How quickly can you get a credit card?

You will usually receive a new card about ten days after you apply for it. The fastest credit card 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.

How long does it take to apply for a credit 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 credit card company will then decide if they will accept your application. Some companies can take five to ten days to make a decision - especially if you apply by post.

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

You will 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.

Their decision may 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.

When will your credit card 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.

How soon can you start using your credit card?

You can start spending on your credit card once you have received it in the mail, and:

  • You have received your Personal Identification Number (PIN)

  • You have activated your card

When will your new PIN arrive?

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.

You won't be able to use your card in cash machines or places like shops and restaurants until you receive your PIN, which you need to enter to authorise most transactions.

How to activate your 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

You can use our eligibility checker, to check which credit card providers are most likely to accept your application.

It uses a "soft search" that does not show up on your credit record, and it will give you a choice of cards from more than one provider.

This will stop you wasting time on credit cards that are not available to you.