Guide to Pending Credit Card Charges

Guide to Pending Credit Card Charges

When you make a transaction with a credit card, it’s common for a temporary hold to be issued to your account. These pending credit card charges are often used by merchants to verify your account details. While pending credit card charges may affect your total available credit, they don’t have any impact on the amount you owe.

There are several different reasons why you might see a pending charge on your credit card account. If you check into a hotel, the hotel company may put a pending charge on your account to cover any damage or incidental expenses you charge to your room. Similarly, a sit-down restaurant may place a hold or pending charge or hold on your credit card for the amount of the bill, only finalizing the charge once you’ve elected how much to tip.

What Are Pending Transactions on a Credit Card?

Pending transactions on a credit card are temporary holds on your credit card account, often representing transactions that have not been finalized. These transactions usually show up on your online account, but often in a different color or font, differentiating them from posted transactions.

Pending transactions may affect how much credit you have available. However, you won’t have to actually pay them until and unless they actually post to your account.

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Recommended: What is a Charge Card

What Causes Pending Credit Card Charges?

There are a number of things that can cause pending credit card charges. Here are some of the most common.

Recommended: Does Applying For a Credit Card Hurt Your Credit Score

Credit Card Holds

One of the most common causes of pending credit card charges are credit card holds. Credit card holds happen when the merchant places an initial hold when you start a transaction.

One common scenario for a credit card hold is when you check into a hotel. The hotel company will put an initial hold on your card when you check in. This initial hold may be for more than your actual hotel bill, so as to cover any potential damages or expenses you charge to your room. Then, when you check out, the hold is removed and a final charge is posted to your credit card account.

Billing Errors

Another potential cause of pending credit card charges are billing errors. If there is a mistake on a billed transaction, it may show up as pending until the merchant corrects the error. This can happen during credit card processing, and it may take several days to resolve.

Fraud

It’s also possible that a pending charge can be the result of fraud. Most credit card issuers regularly and proactively monitor accounts for potential fraudulent transactions. If your issuer spots a transaction that might be fraudulent, they may deny the transaction or keep it in a pending status until they can verify its authenticity.

Anti-Fraud Preauthorizations

Because credit card issuers are actively monitoring accounts for fraud, they may also place a pending charge that serves as an anti-fraud measure. Most credit cards have a $0 fraud liability policy, meaning that you are not liable for any unauthorized transactions. As part of this, you may see pending charges or refunds from your card issuer as an anti-fraud measure.

Changing Your Mind About a Purchase

If you’ve changed your mind about a purchase and the transaction is still showing up as pending, you may be able to more easily cancel it with the merchant. Contact the merchant as soon as possible to see if you can get a credit card refund before the transaction officially posts to your account.

How Long Do Pending Credit Card Transactions Take?

Most pending credit card transactions will stay in a pending state for a few days. After the initial pending period, they will either post to your account, getting added to your total credit card balance, or fall off, in the case of a temporary hold.

In certain rare cases, some pending transactions may stay on your account for a longer time. If that has happened to you, reach out to your credit card issuer to see what options you have.

How Does a Pending Charge Affect My Balance?

Any pending charges do not count toward or affect your statement balance. This means that they won’t be included in your required payment or the amount of credit card purchase interest that you’re potentially charged.

However, pending charges do typically count against your total available credit (here’s more on the difference between credit card available and current balance). This could mean you have less available to spend than you might otherwise think.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

Tips for Canceling a Pending Credit Card Charge

Because pending credit card charges have not officially been posted to your account, you generally can’t cancel them by doing a credit card chargeback with your issuer. Instead, if you want to dispute credit card charges that are still pending, you’ll need to contact the merchant directly.

If the merchant is not willing to cancel the charge, you can follow up with the credit card company once the charge is posted to your account.

Recommended: Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly

The Takeaway

It is common for new charges to show up as pending when they’re first created. This may be because the merchant is still processing the transaction or due to the placement of temporary hold until the transaction is completed (like with a hotel or rental car). Pending charges do not count toward your statement balance, but they usually do reduce your total available credit. Most pending transactions either post to or fall off of your account within a few days.

If you’re looking for a new credit card with $0 fraud liability, you might consider a cash-back rewards credit card like the SoFi credit card. If you get a credit card with SoFi, you can earn unlimited cash-back rewards, which you can use to invest in fractional shares, apply as a statement credit, or put toward other financial goals you might have, like paying down eligible SoFi debt.

Apply for a SoFi credit card today!

FAQ

Are pending credit card charges included in the current balance?

