The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Tuesday, July 7, 2020

How Long Does It Take to Get a Credit Card?

How Long Does It Take to Get a Credit Card?

credit card advice

Adam West
By: Adam West
Updated: June 18, 2020
Advertiser Disclosure

After extensive searching, countless comparisons, and laborious decision-making, you finally did it. You finally chose a credit card. It took work — there are dozens of options simply for cash back cards alone — but you’re confident you made the right choice.

Now, all you need to do is apply and wait for your shiny new card to show up. But after so much agonizing over just the right card, it’s hard to remain patient. When is it going to come? Just how long does it take to get a credit card?

Not that long ago, when paper applications were the norm, the whole process — from application to card activation — could take weeks. Today, thanks to the wonder of the internet and digital applications, getting your credit card can be quicker than you think. In the following article, we’ll dive into the modern application and approval process as well as look at some of our top choices for credit cards for a wide range of credit scores.

Approval | Shipping

Approval Can Take Minutes with the Right Card

While you can still use an old-school paper application to apply for a credit card, online applications are the name of the game these days. Almost every credit card issuer offers online applications, which can be reached through the issuer’s website. Most online applications take only a few minutes to fill out and can provide a response in less than a minute.

Of course, near-instant responses aren’t always the case, as anyone who has received a “pending” notice knows all too well. Reasons for a pending application can be as varied as the applicants themselves, but often occur if your credit profile is on the borderline of acceptance for the card and needs a manual overview.

Depending on the reason your application decision couldn’t be made by the computer when you applied, responses can take days, up to weeks, to come in the mail. You can limit the chance of a pending application by being sure you fit the general credit requirements of the card you select.

Good Credit | Fair Credit | Poor Credit | No/Limited Credit

Best Cards for Good Credit

Consumers with good credit are the least likely to experience a credit-related “pending” application, but it can still happen if you apply for a credit card that expects excellent credit instead. Other reasons your application response may be delayed include too many recent accounts (think Chase’s 5/24 Rule) or too little credit history.

In many cases, calling the card’s application customer service line can help you determine the reason your application didn’t receive an immediate response. In the case your credit profile just didn’t quite make the cut, don’t worry; there are plenty of other options for good-credit consumers who want a solid credit card.

GOOD CREDIT RATING
★★★★★
5.0
OVERALL RATING
5.0/5.0
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
  • No annual fee
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% 15 Months
N/A
14.99%–23.74% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent
GOOD CREDIT RATING
★★★★★
5.0
OVERALL RATING
5.0/5.0
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
  • 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5.
  • No annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers 15 months
14.99% - 23.74% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent
GOOD CREDIT RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
4.8/5.0
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That's 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
15.99% - 22.99% Variable
$95
Good/Excellent

+See More Cards for Good Credit

Best Cards for Fair Credit

Those with fair credit are some of the most likely to wind up with a “pending” notice, particularly when applying for prime credit cards that usually cater to good credit or better. A low credit score, too much existing debt, a very limited credit history, or a too-recent negative mark could all contribute to an applicant needing to wait longer to receive a decision.

In addition to being sure to apply for cards that are friendly to fair-credit applicants, like those below, you can also check for pre-qualification offers to judge your chances of approval. While pre-qualifying for a credit card won’t guarantee acceptance (let alone immediate acceptance), it can be a good indicator of whether you’ll be approved when you apply.

Surge Mastercard® Review

at Celtic Bank'ssecure website

FAIR CREDIT RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
4.1/5.0
  • All credit types welcome to apply!
  • Free access to your Vantage 3.0 score From TransUnion* (When you sign up for e-statements)
  • Monthly reporting to the three major credit bureaus
  • See if you’re Pre-Qualified without impacting your credit score
  • Fast and easy application process; results in seconds
  • Free online account access 24/7
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
See website for Details
N/A
25.90% - 29.99%
See website for Details
Bad, Poor Credit
Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® Review

