How Long Does it Take to Get a Credit Card?

Need credit? Let’s look at how long it takes to get a credit card and how you can speed up the process.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Credit Card?

Looking to make a big purchase or just need some cash? You might be thinking about applying for a credit card. But how long does credit card approval take? Is it a super long process or Amazon Prime speed? 

Dw, we’ve got the tea. A credit card typically takes 7-10 business days from application processing to arriving at your door. This range varies by lender and card type, so it’s a good idea to ask the credit card company about its timeline if you’re in a hurry. 

If you’re expecting a replacement card, that can usually take a week. Some lenders offer express shipping for a fee. As usual, there’s a caveat. As credit cards now rely on microchip tech, any chip shortages can mean your card takes longer to arrive. 

How Long Does It Take To Get Approved For A Credit Card?

Credit card approvals can take anywhere from seconds to 30 days. If you’re pre-approved, you’ll find the process super fast and simple. 

If you’re not, it’ll take longer. But the credit card company legally has to tell you whether they’ve approved your application or not within 30 days. 

Wondering why it might be taking so long? Here are some reasons:

  • The lender is checking your income level
  • You’ve applied for credit too often
  • Your application and credit report don’t match
  • Your credit is frozen—people freeze their credit to prevent fraud
  • Your application details are wrong
  • The lender has a backlog of applications to work through

What Is Required To Get A Credit Card?

It’s good to be prepared before applying to avoid holding up your application. Here’s some info you may need to provide:

  1. Legal name
  2. Birth date: You need to be 21 to apply or 18 with proof of independent income (depending on your state)
  3. Social Security number (SSN) or Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN)
  4. Mailing address
  5. Employment status
  6. Income information
  7. Debt information

You’ll likely also need to give the lender permission to access your credit file. They check your credit history to make sure you’re not pretending to be you and aren’t all YOLO with credit. These checks prevent fraud and irresponsible lending. In theory.

How To Get A Credit Card Faster

7-10 days not fast enough for you? Luckily, you’ve got options:

  • Pay for expedited shipping: Some companies offer this service. Some charge a fee, while others provide it for free.
  • Instant access cards: Yep, they’re a thing. You receive a card number as soon as you’re approved, which you can use immediately via your phone. You’ll receive a physical card in the mail within 7-10 days as usual.
  • Instant approval: Rather than waiting for approval, look for instant approval offers. Apply carefully so you don’t damage your credit score. 

Why Was My Credit Card Application Declined?

If your credit application’s been declined, it can be pretty anxiety-inducing if you’re already stressing about money. 

Common reasons for a declined credit application include:

  • Your income level
  • Your existing debt
  • Your credit score

If your income is too low for the amount you want to borrow, a lender may see you as too risky to lend to. 

Already got a lot of debt compared to your earnings? Lenders may feel it’s irresponsible to pile more debt on your plate. This isn’t entirely selfless of them. They’re less worried about your mental and financial health and more worried that you won’t pay them back 🙃

And your credit score is a big one. If you’ve got any red flags on your credit file, such as missed payments, lenders are probably gonna swerve you. 

Looking at your score to find ways to improve can be really helpful. The three main credit reporting bureaus (CRBs) are TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Making an account with any of these allows you to see your score and what’s impacting it. 

Wondering how long to wait between credit card applications? Generally, it’s recommended to wait at least 90 days between applications, although some recommend six months. 

Ready to geek out and learn how to build your credit score to get a credit card? Check out Cleo’s blog on building your credit without a credit card. 

What Happens When I Get My Credit Card?

Congrats, your new card has arrived 👏 

Been aggressively asking Google, “how to use a credit card immediately??” It’s almost time, but you’ve got to do a few lil things before you can use it. 

First, you’ve gotta activate your card. It may have a sticker on it telling you what to do, or the accompanying letter might give instructions. 

Some card issuers provide a telephone number. Don’t worry, they’re automated. No people. Others provide a website to visit. Keep your card handy in case you need the details. 

Now sign your card. Not just anywhere like an autograph, there’s a box on the back. Your signature means your card is valid and ready to use.

You’ll need to create an account with the credit card provider to manage your card. These accounts usually allow you to check your balance, make payments, check your statements, and more. You may also want to download the provider’s credit card app if it offers one. 

Finally... Set up automatic payments to your credit card. This is key to responsible credit card ownership 🫡 If you’ve got a 0% interest card, you might want to just make the minimum payments until the introductory period ends and interest is due to increase, but make sure you keep the cash aside to pay it off when that time comes. Otherwise, clearing your balance every month prevents interest charges. 

It’s a good idea to keep an eye on your credit score now you’ve got your card. If you use too much of your available credit, your score could dip. You can also work on building your credit alongside your card. 

Cleo’s final thoughts

Credit cards can be a crucial part of your finances, so knowing how long it takes to get one is great knowledge to have. Ensuring your credit score is accurate and the application details are correct can make the process faster.

Over traditional lenders and credit checks? If you’re looking for a ✨ cooler ✨ way to build credit, Cleo’s got you 💙


Turn your everyday purchases into a credit score good enough for your Hinge profile.

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