Pending credit card charges are not usually included in your current credit card balance. They should not be part of the calculation of your minimum payment due or interest charges. However, pending charges may affect the total amount of credit that you have available to you.

Do pending transactions show on credit card statements?

Pending transactions do not typically appear on your credit card statement as charges that are included in your statement balance. That means that any pending transactions that you have will not be subject to credit card purchase interest charges or credit card fees. You will not be charged fees or interest until the charge actually posts to your account.

Can you pay off pending transactions on a credit card?

Because pending transactions are not officially posted to your account, you won’t be able to make payments against them. One reason for this is that pending charges are by their nature temporary — so it’s possible they may end up posting for a different amount or being removed completely before they hit your account. You’ll want to keep an eye on your account to see what happens when a pending transaction actually posts.


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1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
The SoFi Credit Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri (TBOM) (“Issuer”) pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.
Members earn 2 rewards points for every dollar spent on eligible purchases. If you elect to redeem points for cash deposited into your SoFi Checking or Savings account, SoFi Money® account, fractional shares or cryptocurrency in your SoFi Active Invest account, or as a payment to your SoFi Personal, Private Student, or Student Loan Refinance, your points will redeem at a rate of 1 cent per every point. If you elect to redeem points as a statement credit to your SoFi Credit Card account, your points will redeem at a rate of 0.5 cents per every point. For more details please visit the Rewards page. Brokerage and Active investing products offered through SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA/SIPC. SoFi Securities LLC is an affiliate of SoFi Bank, N.A.
SoFi cardholders earn 2% unlimited cash back rewards when redeemed to save, invest, or pay down eligible SoFi debt. Cardholders earn 1% cash back rewards when redeemed for a statement credit.1

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Private Label Credit Cards, Explained

Private Label Credit Cards, Explained

Private label credit cards are a particular kind of credit card that’s typically only good at one specific store. Some stores or other merchants offer private label credit cards to give better terms to certain customers than they might otherwise be able to offer. Many merchants also provide these cards as an incentive for customers to spend more, since they can potentially defer payment and/or earn loyalty rewards.

These perks are among the reasons why private label credit cards are popular. But before you start thinking about how to get a private label credit card, it’s important to consider their pros and cons.

Recommended: Can You Buy Crypto With a Credit Card

What Is a Private Label Credit Card?

Also called a store credit card or a closed loop credit card, private label credit cards are credit cards that can only be used at one particular store or merchant.

Generally, a merchant’s private label credit card is partnered with and issued by a third-party financial institution, such as a bank. These institutions act as private label credit card issuers, and they’re responsible for funding the credit line and collecting all payments.

Recommended: Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly

Cash in on up to $300–and 3% cash back for 365 days.¹

Apply and get approved for the SoFi Credit Card. Then open a bank account with qualifying direct deposits. Some things are just better together.


How Do Private Label Credit Cards Work?

If you understand how credit cards work, you’ll know they usually can be used anywhere the processor (often Visa or Mastercard) is accepted. In contrast, private label cards are intended for use only at the store or merchant where they are issued.

In other respects, private label cards work in much the same way as traditional credit cards. These cards offer a revolving line of credit that cardholders can borrow against, up to their predetermined credit limit. It’s necessary to make at least a minimum credit card payment to avoid a late payment fee. Balances that carry over from month to month will accrue interest.

Recommended: What is the Average Credit Card Limit

Getting a Private Label Credit Card

In most cases, the easiest way to get a private label credit card is to apply at the store that’s issuing or sponsoring the private label credit card. Many stores offer incentives for applying for their private label card while you’re shopping in the store. You also may be able to sign up for a private label card on the store’s website.

But even if you can get one, should you get a private label credit card? Choosing a credit card depends on your specific financial situation. However, if you have sufficient income and strong credit, you may be able to get a traditional credit card that may offer rewards and more flexibility than a private label card that’s only good at one store may provide.

Recommended: Does Applying For a Credit Card Hurt Your Credit Score

How to Set up a Private Label Credit Card

Because banks or other financial services companies serve as the credit card issuers for most private label credit cards, you’ll likely be familiar with the setup process if you’ve ever had any other credit card.

Once you’ve applied for and been approved for a private label credit card — assuming you met the credit card requirements — you’ll typically go through the process of setting up your card. You’ll want to make sure to log in to your online account, review your statements, and set up payments.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

Benefits of Private Label Credit Cards

Wondering why are private label credit cards popular? Here are some of the upsides of these types of credit cards:

•   Easier to qualify for: Private label credit cards are often thought of as being easier to get approved for than general purpose credit cards. So if you don’t have an excellent credit history, you may consider a private label credit card as a way to help build your credit.

