Applying for a new credit card can at times be a nerve-wracking experience — but it quickly turns to excitement when you see the words, “Congratulations, you’ve been approved!” appear on your screen.
If you’re applying for a new travel rewards card, you will likely be eager to start putting your card to use right away. However, there are a variety of factors that will determine how quickly you can begin using your new card.
Even though your application process may result in an instant decision, usually credit card issuers will require you to wait until you receive the card in the mail before you begin using it. The wait for your new card can often be 5-7 business days.
Some issuers will issue your credit card number instantly upon approval so you can begin using it right away.
To make matters easier, we’ve compiled a list of all major credit card issuers and their respective policies on issuing instant credit card numbers after approval.
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American Express (Best Option)
An instant card number upon approval of a new account is available on all American Express credit cards.
However, some people report that for co-branded cards, the card number issued instantly is only for use at the co-brand location. For example, a Hilton card may only be used with Hilton, or the Delta card only for use with Delta.
After your card number is given to you, remember to write it down and/or take a screenshot. You can request the number again from Amex, but it’s far quicker to take a note of the card number as you’re approved for the card.
Keep in mind that the card number you receive will likely be the same as the one on your physical card, but your temporary security code likely will not be the same.
Recommended Amex Cards (Personal)
|Amex Credit Card||Benefits & Info|
|Blue Cash Everyday® from American Express|
(at Amex's secure site)
|Blue Cash Preferred® from American Express|
(at Amex's secure site)
Hot Tip: If you don’t need your card number as soon as you’re approved, you can request the card number from Amex by getting in contact with them. In addition, many users have reported being given a statement credit if their software fails and is unable to issue the card number.
Alliant Credit Union
Alliant does not currently offer instant credit card numbers.
Bank of America
According to Bank of America, customers who apply and are approved for a credit card via the Bank of America mobile app can upload it immediately to their digital wallet. However, for those who apply through their website, the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card seems to be the only one that gives an instant card number.
Several Barclays co-branded credit cards offer instant card numbers and credit available for purchases made through the co-branded website. They are as follows:
- Frontier Airlines World Mastercard® — instant credit toward purchases made through the Frontier website
- Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard® — instant credit toward travel purchases made through the Hawaiian Airlines website
- The JetBlue Card — instant credit toward purchases through the JetBlue website
- Priceline Rewards™ Visa® Card — offers instant credit toward purchases through the Priceline website
- Princess Cruises® Rewards Visa® Card — offers instant credit when used to purchase a cruise with Princess Cruises
- Uber Credit Card — offers instant credit upon approval when you add it as the primary method of payment to your Uber account
BBVA does not offer credit card numbers instantly.
Capital One no longer provides credit card numbers instantly.
Chase does not offer instant credit card numbers to new account holders. However, in some instances, those who have been approved for a co-branded card are able to immediately use the card for a purchase made with the retailer.
Citi no longer provides credit card numbers instantly.
Discover does not offer instant credit card numbers.
The Apple credit card will allow cardholders to use the card instantly upon approval via the Wallet app on your iPhone.
HSBC will provide you with your credit card number after approval, but not the CVV or your card’s expiration date.
Navy Federal Credit Union does not offer instant credit card numbers.
The only cards offered by Synchrony that gives instant access to your card number are:
For PayPal or eBay cards, you can make an online purchase up to $250 via PayPal.
USAA will give you an instant card number to use, along with the expiration date and 3-digit code. This has a maximum credit limit of $1,000, which is increased to your approved credit limit when the physical card arrives.
U.S. Bank has begun issuing instant credit cards for mobile/online use on some cards with plans for this to roll out to all cards in the near future. This option is currently limited to those processing a credit card application with their text-to-apply option which only can happen for an application processed by a banker, either in-branch, over the phone, or via email.
Wells Fargo does not offer instant credit card numbers.
So why should you rush to get your card number in the first place? Here are a few reasons why you might want the option to use your card right away:
- Upfront Discount: If it’s a co-branded credit card you’re after, you’ll likely receive some sort of perk or discount with the merchant as soon as you sign up. This could be as simple as a discount off your airfare when you’re about to complete your booking. In this case, having the card number right away allows you to apply that discount to the purchase you were about to make anyway.
- Large Upcoming Purchase to Help Meet Welcome Bonus: If you’re familiar with the world of points and miles, you know that credit cards can come with very lucrative welcome bonuses for meeting the minimum spending requirements. The sooner you can meet the spending requirement, the sooner you get a large influx of points! Because of this, many people like to open a new credit card when they have a large upcoming purchase, such as a wedding or moving expenses.
- Emergency Need: Sometimes, you may find yourself in need of a line of credit quickly, and perhaps a 0% intro APR offer makes the most sense for you. In any case, if you need help financing a large or unexpected purchase you likely will want access to that credit sooner rather than later.
In summary, while there are some issuers that will allow you to receive your card instantly, you’ll usually need to wait between 5-7 business days to receive your new credit card. If you do happen to need access to your card right away, we recommend you consider an American Express card, as that will likely be your best bet.
Keep in mind that these policies can change at any time, and issuers can operate at their own discretion when deciding whether or not to issue your new card number instantly.
We love it when our readers share their experiences with us, so if you have a data point that confirms (or conflicts) with ours, please let us know in the comments below!