at Credit One'ssecure website

FAIR CREDIT RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
3.8/5.0
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability
  • Qualified applicants will receive a card with a competitive APR and no annual fee along with 1% cash back rewards on all purchases, terms apply
  • View updates to your Experian credit score with free online access, terms apply
  • Make paying your bill easier with the ability to choose your payment due date, terms apply
  • Access your account on-the-go with the Credit One Bank mobile app
  • Never miss an account update with customizable text and email alerts
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.99% to 23.99% Variable
$0 - $99
Fair
Credit One Bank® Visa® Credit Card with Cash Back Rewards Review

at Credit One'ssecure website

FAIR CREDIT RATING
★★★★★
4.5
OVERALL RATING
3.8/5.0
  • Qualified applicants will receive exclusive benefits such as 1% cash back rewards on all purchases, no annual fee, and a competitive APR. Terms apply.
  • Manage your account quickly and easily from your mobile device by using the Credit One Bank mobile app.
  • Use your Apple device to make purchases securely through Apple Pay®. Apple Pay is a registered trademark of Apple, Inc.
  • Your account is safeguarded against unauthorized charges with Zero Fraud Liability at no additional charge.
  • Take advantage of free online access to your Experian credit score and credit report summary so you can track the key factors impacting your credit health. Terms apply.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.99% to 23.99% Variable
$0 - $99
Fair

+See More Cards for Fair Credit

Best Cards for Poor Credit

At the bottom of the credit score totem pole, poor-credit consumers aren’t necessarily the most likely to get a pending application — but they are the most likely to be flat-out rejected. With poor credit, your credit card options are generally going to be restricted to subprime unsecured credit cards and secured credit cards.

Which card you select when you have bad credit will likely depend on your means at the time. If you can put forward a decent deposit, a secured credit card will typically offer much lower fees and interest rates than a subprime card, and deposits are fully refundable. That said, subprime unsecured credit cards will often require less money up front.

Surge Mastercard® Review

at Celtic Bank'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
4.1/5.0
  • All credit types welcome to apply!
  • Free access to your Vantage 3.0 score From TransUnion* (When you sign up for e-statements)
  • Monthly reporting to the three major credit bureaus
  • See if you’re Pre-Qualified without impacting your credit score
  • Fast and easy application process; results in seconds
  • Free online account access 24/7
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
See website for Details
N/A
25.90% - 29.99%
See website for Details
Bad, Poor Credit
Indigo® Unsecured Mastercard® - Prior Bankruptcy is Okay Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
4.0/5.0
  • Pre-qualifying today will not affect your credit score
  • Less than perfect credit histories can qualify, even with prior bankruptcy!
  • Mobile friendly online access from anywhere
  • Fraud protection for stolen or lost cards
  • Account history is reported to the three major credit bureaus in the U.S.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
24.9%
$0 - $99
Fair/Good
NetSpend® Visa® Prepaid Card Review

at Netspend'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING
★★★★★
4.6
OVERALL RATING
3.6/5.0
  • With Netspend Direct Deposit, you can get paid faster than a paper check.
  • No late fees or interest charges because this is not a credit card.
  • No Overdraft Fees on purchases using your card.
  • Use the NetSpend Mobile App to manage your account on the go and get text message or email alerts (Message & data rates may apply).
  • Card issued by MetaBank®, Member FDIC. Card may be used everywhere Visa Debit cards are accepted. Click "Get My Card " for full details.
  • See additional NetSpend® Prepaid Visa® details.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
Up-to $9.95 monthly
Not applicable

+See More Cards for Poor Credit

Best Cards for No/Limited Credit

Consumers who have yet to establish a credit history will have many of the same issues faced by those with fair credit, especially when applying for unsecured cards in the prime market. If you’re not worried about rewards, then no-frills entry-level credit cards are the best bet to establish credit.

If you’re in the market for rewards, however, there are some good secured credit card options, as well as several student cards that offer cash back rewards with no (or small) annual fees. Don’t expect rock-bottom APRs or big-dollar signup bonuses at this point; focus on building your credit the right way to unlock better cards down the road.