•   Earn rewards and other benefits: Another benefit of private label credit cards is that stores often use them to build loyalty with their best customers. This might include offering rewards, loyalty points, or even nixing the credit card annual fee some cards have.

Drawbacks of Private Label Credit Cards

Even if the pros of private label credit cards may seem enticing, it’s also important to account for the downsides. These include:

•   Lack of flexibility in use: The biggest drawback of a private label credit card is that it typically can only be used at one specific store or merchant. The lack of flexibility means that it is difficult for a private label credit card to be your only or main credit card.

•   Potentially higher APRs: Another potential drawback is that many private label cards have annual percentage rates, or APRs. Make sure you read the terms and conditions before signing up for a private label credit card to ensure you know the consequences of carrying a balance. Otherwise, you could end paying exorbitant interest — which is how credit card companies make money.

Recommended: How to Avoid Interest On a Credit Card

Private Label vs General Purpose Credit Cards

As you can see, slightly different credit card rules apply to private label credit cards. Here are the major differences to keep in mind when comparing a private label card to a general purpose credit card:

Private Label Credit Cards

General Purpose Credit Cards

Can usually only be used at one store or merchant Can be used anywhere the issuer (e.g. Visa, Mastercard, etc.) is accepted
Only offers store-specific rewards or perks May offer cash back or travel rewards on every purchase
Generally are easier to get approved for than traditional credit cards Often more difficult to get approved for than private label cards

Private Label vs Co-Branded Credit Cards

Some merchants offer a co-branded credit card that offers specific perks for their particular store but is issued by a major credit card processor (i.e., Visa or Mastercard). This means that you can also use the co-branded credit card at other merchants. As one example, Old Navy and Barclays offer the Navyist Rewards Mastercard, which offers Old Navy perks but can also be used anywhere that Mastercard is accepted.

Here’s a breakdown of the key differences to keep in mind to distinguish between private label credit cards and co-branded credit cards:

Private Label Credit Cards

Co-Branded Credit Cards

Can usually only be used at one store or merchant Can be used anywhere the issuer (e.g. Visa, Mastercard) is accepted
Only offers store-specific rewards or perks Also offers store-specific rewards or perks but can also offer rewards on purchases at other merchants
Generally are easier to be approved for than traditional credit cards Often more difficult to be approved for than private label cards

Alternatives to Private Label Credit Cards

Two alternatives to private label credit cards are general purpose credit cards and co-branded credit cards. Here’s what you need to know about each of those other options as you’re deciding which type of card is right for you:

•   General purpose credit cards are what you probably think of when you think of a credit card. These cards can be used anywhere that processing network, such as Visa or Mastercard, is accepted.

•   Co-branded credit cards are cards that share branding between a bank or credit card issuer and another merchant or company. Examples include airline or hotel credit cards or the credit cards of some retail stores. With a co-branded credit card, you can also use the card anywhere the processing network is accepted, and you’ll often earn brand-specific perks on every purchase.

Recommended: What is a Charge Card

The Takeaway

A private label credit card is a type of credit card that can typically only be used at one particular store or merchant. Many merchants use private label cards as a way to incentivize and reward their most loyal shoppers. It can also motivate shoppers to spend more, since they have the convenience of a credit card and can defer payments to a later date.

While it may sometimes be easier to get approved for private label credit cards, if your credit and income support it, you may be better off with a cash-back rewards credit card like the SoFi Credit Card. With the SoFi credit card, you can earn unlimited cash-back rewards, which you can use to invest in fractional shares, apply as a statement credit, or other financial goals you might have, like paying down eligible SoFi debt. Learn more and apply for a credit card today with SoFi.

Apply for a SoFi Credit Card!

FAQ

How can I get a private label credit card?

The easiest way to get a private label credit card is to apply on the website or in the store of the merchant that offers the card. If you meet the credit card requirements, you will be approved for the card. Then you can start using it while shopping at this particular merchant.

How do private label credit cards make money?

Private label credit cards make money in much the same way that any other credit card companies make money. They make money from the fees associated with the card (late fees, possible annual fees, etc) and interest paid by cardholders who carry a balance. Additionally, they may rake in money from “swipe fees” paid by the merchant each time the card is used.

Who do you make payments to when using a private label credit card?

