The internet is a treasure trove when it comes to finding new credit cards and comparing them based on their rewards and cardholder perks. By and large, you can usually find a credit card you really want, apply for the card online and receive an approval for your new card all in the same day.
But this isn’t always the case, and you’ll also have to wait a while to actually receive your credit card after you’re approved. This guide goes over the average length of time it takes to be approved for a credit card, when yours could arrive in the mail and everything else you should expect.
How long does it take to get approved for a credit card?
Getting approved for a credit card can take as little as 60 seconds once you fill out an online application and hit “submit.” However, it may take a few days, or even a few weeks, to receive an email from a card issuer that says whether you’re approved or not. Per federal guidelines, credit issuers are required to send you a notice of your approval or denial within 30 days at the absolute latest.
Speedy credit approvals usually take place when your credit application is completely filled out and your credit score and income are sufficient to qualify without any question. On the other hand, card issuers may have to reach out to you for more information or for proof of your income or another claim. You may receive a letter or an email requesting this additional information, in which case you may still be able to qualify if you can provide the necessary documentation.
What is a preapproved credit card?
Some credit cards let you provide some basic information and become prequalified online. This extra step allows you to gauge your ability to be approved for a credit card without filling out a full application or enduring a hard inquiry on your credit report. Getting prequalified can be useful if you’re trying to decide if you should apply but you’re not entirely sure you want to.
You may also receive preapproved credit card offers in the mail, which means that a card issuer has run a preliminary assessment of your credit (a soft inquiry) to see if you are a likely candidate. Preapproval does not mean you’re “guaranteed” approval for the credit card in question, although it’s a good indicator; you still have to formally apply and meet the card issuer’s criteria.
How does credit approval work?
When you apply for a credit card, the card issuer will consider the information you submitted in your application. They’ll take a look at your updated credit report, credit history and credit score, income information and other debt obligations you listed in your application (such as your housing payment or rent). They’ll also consider how you’ve handled credit in the past using factors like your payment history.
Credit card issuers see their approval process as proprietary information, so there are no hard and fast rules that let you know whether you’ll be approved or not. Your best bet is making sure your credit score is in good shape and being honest on your application.
How long does it take to receive your card?
So, that’s how long it takes to get approved for a credit card, but when will you actually receive yours? Once again, this depends on the credit card you applied for and some factors beyond your control, like potential delays with the mail.
The following chart goes over the average time it takes to receive a credit card from major issuers.
Issuer New card Replacement card Card Services
American Express 7–10 business days 3 business days 1-800-297-8500
Bank of America Within 10 business days 7–10 business days 1-800-732-9194
Capital One 7–10 business days 7–10 business days 1-800-227-4825
Chase 3–5 business days 3–5 business days 1-800-432-3117
Citi 7–10 days 5–7 business days
Within 24 hours for lost/stolen cards
Discover 3–5 business days 5–7 business days
4-6 business days for lost/stolen cards
Wells Fargo 7–10 business days 7–10 business days 1-800-642-4720
Also, keep in mind that some card issuers, like American Express, for example, may offer you a virtual credit card number that can be entered in a mobile wallet. If you are eligible, you could use your virtual card number for purchases instantly after approval.