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How To Activate Your American Express Credit Card (Online and by Telephone)

James Larounis's image
James Larounis
James Larounis's image

James Larounis

Senior Content Contributor

557 Published Articles 1 Edited Article

Countries Visited: 30U.S. States Visited: 35

James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury


36 Published Articles 3278 Edited Articles

Countries Visited: 47U.S. States Visited: 28

With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now editor-in-chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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Once your American Express credit or charge card arrives in the mail, you’ll need to activate it for use. The process is super simple and can be completed within just a few minutes, so let’s take a look at what you need to do so you can start spending.

How To Activate Your American Express Credit Card

When you get approved for an American Express charge or credit card, it will usually get shipped out to you within just a few days. More premium cards with a higher annual fee may get overnight shipped to you, while more generic cards with a lower or no annual fee may take a few days for production and then get shipped out using regular mail. Whichever option is chosen, your card should arrive within about a week.

In order to actually spend on the card, you need to acknowledge with American Express that you’ve received the card. This is commonly known as “activating” the card, and there are a few ways you can do so:

  • You can use the Amex app, which is downloadable from Google Play or the App Store. Once downloaded, you simply need to enter your card details and login ID to be verified.
  • You can use the Amex website. If you already have an account, you’ll be prompted to log in, and if you’re a first-time user you can create a new account.
  • You can call American Express customer service. On the back of your card, you’ll notice a customer service number you can call for assistance, and this same number can activate your card. In most circumstances, this is an automated process and you won’t have to wait for a live human.

Amex Activate Card
Image Credit: American Express

Tips for Activating Your Amex Card

  • If you need your card sooner, you can often request expedited shipping with American Express free of charge.
  • As soon as your card arrives in the mail, activate it. Not only will your card not be available for use until you do so, but there is no incentive to keep your card inactive. Even if you don’t plan on using the card, activate it and then you can “freeze” the card through the app or customer service.
  • Once your card is active, consider adding it to your mobile wallet, such as Apple Pay. This way you don’t need to have the card physically on you to make purchases.

Hot Tip: Many times, after you are approved for the card, you’ll be able to receive your card number prior to receiving a physical card. Amex allows this on select accounts and there isn’t a way to request this or be guaranteed this capability. If you’re able to receive your card number as soon as you’re approved, you can immediately start charging, which is a great way to work towards minimum spending requirements for welcome offers.

Final Thoughts

When your new American Express card arrives, don’t forget to activate it so that you can start using it. It’s a very seamless process and your new card will be ready to use within just a few minutes.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I activate my American Express card?

In order to activate your card, you can choose to call the number on the back of your card, use the Amex mobile app, or visit the American Express website.

Do you have to activate a new American Express card?

Once you request a new Amex card, you must activate it in order to use it. If you don’t activate your card, it won’t be available for use.

What number do I call to activate my American Express?

It’s generally recommended to call the number on the back of your card, however, calling 800-528-4800 will route you to the specific channel that’s able to assist you.

How do I know if my Amex card is active?

Your Amex card will show ready to use in the app, however, you can also call or chat with customer service to ensure it is live and good to go.

James Larounis's image

About James Larounis

James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in dozens of travel publications.


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