While a private label credit card often has the logo of a particular merchant or store, the day-to-day processing is handled by a bank or other financial services company. You’ll make your payments directly to the processing company, usually not to the store itself. One of the credit card rules for successfully managing your credit is to pay your bill in full, each and every month, so make sure you understand who and when you need to pay.


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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
The SoFi Credit Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri (TBOM) (“Issuer”) pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.
1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.
Members earn 2 rewards points for every dollar spent on eligible purchases. If you elect to redeem points for cash deposited into your SoFi Checking or Savings account, SoFi Money® account, fractional shares or cryptocurrency in your SoFi Active Invest account, or as a payment to your SoFi Personal, Private Student, or Student Loan Refinance, your points will redeem at a rate of 1 cent per every point. If you elect to redeem points as a statement credit to your SoFi Credit Card account, your points will redeem at a rate of 0.5 cents per every point. For more details please visit the Rewards page. Brokerage and Active investing products offered through SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA/SIPC. SoFi Securities LLC is an affiliate of SoFi Bank, N.A.
SoFi cardholders earn 2% unlimited cash back rewards when redeemed to save, invest, or pay down eligible SoFi debt. Cardholders earn 1% cash back rewards when redeemed for a statement credit.1
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What to Do When a Family Member Uses Your Credit Card Unauthorized

What to Do When a Family Member Uses Your Credit Card Unauthorized

One of the main advantages of using a credit card for purchases is that, in most cases, you’re not liable for fraudulent charges. If your card is lost or stolen, usually all it takes is a quick chat with your credit card issuer to resolve the issue. Where this gets a bit murkier is when it’s a family member or friend who uses your credit card without your permission.

While you’re still not liable, the process of dealing with unauthorized credit card charges by family members or friends can get more complicated. Your credit card issuer may want you to file a police report and even take legal action against the person who made the charges. You’ll have to decide whether it’s worth potentially damaging your relationship with your family member or friend.

Authorized vs Unauthorized Credit Card Charges

While you are legally responsible for paying back any authorized credit card charges, in most cases, you will not need to cover any unauthorized credit card charges.

Most credit cards come with a 0% liability guarantee, meaning that you’re not liable for any unauthorized or fraudulent charges that were made with your credit card or account information. This can help protect you against credit card scams and other fraudulent activity, as well as charges made to your card without your permission.

Cash in on up to $300–and 3% cash back for 365 days.¹

Apply and get approved for the SoFi Credit Card. Then open a bank account with qualifying direct deposits. Some things are just better together.


Recommended: Does Applying For a Credit Card Hurt Your Credit Score

Legal Protection Against Unauthorized Use of Credit Cards

There are two main federal laws that help to protect you against unauthorized use of your credit card or account information:

•   Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA): This law limits your liability for unauthorized credit card charges to $50, though many card issuers lower your liability to $0 for all unauthorized charges.

•   Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA): Sometimes referred to as Reg E, this law limits liability for ATM transactions or debit card charges, among other types of transactions, if it’s reported within 60 days.

Recommended: What is a Charge Card

Tips for Handling Accidental Possession of Credit Cards

One of the best things you can do to help avoid unauthorized use of your credit card by a third party is to keep it in your possession. Make sure you know where your credit cards are at all times, especially if you have teens or other adults living in your home.

It’s also a great idea to regularly monitor your bank and credit card accounts. That way, you can spot any unauthorized charges quickly.

Tips for Handling Unauthorized Credit Card Charges

If unauthorized charges were made to your credit card, here are some tips for how to handle the situation.

Contact Your Credit Card Issuer

The first thing you’ll want to do if you spot an unauthorized credit card charge on your account is to contact your credit card issuer. You can do this by calling the number printed on the back of your credit card or contacting your issuer through your online account.

Request a Refund

As the refund process may vary slightly by issuer, the customer service representative you talk with can help you figure out how to request one. A refund is also sometimes referred to as a credit card chargeback. In many cases, the bank will provisionally credit your account within 24-48 hours while they investigate the fraudulent charges.

File a Police Report

In some cases, your bank or credit card company may request you to fill out a police report. In other cases, the card issuer may file a police report themselves. This can make the situation complicated if it’s a friend or family member who made the unauthorized charges.

Disputing Credit Card Charges

Disputing credit card charges is another term for reporting unauthorized or fraudulent activity on your account. When you dispute a credit card charge, you’re letting the card issuer know that you believe you should not be responsible for paying that particular charge. It’s important to dispute any fraudulent charges as soon as possible.

