You will usually receive a new card about ten days after you apply for it. The fastest providers can get a new card to you within seven days.

However, it can take longer and depends on how quickly your new provider processes your application.

Applying for the card

If you apply online it should only take about ten minutes to complete the application process. It may take longer if you apply in a branch or by post and have to fill out a paper application form.

How long until your application is accepted?

The card company will then need to decide if they will accept your application. Some companies can take five to ten days to get back to you with a decision - especially if you apply by post.

However, most providers can now offer an instant decision if you apply online, whatever type of credit card you go for.

They will let you know if you have been accepted about a minute after you complete the application in most cases.

This can speed up the process of getting a card by about a week. You can compare every instant decision credit card here.

Their decision can take longer if they need to run further checks like:

When should you apply?

If you need a card for a specific purpose like paying for a holiday or making a balance transfer, apply for it at least a month or more before you need it, if possible.

Waiting for the card to arrive

Most credit cards will arrive a little over a week after your application is accepted, but this can be longer if the letter is delayed, stolen or lost in the post.

When will your new PIN arrive?

You will not be able to use your card in cash machines or places like shops and restaurants until you receive your Personal Identification Number (PIN), which you need to enter to authorise most transactions.

Your PIN will be sent in the post separately from your new card. It should arrive a day or two before or after your card.

Activating the card

You will need to activate your card once it arrives. This lets your provider know you have safely received it.

This only takes a few minutes and is easy to do. To activate your card, choose between the following:

  • Sign in to your online account

  • Phone the number on the card

  • Use a cash machine

  • Visit in person if they have a branch

Once you have activated the card you will be able to start using it.

What are the fastest ways to get a credit card?

If you need a credit card as soon as possible:

It can be faster if you apply through a credit card company or bank you already have accounts with because they will be able to verify your identity quicker.

Use an eligibility calculator

Some credit card companies provide an eligibility calculator that shows you which of their cards are most likely to accept your application. This will stop you wasting time on credit cards that are not available to you.

They use a "soft search" that does not show up on your credit record, and you can also use third party calculators that give you a choice of cards from more than one provider. Here is like how to make sure you get accepted for a card.