Surge Mastercard® Review

at Celtic Bank'ssecure website

NO/LIMITED CREDIT RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
4.1/5.0
  • All credit types welcome to apply!
  • Free access to your Vantage 3.0 score From TransUnion* (When you sign up for e-statements)
  • Monthly reporting to the three major credit bureaus
  • See if you’re Pre-Qualified without impacting your credit score
  • Fast and easy application process; results in seconds
  • Free online account access 24/7
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
See website for Details
N/A
25.90% - 29.99%
See website for Details
Bad, Poor Credit
Indigo® Unsecured Mastercard® - Prior Bankruptcy is Okay Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

NO/LIMITED CREDIT RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
4.0/5.0
  • Pre-qualifying today will not affect your credit score
  • Less than perfect credit histories can qualify, even with prior bankruptcy!
  • Mobile friendly online access from anywhere
  • Fraud protection for stolen or lost cards
  • Account history is reported to the three major credit bureaus in the U.S.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
24.9%
$0 - $99
Fair/Good
Milestone® Mastercard® - Less Than Perfect Credit Considered Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

NO/LIMITED CREDIT RATING
★★★★★
4.5
OVERALL RATING
3.9/5.0
  • Prequalify for a card today and it will not impact your credit score
  • Less than perfect credit is okay
  • Mobile account access at any time
  • Protection from fraud if your card is stolen
  • Account history is reported to the three major credit bureaus in the U.S.
  • *Dependent on credit worthiness
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
24.9%
$35 - $99
Bad, Poor Credit

+See More Cards for No/Limited Credit

Shipping Usually Takes 7 to 10 Days

Once your application has officially been approved, the real wait begins as your card makes it way to your mailbox. And that wait can last more than a week — between seven and 10 days, to be specific.

That’s because your approved application not only has to travel through the bank’s system so a new account can be created, but also because, well, your actual card has to be created. The EMV chip needs to be programmed with your information and inserted into the plastic (or, in some cases, metal) card, and your name imprinted or etched into the surface. After that, you still have to wait for the card to be prepared for shipping and sent through the U.S. Postal Service or another carrier of the card issuer’s choice.

In the case that you simply can’t wait a week for your new card to arrive, you may have the option to request expedited shipping — but it will likely cost you, as the majority of issuers will charge a fee for expedited shipping. Want your card lickety-split without the fee? These issuers will quick-time your card without charging a premium for the privilege.

Chase | Discover

Best Chase Credit Cards

A popular purveyor of consumer credit cards, Chase’s catalog of card options includes a range of rewards cards and a collection of co-branded options. And you can have any of those cards expedited for free simply by submitting a request, either through a secure online message or by calling Chase customer service at 1-800-432-3117.

EXPERT'S RATING
★★★★★
5.0
OVERALL RATING
5.0/5.0
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
  • No annual fee
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% 15 Months
N/A
14.99%–23.74% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent
EXPERT'S RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
4.8/5.0
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
16.99%-23.99% Variable
$550
Good/Excellent
EXPERT'S RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
4.8/5.0
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That's 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
15.99% - 22.99% Variable
$95
Good/Excellent

+See More Chase Credit Cards

Best Discover Credit Cards

The Discover it® cards are hugely popular for its quarterly rotating cash back bonus categories that can help cardholders earn tons of rewards in useful purchase categories. And getting your new Discover card is the quickest of all, as Discover expedites new cards as a matter of course, no fees required.

+See More Discover Credit Cards

Patience Can Be Key

Waiting sucks. After all the time and effort we tend to put into making decisions, the wait for the results can feel interminable. But, as with most things in life, patience can go a long way in the credit card process, whether it’s patience with a pending application or simply being patient as you wait for your card to arrive.

Advertiser Disclosure

CardRates.com is a free online resource that offers valuable content and comparison services to users. To keep this resource 100% free, we receive compensation from many of the offers listed on the site. Along with key review factors, this compensation may impact how and where products appear across the site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CardRates.com does not include the entire universe of available offers. Editorial opinions expressed on the site are strictly our own and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by advertisers.