If you’re applying for a new credit card, you typically won’t be able to start using it immediately upon approval. And depending on your application and the issuer, you may not even get approved right away.
But if you’re planning to make a big purchase or you want to score a big sign-up bonus for an upcoming vacation, you’ll want to know how long you can expect to wait before you get your card and if there’s anything you can do to speed up the process.
Let’s take a look.
How long does it usually take to get approved for a credit card?
“Issuers who have automated the process can provide you an answer to your application almost instantaneously,” says Aaron Aggerwal, assistant vice president of credit card products at Navy Federal Credit Union.
For smaller banks and credit unions, however, Aggerwal notes that the process can take anywhere between five and 10 days at most. Keep in mind that there’s no guarantee that you’ll get a “yes” or “no” immediately.
“If your application has flags, such as fraud incidents or if your credit score needs a closer look,” says Aggerwal, “it could go to pending and will likely need to be reviewed manually.”
If this happens, it could take anywhere between 10 and 30 days to find out what’s going on. One way around this is to call the credit card issuer directly through their application status line.
In many cases, you can speak with a credit analyst who can either give you a decision over the phone or let you know what the issuer needs to complete your application.
How long does it take to get a credit card?
“Once you’ve been approved, it could take anywhere from seven to ten business days to receive your new credit card,” says Aggerwal. “If you have an urgent need, some issuers offer the option for express delivery.”
To help you get a better idea of what to expect, we’ve put together a list of the seven top credit card issuers and how long you’ll have to wait to before getting your new credit card from them.
We also checked for replacement card shipping times in case you lose yours or it gets stolen.
For some cards, American Express offers to give you a temporary account number when you get approved if you apply online. This makes it possible for you to use the card for online purchases immediately. American Express will expedite replacement cards if you ask.
Bank of America doesn’t expedite new cards, so you’ll have to wait for seven to 10 business days to get your card in the mail. You can, however, request rush delivery on replacement cards and get your card in just a few days.
You can get overnight delivery, but the issuer will charge you a fee for the convenience of up to $30. If you don’t opt for overnight delivery, expect to wait as long as two to three weeks to get your card.
Barclaycard will expedite a replacement card if it finds fraud on your account. Otherwise, you’ll have to pay the overnight delivery fee to get it sooner than seven to 10 business days.
4) Capital One
Capital One doesn’t expedite new cards. Instead, you’ll get your card within seven to 10 business days. It does offer rush delivery on replacement cards, but you have to pay a $16 fee to get it. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait four to six business days.
The issuer will expedite your new card if you ask unless extra verification is required. They’re not clear on what this means, though, so you might not have much control over it. If you can’t get your card expedited, you’ll receive it within seven to 10 business days. Chase will expedite replacement cards upon request.
Citi doesn’t offer rush delivery, but its regular shipping method is slightly faster than most of the major issuers. You’ll get new cards in five to seven business days. The issuer may expedite a replacement card if you ask.
Discover breaks with other major credit card issuers by sending all its new cards via priority mail, so you’ll get it in three to five days. The issuer also always expedites replacement cards, and you can expect to get yours within 24 to 48 hours.
Keep in mind that these are all guidelines and there may be situations where you can get an exception. So, if you’re in a bind, it never hurts to call the issuer directly and ask. Feel free to explain your situation to solidify your case, and consider asking to speak with a supervisor if you need to. As is the case any time you call customer service, you’re more likely to get a positive result when you’re polite and respectful.
Which is the fastest credit card issuer?
Discover is the fastest major credit card issuer. It sends all cards in three to five days. Replacement credit cards arrive in one or two days.
Give yourself enough time
If you have a large purchase coming up and want to finance it with a 0% APR promotion, or you’re planning a vacation and want to earn a sign-up bonus to help you pay for it, start making a plan in advance.
Take a look at your timeline and consider how long it might take for you to get approved and get the card in the mail.
And if you need your card faster, consider getting one from a lender that offers faster shipping times so you’re not waiting by the mailbox for too long. Also, remember that “business days” always excludes holidays and weekends.
As you shop around for a credit card, keep all of these things in mind to make sure that you get the right card at the right time.
Ben Luthi is a personal finance writer and a credit cards expert who loves helping consumers and business owners make better financial decisions. His work has been featured in Time, MarketWatch, Yahoo! Finance, U.S. News & World Report, CNBC, Success Magazine, USA Today, The Huffington Post and many more.