Recommended: Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly

Reporting Unauthorized Credit Card Use

It’s good financial practice to regularly review your bank and credit card accounts for a number of reasons. One reason is to report any unauthorized credit card use as soon as you see it. The best way of handling fraudulent charges is to report them immediately and then let your bank or credit card company investigate them.

Recommended: How to Avoid Interest On a Credit Card

Tips for Avoiding Credit Card Fraud and Unauthorized Use

There are two things that you’ll want to do to avoid unauthorized use on your credit card:

•   First, make sure that you keep track of your cards and don’t leave them where someone else might use them.

•   Second, regularly monitor your bank and credit card accounts. That way, you can report any unauthorized use to avoid being liable for any credit card purchase interest charges that may accrue otherwise.

Recommended: Can You Buy Crypto With a Credit Card

The Takeaway

Federal law limits consumer’s liability for fraudulent or unauthorized charges, and most credit cards have a $0 fraud liability policy. So if you do have any unauthorized or fraudulent charges, make sure to report them to your credit card issuer right away.

Where it can get complicated is if it’s a friend or family member who made the unauthorized charge. In the case of unauthorized use of a credit card by a family member or friend, you’ll need to decide whether to try and get the money back directly from that individual or report the charge to your card issuer, which may mean filing a police report.

The SoFi credit card is one credit card option that comes with $0 fraud liability. With the SoFi credit card, you also can earn unlimited cash-back rewards, which you can use to invest in fractional shares, apply as a statement credit, or other financial goals you might have, like paying down eligible SoFi debt. Learn more and apply for a SoFi credit card today.

Apply for a SoFi credit card!

FAQ

Who is liable for unauthorized credit card charges?

Federal law limits a consumer’s liability for unauthorized credit card charges and credit card fees stemming from unauthorized use. If you see a charge on your credit card account that you don’t recognize, make sure to report it to your card issuer as soon as possible.

How do credit cards investigate unauthorized charges?

Credit card companies have a variety of different ways that they investigate unauthorized charges. They may contact the merchant, review video from the purchase, or check online activity. In some cases, they may work with local law enforcement and/or pursue criminal charges.

Should you report a family member for unauthorized credit card use?

Whether or not you report a family member for unauthorized credit card use depends on the situation. Keep in mind that reporting a family member for unauthorized credit card use may lead to the card issuer pressing charges against them for fraud. So, depending on your relationship, you may not want to report your family member to the card issuer and instead try to get the money back directly from them.


Photo credit: iStock/Erdark
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
The SoFi Credit Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri (TBOM) (“Issuer”) pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.
1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.
Members earn 2 rewards points for every dollar spent on eligible purchases. If you elect to redeem points for cash deposited into your SoFi Checking or Savings account, SoFi Money® account, fractional shares or cryptocurrency in your SoFi Active Invest account, or as a payment to your SoFi Personal, Private Student, or Student Loan Refinance, your points will redeem at a rate of 1 cent per every point. If you elect to redeem points as a statement credit to your SoFi Credit Card account, your points will redeem at a rate of 0.5 cents per every point. For more details please visit the Rewards page. Brokerage and Active investing products offered through SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA/SIPC. SoFi Securities LLC is an affiliate of SoFi Bank, N.A.
SoFi cardholders earn 2% unlimited cash back rewards when redeemed to save, invest, or pay down eligible SoFi debt. Cardholders earn 1% cash back rewards when redeemed for a statement credit.1
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What to Do With an Old or Expired Credit Card

What to Do With an Old or Expired Credit Card

Most credit cards come with an expiration date printed on the face of the card alongside the credit card account numbers. If you keep your account open, you’ll usually get a new card in the mail before your previous card expires. Still, that leaves the question of what to do with old credit cards.

Once you get your new credit card, or if you’ve decided to close your account, you’ll want to be careful about what to do with your expired credit card. There are a few things to keep in mind to make sure you keep your financial information safe.

Things to Do With an Old or Expired Credit Card

If you have a credit card that’s closed or has passed its credit card expiration date, here are some options to consider as you decide what to do with the card.

Cash in on up to $300–and 3% cash back for 365 days.¹

Apply and get approved for the SoFi Credit Card. Then open a bank account with qualifying direct deposits. Some things are just better together.


Recommended: Does Applying For a Credit Card Hurt Your Credit Score

Shredding Your Credit Cards

The simplest thing you can do after closing a credit card is to shred it. Most modern shredders have the ability to shred plastic credit cards in addition to paper. If you don’t have a shredder, you can cut your card into multiple pieces with scissors.

You might consider putting each piece of your card in a different trash can or trash bag. This will minimize the chance that someone might be able to reconstruct your full account number.

