How Long Does It Take to Get a Credit Card?

By Ashley Kilroy · March 15, 2024 · 7 minute read

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How Long Does It Take to Get a Credit Card?

It can take between mere minutes and 30 days to be approved for a credit card, and then up to two weeks for it to arrive in the mail. If you want to shorten the timeline and get access to credit ASAP, there are moves that can help you out.

Read on for tips on expediting the process and best practices for using your new card once you get it.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Credit Card Approval?

Usually, many creditors have an instant approval process if you apply for a credit card online. If you meet the issuer’s approval criteria, you may qualify right away. However, if your requirements are on the borderline, the creditor may have someone review your application by hand, which can take a week or so to complete. This is also the case if you submit your application over the phone or through the mail.

Additionally, even if you meet the requirements, approval could take longer due to security protections. If your credit is frozen, for example, a creditor won’t be able to gather all of your credit information. Therefore, you’ll have to remove the freeze before moving forward with the approval process.

Recommended: Why Credit Cards Get Declined: Reasons and Solutions

How Long Does It Take to Receive Your Card?

Once approved, it can take anywhere between five business days and two calendar weeks to receive your credit card in the mail. Some creditors may allow you to speed up the process free of charge. Others may charge a fee to do so.

If your card is lost or stolen en route or once it arrives, it may take anywhere from three to 14 business days for a new one to get sent out. Like with a new credit card, your creditor might be willing to expedite the process for free or if you pay a service fee.

Meanwhile, what if you’re in the situation of having a credit card that’s nearing its credit card expiration date? You can expect to get a replacement card anywhere from one to two months before it expires. If you haven’t received a new card and your card is about to expire, you should contact your credit issuer.

Recommended: How to Get a Credit Card for the First Time

Getting Your Credit Card Faster

If you’re not satisfied with the standard timeframe for how long it takes for a credit card to arrive, there are ways you can expedite the process.


Creditors often send preapproved credit card offers to consumers who meet their approval criteria. If you don’t receive a preapproval offer in the mail, you also can typically apply online through the creditor’s website. You’ll need to answer a few questions and provide some personal information, and then the creditor will offer preapproval if you qualify.

Credit card companies run soft credit inquiries to determine your qualification status, which will not impact your credit. Preapproval isn’t the final approval, but it still can indicate that you have a good chance of getting approved.

If you choose to move forward after preapproval, you must submit a formal application. At this point, the credit card company will do a hard inquiry, which can temporarily impact your credit.

Instant Approval

Similar to a preapproval, credit card issuers offer instant approvals. With an instance approval, the creditor will run a preliminary check on your credit to see if you meet their approval requirements. If you have a higher credit score, it’s more likely you will qualify instantly.

Credit card companies usually look at your creditworthiness (your history of on-time payments, credit cards usage, etc.), your income, and whether you’re old enough to get a credit card. You’ll be instantly approved for a card if you meet the approval requirements.

Expedited Shipping

Another solution if you’re wondering how fast you can get a credit card is to request expedited shipping. While some companies offer expedited shipping free of charge, others may charge a fee to get your card faster. Again, check with the credit card company to make sure you understand their rules and guidelines around expedited shipping.

Applying for an Instant Use Card

Some credit card companies and retailers offer instant use credit cards. This means that you may apply and be able to use your credit card immediately after approval. You don’t need the credit card in hand to do so.

For example, if you apply for a retail credit card in the store, they may let you use it right there and then. Or, if you apply for an Apple card, you can typically add it to a digital wallet like Google Pay or Apple Wallet for instant use.

You can usually use instant credit cards for your online shopping transactions. However, some co-branded cards may have restrictions on where you can make purchases. Otherwise, these cards are similar to what a credit card is typically.

What to Do If the Card Does Not Arrive Within the Expected Timeframe

If you never received your credit card, call your credit card company right away. You may be able to go to a bank branch to resolve the issue if you applied for a credit card through your local bank.

Credit card companies may allow you to request a temporary credit card until your permanent credit card arrives.

Using Your New Credit Card

Now that you have your new credit card in hand, it’s smart to make sure you know the best practices for using it and fully understand how credit cards work. While using it irresponsibly could impact your credit score and overall financial situation, responsible credit use can help you boost your credit score and leverage perks.

Here are some tips for getting the most out of your credit card:

•   Make timely payments. Your payment history is one factor that credit bureaus use to determine your credit score. Making late payments may ding your credit and cost you a late payment fee. Setting up automatic payments is one of the easiest ways to ensure you make timely monthly payments and avoid penalties.

•   Keep your balance low. Another factor that credit bureaus use to calculate your credit score is your credit utilization ratio. This is the percentage of your credit available you’re using at any given time. Aim to keep your credit utilization ratio below 30% (ideally at or under 10%) to avoid any impacts to your credit score.

•   Pay more than the minimum monthly payment. Only making the minimum monthly payment on your credit card may cause you to carry a balance into the next month, in which case you’ll incur interest. If you continue this cycle, it can make it hard to repay your total outstanding balance due to interest adding up. This is why it’s important to pay off your balance in full when you can.

•   Only use your card when it’s within your budget. Using your credit card for purchases like gas and groceries can help you build credit (as long as you can pay it off). However, using it for large items or impulse buys may lead you to rack up a lot of debt, which could be hard to dig out of. When using your card, make sure it’s within your budget to pay off your purchases.

The Takeaway

Getting a credit card can be a great way to build credit and earn rewards on purchases. Approval can take minutes or up to 30 days, and it can take anywhere from five to 14 days to receive your card. If you need to make a large purchase immediately, you may be able to request expedited shipping when you’re approved for a credit card, so you receive it sooner. You might alternatively apply for an instant use credit card, which could enable you to make charges to the credit card right away.

Whether you're looking to build credit, apply for a new credit card, or save money with the cards you have, it's important to understand the options that are best for you. Learn more about credit cards by exploring this credit card guide.


How many days does it typically take to get a credit card?

The application and approval process can take minutes or up to a month: It can take anywhere from five business days to two calendar weeks to receive your card. If you apply through the mail or over the phone, it can take longer for your card to arrive.

Can I use my credit card before it arrives?

If you get approved for an instant use card, you can usually use it immediately. However, some restrictions may apply depending on the card you choose.

What is the earliest I can get a credit card?

Some companies offer expedited shipping, which can help you get your credit card within two business days. Keep in mind that you may have to pay a fee for expedited shipping depending on the card issuer.

Why was my credit card delayed?

If you’re on the borderline for meeting approval requirements, such as for income or credit score, it can take longer to receive a decision on your credit card application and thus to receive the card. It can also take longer to get your credit card if you mailed in your application as opposed to filling it out online.

Photo credit: iStock/everydayplus

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