There's so much anticipation when you're filling out a credit card application. From the moment you start filling in the application all the way up to when you click the submit button, you probably have three big questions going through your mind: Will I be approved? How much will my credit limit be? How soon will I find out whether I'm approved?
The amount of time it takes to get the answers to these questions depends mostly on how you submit your credit card application.
You May Find Out You're Approved Right Away
If you're applying for a credit card online, over the phone, or in person (e.g. at a retail store) and you've given all the correct information, you can typically find out whether your credit card application is approved in 60 seconds or less.
When you make your credit card application online, make sure you use a secure web connection (not a public Wi-Fi) to prevent your details from being stolen.
Once you've submitted your online application, don't press the back button or the submit button more than once. Otherwise, there could be issues with processing your application.
Once your approval is confirmed, you'll also find out the credit limit you've been approved for, unless you've applied for a credit card with no preset spending limit. Then, in 7-10 business days, you'll receive your credit card in the mail. Just call the number on the front of your card or create an online account to activate your credit card and you're ready to start making purchases.
With some types of credit card accounts, you can use your credit card instantly. For example, if you're approved for a retail store credit card, you'll typically be able to use the account in the store and any sister stores the same day you're approved. Some major credit card issuers give you access to your new credit card account right away with a temporary credit card or through the bank's mobile app.
Why a Credit Decision Could Be Delayed
As long as you meet the credit card's qualifications and the credit card issuer can verify your information electronically, an application decision can be made quickly and electronically. However, you won't always get an instant decision regarding your application. Sometimes that means your application is denied, but that's not always the case. The credit card issuer may not be able to deliver an instant approval decision if your application needs further review or you provided incorrect or incomplete information.
Make sure to use a street address not a post office box number on your credit card application.
If you don't get an instant decision for your application, wait a few days (7-10 days typically) and you'll receive an email, letter, or phone call from the credit card issuer. The credit card issuer will either request additional information to complete your application or let you know that your application wasn't approved.
If your application is denied, the credit card issuer is required to send you a letter telling you why.
Mailed applications can take longer to process. When you mail your credit card application, you may not find out whether you're approved for two to three weeks. You have to wait for the card issuer to receive and process your application and then mail you a response.
If it's been several days since you made your credit card application and you haven't heard anything about your approval, call the credit card issuer to request the status of your application. You can find the card issuer's best contact number on their website.
Improve Your Chances of Getting Approved
You're more likely to be approved when you apply for a credit card you're qualified for. For example, if you do not have much credit or you have bad credit, you probably won't be approved for a premium rewards credit card. Some credit card issuer websites tell which credit cards are for excellent, average, or bad credit. Stick to the credit cards that most fit with your credit profile for the best chances at being approved.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How long after approval can I start using my credit card?
You may be able to start using your credit card immediately upon approval. Once the card is authorized and the account is active, then you can start using it online. To use it in person, you'll have to wait for the card to come in the mail, and that takes about a week or two after approval.
What is a preapproval?
Some credit card issuers have preset qualifications for who gets approved. If you meet these qualifications, such as a minimum credit score, then you are preapproved, and you know you'll be able to get the card.
What credit score do you need to get approved for a credit card?
There isn't a minimum credit score to get approved for a credit card, but if your score is around 600 or lower, you may not get favorable terms. People with low credit scores pay higher interest rates and have lower lines of credit. If your credit score is particularly bad, you may need to get a secured credit card, but there isn't a set credit score that determines whether you will need a secured card or not.