Activating a new credit card: what you need to know

Whether you replaced a lost card or signed up for a new account, it’s important to know how to activate your new credit card once it arrives in the mail. Luckily, activating a new card is usually a simple process. And you can use these guidelines to help make credit card activation a breeze. 

Key takeaways

  • Activating a new credit card is an easy process that you may be able to do online, using a mobile app or by phone.
  • Be prepared to verify your identity and your new card information when activating a credit card.
  • Activate your new card as soon as possible, especially if you reported your previous card lost or stolen.
  • Spend some time looking into all your card’s benefits and features, so you know how to get the most out of your new card. 

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What to do before activating your card

Here are a few things to consider doing while you’re waiting for your new card to come in the mail:

How to activate your new credit card

Once you get your new card in the mail, it’s time to activate it. While you wait for your card, you may be able to use account features like virtual card numbers to access your credit line right away.

Activating a new credit card is simple. And there may be several ways to do it. But regardless of the method you choose, be prepared to verify your identity and your new card information. 

Here are a few ways you may be able to activate a new credit card:


There will typically be an activation URL or QR code on your new card or with the paperwork that came with your new card in the mail. 

Visit the website and enter the necessary information to activate your card. Keep in mind that you might have to create an online account with the issuer if you don’t have one already.

Mobile app

Some providers allow you to activate your card using their mobile app. You’ll likely have to start by downloading the app to your device. Then, if you haven’t already, create an account and sign in. 

You can also likely use the app for more than just card activation. For example, here are just a few other things you can do using the Capital One Mobile app

  • Access your statements, stay on top of your spending and view enhanced transactions in real time. 
  • Instantly lock your credit or debit card in just a few taps if it’s ever misplaced, lost or stolen. 
  • Securely access virtual cards from your phone so you can make purchases online without using your actual card number. 
  • See how many credit card rewards you’ve racked up and a rundown of your rewards history. Plus, easily redeem your rewards right within the app. 


You may also be able to activate your new card over the phone. To find the phone number, check the sticker on your card, the back of the card or the paperwork you were sent. Once you call it, follow the prompts to activate your card.

Just make sure you’re getting the phone number from an official source so you can avoid any phishing or vishing scams

How to activate a Capital One credit card

The easiest way to activate your Capital One credit card is on the Capital One website or using the Capital One Mobile app. But first, you’ll need to be enrolled in online banking. If you’re already enrolled, simply sign in to your account

You’ll need to enter the three-digit security code to complete the activation. So keep your new card close by.

What to do after activating your card

Once you’re done activating your new credit card, you’re ready to use it as usual. But there are a few things to keep in mind after activating a card: 

  • Put safety first. If your new card is a replacement, be sure to destroy your old card immediately. You won’t need it anymore. And whether you’re opening a new account or replacing an old card, check out what kinds of security features come with it, like card lock or purchase notifications. 
  • Go automatic. Consider setting up automatic payments for your monthly credit card bills so you don’t have to worry about late or missed payments. And if you plan on using the card for any other recurring payments—like utility bills—make sure to update your card information with the merchants. 
  • Get digital. Consider signing up for text alerts so you’re always on time and in the know about what’s going on with your account. You may also want to add your card to your digital wallets so you can check out without having to take out your card. 

What happens if you don’t activate your new credit card?

Activating your new card to verify you received it can be an important part of preventing credit card fraud. But even if you don’t activate your new credit card, the account attached to the card will likely remain open. 

If you don’t activate your account and it remains inactive for too long, your credit card issuer may close the account. That’s an inconvenience that can also impact your credit scores

Credit card activation in a nutshell

Credit card activation is a simple process. 

And after you activate your new card, why not think ahead and consider how you’ll use it? Is it your go-to for everyday purchases? Will you use it for big-ticket items only? If it’s a rewards card, how can you make the most of your benefits? Do you earn more rewards on specific purchases, such as entertainment and dining? Or are travel rewards more your thing?

Once you’ve covered all the bases and answered the important questions, you’ll be ready to use your new card responsibly and confidently.

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