Disposing of Metal Credit Cards

It gets a little more complicated if you’re disposing of a metal credit card. Most retail shredders will not be able to handle shredding a metal credit card. If you have an expired metal credit card, you can try the following:

•   Cutting it up with tin snips

•   Turning it in at a physical bank branch

•   Sending it back via certified mail to your credit card issuer

Contacting Expired Credit Card Hobbyists

Believe it or not, there are people that collect old credit cards as a hobby. They do it as part of the history of credit cards. While you might not feel comfortable having your credit card and account information in the hands of someone else, if you do, there may be someone who would want to have it.

Just keep in mind that while there are some old or historical cards that have actual value as collectibles, most current credit cards won’t be worth anything to a collector.

Deactivating Magnetic Strips and Chips

As part of the process of destroying a credit card that’s past its credit card expiration date, it’s not just the account number that you’ll need to take care of. Most credit cards have either a magnetic strip or an EMV chip (or both) that contain account information that you’ll need to make sure is destroyed.

If you have a contactless credit card, remember that it also contains potentially sensitive information.

Keeping Your Card Out Of The Recycling Bin

Above all else, don’t just throw your card in the recycling bin. While most credit cards are plastic, that doesn’t mean they can be recycled as-is. Check with your local trash or recycling authority to see if credit cards can be recycled. Even if your card can be recycled, it’s not a great idea to toss it in the recycling bin whole due to security risks.

Recommended: Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly

Things to Do Before You Close Your Credit Card Account

It can be difficult to know when to cancel a credit card due to the implications it can have for your credit score. Especially if the account you’re thinking about closing is one of your older ones, it can impact the length of your credit history. As this is a factor that goes into determining your credit score, it could cause your score to drop.

So before closing your credit card account, consider the following options first.

Downgrade Your Card

Instead of closing your credit card account, you might consider downgrading your account to a different type of credit card. Most credit card issuers have a variety of different cards, so you might find one that’s a better fit for you. Plus, keeping your account open can help maintain your average age of accounts.

Recommended: How to Avoid Interest On a Credit Card

Upgrade to an Unsecured Card

If you currently have a secured credit card, you can move from a secured card to an unsecured credit card rather than simply closing out your account.

A secured credit card can make sense if you have a limited credit history or are working on rebuilding your credit history. But once you have an established history of adhering to credit card rules like making on-time payments, you may be able to qualify for an unsecured card.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

Keep Your Card for Small Purchases

It may make sense for you to keep your credit card and use it to make small purchases here and there, especially if it doesn’t have an annual fee. Keeping a credit card open can help you maintain your average age of accounts, especially if the card is one of your older ones.

Just keep in mind that if you do decide to keep it open, you may want to make occasional small purchases on it. Otherwise, your credit card issuer may close it for inactivity.

Recommended: Can You Buy Crypto With a Credit Card

The Takeaway

If you have an old or expired credit card, it’s important to take the necessary steps to keep your financial information safe. In most cases, it’s a good idea to shred your expired card so that nobody can access your information. You might also just keep your credit card account open to avoid lowering your average age of credit accounts.

If you’re in the market for a new card, you might consider a cash-back rewards credit card like SoFi’s credit card. If you get a credit card with SoFi, you can earn unlimited cash-back rewards, which you can use to invest in fractional shares, apply as a statement credit, or meet other financial goals you might have, like paying down eligible SoFi debt.

Apply for a SoFi credit card today!

FAQ

Can an expired credit card be charged?

In most cases, if you try to make a purchase after your credit card’s expiration date, it will be declined. Keep in mind, though, that merchants may continue to charge a card after its expiration date if you have it set up for recurring charges. Check with any merchants where you have recurring charges to see how this might affect you.

Can I cancel a credit card online?

Yes, in most cases you do have the ability to cancel a credit card online. You could do so through your online account or possibly by using a chat feature on the card issuer’s website. If you’re not able to cancel your credit card online, you may have to call the customer service number on the back of your card to cancel your card.

What should I do before canceling a credit card?

Knowing when to cancel a credit card is a matter of balancing a variety of different factors. Before canceling a credit card, make sure that it won’t drastically affect your credit score. You’ll also want to contact any merchants where you have recurring charges to update your account information. That will ensure that you don’t have any interruption in service.


