The process of opening a new credit card can be exciting, especially if it’s your first. But sometimes, you need a new card urgently.
You may need the card by a certain deadline, to make an important purchase or meet the terms of a sign-up bonus. The length of time it takes to go through the whole process, from application to having a card in your hands, can factor into your choice of card. Or maybe your card was lost or involved in fraud and you need a replacement ASAP.
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If you've found yourself a victim of credit card fraud, you aren't alone. Credit card fraud losses worldwide were at $28.6 billion in 2020, according to a 2021 Nilson Report. The U.S. stood out as one of the most fraud-prone countries, accounts for 35% of total global card fraud in 2020, even though it accounted for only 22.40% of total card volume.
So how long does it take to get a credit card?
The short answer is: It usually takes seven to 21 business days, from the time you apply to the time you receive the card. Replacements typically arrive in three to seven business days.
Those are some pretty wide and unhelpful ranges of time.
To calculate a more precise time estimate, you’ll need to factor in all the variables that can speed up (or slow down) the process.
How long does it take to get approved for a credit card?
Two time periods determine how soon you can receive a credit card:
The time it takes to be approved for the card
The time it takes to ship the card after approval
The time it takes to be approved depends on your credit score, your credit history, the credit card you’re applying for, the card issuer and the method you use to apply.
That’s a lot of variables. Let’s start with your credit score, credit history and the credit card you’re applying for — these three go hand-in-hand.
As you probably know, some cards are harder to qualify for than others. When you apply for a new card, you’ll often see the credit score range needed to qualify.
If you have a strong credit history and exceed the card’s requirements, you’ll often be instantly approved by an automated system.
But if your credit history and financial situation don’t quite meet the requirements, your application will need to be reviewed manually. This slows the process.
Normally, a manual review will take seven to 10 business days, but it varies by issuer. Sometimes credit card applications can be pushed through more quickly by calling the issuer’s reconsideration line.
The bottom line is, to save time when applying for a new card, you should always make sure your credit score matches the card’s requirements.
The last factor that affects approval time is your application method. Naturally, online applications are much faster than snail mail applications. If you apply by mail, you can tack a few days on to the approval process.
How fast can you get a credit card after approval?
Once your application is approved, you’ll have to wait for your card to be created and shipped. This typically takes seven to 10 business days, but this varies by issuer.
One thing to keep in mind: If you need to meet a minimum spending requirement to receive a sign-up bonus, the clock starts ticking on your approval date — not the date you receive or activate the credit card. This means that if the rewards program states that you have three months to meet the spending requirement, once you factor in shipping time, you may have only two and a half months.
If you need the card sooner, you may be able to call your card issuer to ask for expedited shipping. While many credit card companies charge for this convenience, some may offer it free. It never hurts to ask!
To avoid complicating the process and potentially receiving duplicate cards, it’s best to make this phone call as soon as possible.
How quickly can I get a replacement credit card?
What if you already have an account and just need a replacement card?
In this case, the turnaround time is much quicker — typically three to seven business days, depending on the issuer.
Again, if you need a replacement card sooner than three business days, you may be able to expedite it for an extra fee.
As you can see, several variables determine the time it takes to receive a new credit card. In the worst-case scenario, you’re looking at 21 business days.
If you’re not keen to wait this long, you can speed up the process by:
Choosing a credit card you qualify for based on your credit history.
Improving your credit score to increase the odds of approval.
Applying online or in a bank branch instead of using snail mail.
Making sure all financial and personal information is correct on your application.
Calling the reconsideration line if you are not instantly approved (sometimes they just need more information or identity verification).
Asking for expedited shipping.
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This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.