Once you’ve decided that you need a credit card, the process of applying for a card can be quick and simple. You may be approved for the card on the same day you apply, although it can take up to 10 working days for your credit card to arrive in the post.
If you’ve got a holiday, a big purchase or event on the horizon, you may decide to apply for a new credit card. When looking for a credit card at short notice, keep in mind that the process can take time and apply as early as you can.
To get a credit card as soon as possible:
Look at instant decision credit cards
Check your credit record is in order. Contact the relevant credit reference agencies to correct any mistakes
Apply online rather than in person. Review your application for errors before you submit it and make sure you provide all the information required.
By applying at the start of the week, it could mean your card gets to you more quickly. This is because most credit card companies can only process your application on working days (Monday to Friday).
It can be faster to apply for a credit card with your current account bank, for example. This is because they can verify your identity more quickly.
This may not be the case if you are applying for a balance transfer card. Typically, credit card providers don’t allow you to apply for a new balance transfer card if you already have a credit card with them.
Before you go ahead and submit an application for a credit card, check how likely it is you'll get the card you want by using our eligibility checker. This will show you the likelihood of getting approval for specific cards, so you can apply specifically to lenders likely to approve you.
An eligibility checker only requires a 'soft' credit check so it will not appear on your credit file. It should also give you a choice of cards from more than one provider.
This will keep you from wasting time by applying for credit cards you will not get, and avoid leaving a record on your credit file (which may influence the decisions of lenders down the line).
Discover more ways to improve your chances of getting a card.
It can take just 10 minutes to apply for a credit card when you apply online. Before you apply, make sure that you have your personal information to hand, including:
You may also need to provide information about other credit cards that you already have.
An application might take longer if you apply in a branch or by post with a paper application, compared to an online application.
Credit card providers can take five to 10 days to decide if they'll accept your application.
But most providers now offer instant approval, especially when you apply online.
Instant approval means that your application and financial details, including your credit score, can be checked almost instantly. In cases where you clearly meet all of the application criteria, you'll usually find out the outcome within a minute or so of your application.
However, there are circumstances where you may have to wait longer to find out whether your application has been approved. Their decision may take longer if they need to:
Take a closer look at your credit record
Check fraud databases
Confirm your identity
If your application is declined, where possible, avoid making another application for at least six months. Too many applications for credit in a short period of time can signal to lenders that you are desperate to borrow money, making them less likely to approve your application.
Declined credit card applications remain on your credit report too. If you have had an application declined and you aren’t clear on why, check your credit history to look for any issues that may be hindering your ability to borrow.
If you need a credit card for a specific purpose, like a holiday or balance transfer, it's good practice to apply at least a month beforehand. The earlier you apply, the more time you allow for any administrative issues that may slow down the process.
However if you’re in the process of applying for a mortgage or preparing to apply for one, it may be best to avoid applying for any new credit in the six months before you make the application.
Most credit cards arrive within 10 working days after your application is accepted. Though it could take longer if the letter is delayed, stolen or lost in the post.
If you know you've been accepted for a credit card and it's not arrived within two weeks, contact the credit card provider. They may have to send you a replacement card and cancel the original.
You can start spending on your credit card as soon as you've received the card and your 4-digit PIN number.
These are sent separately in case your card is intercepted. The PIN number usually arrives a couple of days after your card.