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1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s
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The SoFi Credit Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri (TBOM) (“Issuer”) pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.
Members earn 2 rewards points for every dollar spent on eligible purchases. If you elect to redeem points for cash deposited into your SoFi Checking or Savings account, SoFi Money® account, fractional shares or cryptocurrency in your SoFi Active Invest account, or as a payment to your SoFi Personal, Private Student, or Student Loan Refinance, your points will redeem at a rate of 1 cent per every point. If you elect to redeem points as a statement credit to your SoFi Credit Card account, your points will redeem at a rate of 0.5 cents per every point. For more details please visit the Rewards page. Brokerage and Active investing products offered through SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA/SIPC. SoFi Securities LLC is an affiliate of SoFi Bank, N.A.
SoFi cardholders earn 2% unlimited cash back rewards when redeemed to save, invest, or pay down eligible SoFi debt. Cardholders earn 1% cash back rewards when redeemed for a statement credit.1
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Guide to Instant Approval Credit Cards

Instant Approval Credit Cards: How They Work

When you apply for a credit card, there are a few things that can happen. You may be instantly denied, or you may receive a notice that the card issuer needs more time to evaluate your application. Another possibility is that you’re instantly approved for the credit card.

When you receive an instant approval for a credit card, you can rest easy knowing that you’ll get the credit card and any applicable welcome bonus. In some cases, credit card issuers will allow you to have instant access to your credit card number. That can be useful if you want to make an immediate and time-sensitive purchase.

What Is an Instant Approval Credit Card?

An instant approval credit card is a credit card that guarantees a decision about your application within a matter of minutes. Once you submit your application, the credit card issuer will instantly let you know if you’ve been approved or denied for the card.

Not all credit card issuers do instant approvals, and it’s possible to not receive an instant approval even if you have excellent credit and income. For some issuers and certain credit cards, when you’re instantly approved, you also receive your credit card number and everything else you need to make a purchase with the card right away.

Cash in on up to $300–and 3% cash back for 365 days.¹

Apply and get approved for the SoFi Credit Card. Then open a bank account with qualifying direct deposits. Some things are just better together.


How Instant Approval Credit Cards Work

When you apply for a new credit card, the card issuer will conduct a hard pull of your credit report and review your credit history, income, and other financial information. They will use this information to decide whether or not to approve you for a card.

If they have enough information on your credit report to approve you automatically, you may be instantly approved. In other cases, a credit analyst may need to review your application before making a decision. This will impact how long it takes to get a credit card.

Recommended: Does Applying For a Credit Card Hurt Your Credit Score

Instant Approval vs Pre-qualified Offers

Many credit card issuers also allow you to pre-qualify for a credit card. When a lender pre-qualifies you for a credit card, they usually take your basic information and do a soft pull on your credit report, as opposed to the hard inquiry done for formal approval of your application. This soft pull allows them to see a limited amount of information about you, which may be enough for them to pre-qualify you.

Being pre-qualified does not mean that you’ll necessarily be approved when you fill out the complete application. In contrast, when you receive an instant approval, that means that you’ve actually been approved for the card.

Recommended: What is the Average Credit Card Limit

Pros and Cons of Instant Approval Credit Cards

Fast credit cards approval has some obvious upsides, but there are also some possible downsides to take into consideration as well:

Pros

Cons

You know right away when you are approved You may not be instantly approved, even with good credit and income
You may be able to access your card information instantly Instant access to your credit card number may tempt you to spend more

When to Consider an Instant Approval Credit Card

The only time it may be worth it to go out of your way to go for an instant approval card is if you have a large purchase that you need to make within the next day or two. In that case, being able to secure a big signup bonus on a new card or get a card with an introductory 0% APR offer may be worthwhile, given how credit cards work.

When possible, however, it’s better to manage your credit cards and credit card applications so that you don’t have to depend on instant credit card approval.

When to Skip an Instant Approval Credit Card

In most non-emergency cases, it doesn’t make sense to go out of your way to find an instant approval credit card. Instead, review the different credit cards that are out there and find the best card for you — regardless of whether you might be instantly approved.

Choosing a credit card that’s right for you might earn you hundreds of dollars or more in rewards. In the end, it may be worth more than getting the card information a few days earlier.

Recommended: Can You Buy Crypto With a Credit Card

Choosing an Instant Approval Credit Card

It’s not always possible to determine whether any particular card will give you instant approval. Some card issuers (including American Express) publicly state that they offer instant credit card numbers to eligible cardholders.

That being said, receiving instant approval (and an instant credit card number) is contingent on the information on your credit report and the credit card requirements of the card issuer itself. In other words, instant credit card approval and use is not something that can be guaranteed.

