your credit scores and, with help from a pre-approval tool, apply for cards designed for your credit level. 

At Capital One, pre-approval can take 60 seconds or less. Combining this with an online application could get you a response in minutes.

Request expedited shipping

If you can’t wait the standard 7-10 business days to receive your credit card in the mail, you could try asking if your issuer offers expedited shipping. Just keep in mind that you might be charged a fee for the service.

Can I use a credit card before it arrives?

If you want to be able to use your card as soon as you’re approved, it can be helpful to consider applying for a credit card that offers instant access after approval—also known as instant use.

Depending on the card and card issuer, you might be able to access your account details as soon as you’re approved. That means you might not have to wait until you get the actual card in the mail in order to use it.

Here’s how you could start using your new line of credit:

  • Virtually: You may have access to your new credit card details online or via a mobile app. Some issuers may also give you virtual card numbers for more secure shopping online. That’s the case with Capital One virtual card numbers

  • In person: If you can add your credit card to your digital wallet, you can use your phone, watch or other smart device to make in-store purchases at participating retailers.

What’s the difference between instant use and instant approval?

Instant use isn’t the same as instant approval. With instant-approval credit cards, you could know if your application gets approved within minutes, but you’ll typically have to wait until you receive your card to use it. Instant-use credit cards allow you to use them as soon as you’re approved.

How soon can I use a credit card once approved?

If your credit card issuer allows you to use a virtual credit card, you can use your card as soon as you’re approved. If not, you’ll have to wait 7-10 business days for it to arrive in the mail or pay for expedited shipping. Just don’t forget to activate your card once you receive it.

Same-day credit card

It’s possible to apply for and use a credit card within the same day. If you look for credit cards in your credit score range and apply online, you may get approved within minutes. Many Capital One credit cards provide a virtual card option once approved, so you could use it the same day you apply.

How long it takes to get a credit card in a nutshell

Getting a new credit card can be a process—whether it ends up taking seconds or weeks. But like many things, you can help smooth the process with a bit of preparation. Having a clear sense of your credit score and getting pre-approved can help expedite the process and get your credit card into your hands faster.

Whether you’re looking to earn rewards, build your credit or not pay an annual fee, compare Capital One credit cards to get started.

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