How Long Does it Take to Get a Credit Card?

How Long Does it Take to Get a Credit Card?

Posted on February 1, 2012 by Jennifer in Credit Card News, Credit Card Tips

Let’s say you want a new credit card. Maybe there’s a specific purchase you’re interested in financing with a low interest card. You want to apply for the card with the intention of using it right away before a great sale expires. Well, credit cards don’t usually work that way.

Credit cards don’t generally give you instant spending power. So how long do you have to wait between applying for a new credit card and being able to actually use it?

Application Methods

When you receive your credit card can largely depend on what credit card application method you choose. For example, you could:

  • Apply online
  • Apply over the phone
  • Apply in-store (for store credit cards)
  • Apply by mailing in an application

In-store, online and phone applications sometimes offer instant approvals. If you opt to mail your application, you’ll have a longer processing time. No matter how you’re approved (assuming you are), you usually will have to wait for a physical card to be produced and mailed to you. That can take anywhere from a few days to well over a week depending on the credit card company.

Some applications will also take longer to review which can slow down the process. If you know you have problems in your credit report that an issuing bank will want to take a closer look at, don’t expect instant approval and a quick new credit card.

Instant Approval Can Mean Instant Credit Access

If you apply for a traditional credit card online, you might be approved instantly. But you would still have to wait for your actual credit card before you can use the account. Store credit cards can be an exception though.

Some retailers offer their own store credit cards. If you receive instant approval, they might issue a temporary card for you to use in the store that day (or on their website). For example, if you apply for a JC Penney credit card and you’re approved, you can be issued a temporary card in the store if you present photo ID. It lets you get your discount for using the card right away if you want to. For your physical card you have to wait 7 – 10 days.

Because of the mail delay involved in delivering most credit cards, you should plan your application in advance of when you think you’ll actually need the card. Don’t assume that instant approvals will always mean instant access to credit.