Increasing Your Chances of Approval

While there isn’t always a guarantee of getting instant credit card approval, there are a few things you can do to help increase your chances of getting approved immediately.

Provide Information About Your Income

Most credit card applications ask about your total household income. Providing accurate income information can help the credit card issuer understand your financial situation and possibly approve you instantly.

Remember, one of the key credit card rules is that you should be truthful. If an issuer finds out that you were dishonest on your application, they may close your account.

Recommended: How to Avoid Interest On a Credit Card

Check Your Credit Reports

Another great idea if you’re hoping to secure instant approval on a credit card is to check your credit report. Keep your eye out for any incorrect or inconsistent information. If there’s incorrect negative information on your credit report, it may prevent you from being instantly approved for a credit card.

In general, it’s a wise financial move to regularly review the information on your credit report at least on a yearly basis.

Apply for the Right Instant Approval Credit Card

You’ll also want to be realistic about your approval odds for the credit card you’re looking at. If your credit isn’t that great, you might not want to try applying for an instant approval credit card that requires excellent credit (meaning a score of 800+). It’s more important to try to apply for a card that you’re likely to get approved for than one that might offer instant approval.

Alternatives to Instant Approval Credit Cards

One alternative to an instant approval credit card is to just apply for the best credit card for you, regardless of whether you might be instantly approved. You might also look at virtual credit cards, where you can get a temporary, randomly generated credit card number that’s linked back to your actual credit card account.

If you are in need of fast funding, there are other options to explore there, too. Some online lenders offer funding the same day you apply and get approved for a loan. You might also consider tapping into your emergency fund, which you then can replenish once you’ve addressed your need for fast cash.

The Takeaway

When you apply for a credit card, it’s possible the credit card issuer may instantly approve you. In other cases, they may need more time to decide whether or not to approve your application. If you are instantly approved, you may also be able to have immediate access to your card number and other credit card details. Instant approval credit cards with instant use can be useful if you have an immediate need to make a large purchase and want to do it on a new credit card.

But in most cases, it’s more important to apply for the credit card that’s the right fit for you, instead of focusing on finding an instant approval credit card. One option might be a cash-back rewards credit card like the SoFi credit card. With the SoFi credit card, you can earn unlimited cash-back rewards, which you can use to invest in fractional shares, apply as a statement credit, or meet other financial goals you might have, like paying down eligible SoFi debt. Learn more and apply for a credit card today with SoFi.

Apply for a SoFi credit card!

FAQ

What credit score do I need for an instant approval credit card?

There isn’t a single credit score you’ll need to be approved for an instant approval credit card. Instead, each credit card has its own criteria for approval. When choosing a credit card, it’s important to select a credit card that matches your credit profile. If you have fair or worse credit, you shouldn’t apply for a credit card that requires excellent credit — you’ll likely be denied.

What is the difference between instant approval and instant use of credit cards?

When you apply for a credit card, you may be instantly approved if the card issuer has enough information to make an automatic decision. If you’re instantly approved, some issuers allow you to have instant access to your credit card number and account.

Does an instant approval credit card guarantee you’ll be approved?

There’s no guarantee you’ll get approved when you apply for a credit card, and the same goes for instant approval credit cards. Whether you’re approved will depend on your financial specifics and the credit card requirements. Even if you’re pre-qualified or pre-approved, that does not guarantee that you’ll be approved when you go through the formal application process.

What if my application for an instant approval credit card gets declined?

If your instant approval credit card application is denied, you may still eventually be approved for the card. It may just mean that the issuer needs additional information or more time to determine if they can extend credit to you.


Photo credit: iStock/PeopleImages

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
The SoFi Credit Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri (TBOM) (“Issuer”) pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.
1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.
Members earn 2 rewards points for every dollar spent on eligible purchases. If you elect to redeem points for cash deposited into your SoFi Checking or Savings account, SoFi Money® account, fractional shares or cryptocurrency in your SoFi Active Invest account, or as a payment to your SoFi Personal, Private Student, or Student Loan Refinance, your points will redeem at a rate of 1 cent per every point. If you elect to redeem points as a statement credit to your SoFi Credit Card account, your points will redeem at a rate of 0.5 cents per every point. For more details please visit the Rewards page. Brokerage and Active investing products offered through SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA/SIPC. SoFi Securities LLC is an affiliate of SoFi Bank, N.A.
Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
SoFi cardholders earn 2% unlimited cash back rewards when redeemed to save, invest, or pay down eligible SoFi debt. Cardholders earn 1% cash back rewards when redeemed for a statement credit.1
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