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How Long Does It Take to Get a Credit Card?

Applying and getting approved for a credit card can be done in minutes but receiving a physical card in the mail typically takes 3 – 10 days. Some credit card issuers will offer instant use of your credit account and in order to take advantage of that, they may offer you access to a virtual card. Using credit can be important to building your credit score and preparing yourself for a larger purchase, like a house. However, if you start to be unable to pay for the credit you’re using you may need to consult with a financial advisor to help you get your finances back on track.

How Long Does It Take to Get Credit Card Approval?

These days, applying for a new credit card usually isn’t too hard. You can simply fill out an online form, make a phone call, or mail in a paper application. You’ll have to provide some personal information on the application. This includes your Social Security number, your employment status, and details about your bank accounts. But generally, you can expect approval for a new credit card fairly quickly.

In some cases, like with online applications, approval for a new credit card comes in a matter of minutes. Many card issuers like Capital One, Discover and American Express have instant approval credit card offers.

But sometimes, approval for a new credit card can take a couple of weeks. That can happen if you mail in your application. Firstly, it will take time for the credit card company to receive the form. Then they have to input your information manually.

The process could also take longer if you applied for a card that requires excellent credit. That kind of application could require a manual review of your application. When the credit card issuer needs to further review your information, it will take more time to receive a response of your approval.

Knowing which companies offer instant credit approval can be helpful, especially if you don’t have much time to waste. If you’re going abroad in a month, for example, you’ll want a card without a foreign transaction fee – and quickly.

What Credit Card Issuers Consider Before Approving Applications  

How Long Does It Take to Get a Credit Card?

Credit card issuers consider a number of factors when reviewing applications for new credit. Many will be able to automatically approve you if you meet the minimum requirements for each of their consideration categories. But if you are on the border of being approved you’ll likely have to be reviewed by an internal team. The things that these companies review to approve your credit can include:

  • Credit Score: Credit card issuers typically get at least one national credit reporting bureau to check applicants’ credit scores. Generally, the higher your score, the faster your application is approved.
  • Your Debt: Your debt-to-credit ratio (also known as your credit utilization ratio) also plays an important part in approval. The ratio is how much credit you’ve used relative to your available credit line. This ratio affects your credit score, weighing about 30%. Maxing out some of the credit cards in your wallet or getting close to your credit limit can make you seem like a risky borrower.
  • Delinquent Accounts and Credit Pulls: Credit card issuers also check to see whether applicants have any delinquent accounts and recent hard inquiries. Delinquencies appear on your credit report due to a history of late payments or too many credit applications in a short amount of time. With delinquencies on your report, you’ll likely see your odds of approval drop.
  • Income: Credit agencies will want to know what your income is, and whether you are employed or in business yourself. Employed income is typically considered the least risky.

How Long Does It Take to Receive a Credit Card?

If you’re approved for a new credit card, most companies say that your card will arrive within seven to 10 business days. That’s just an estimate and consumers usually don’t have to wait that long to get their credit cards. In many cases, you can receive your new card in the mail in five business days or less.

If you can’t wait a week or two to receive your new card, you can find out whether your credit card company offers expedited shipping. You may have to pay a fee for that, though, if the company does offer expedited shipping.

If your card still hasn’t arrived after weeks of checking your mailbox day after day, there was probably a snag with your application. Maybe you made a mistake on your application and the credit card company took more time to review your information. Or maybe you applied for the card over the weekend and the issuer couldn’t start processing your card until the next business day.

Bottom Line

How Long Does It Take to Get a Credit Card?

Nowadays, it doesn’t take very long to get a credit card. Consumers can get approved for a card instantly or in a couple of weeks. At the latest, you’ll receive your card in the mail seven to 10 business days after you’re approved. However, it’s very likely that you’ll receive it much sooner than that. It’s also possible that you could get access to your newly approved credit account through the use of a virtual card, in some circumstances.

Tips For Getting New Credit Cards

  • While using credit cards can boost your score, you may want to speak to a financial advisor to help you create a plan that will achieve just that. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • While you probably shouldn’t apply to every credit card under the sun, applying to the right ones might help you more than others. For example, you can find a rewards credit card for cashback or bonus airline miles. You might, instead, look for a balance transfer credit card to get a better rate on your debt from another credit card while you pay it off.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/baona, ©iStock.com/PeopleImages ©iStock.com/Juanmonino

Amanda Dixon Amanda Dixon is a personal finance writer and editor with an expertise in taxes and banking. She studied journalism and sociology at the University of Georgia. Her work has been featured in Business Insider, AOL, Bankrate, The Huffington Post, Fox Business News, Mashable and CBS News. Born and raised in metro Atlanta, Amanda currently lives in Brooklyn.
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