6.3%! That’s the official unemployment rate as calculated by the Labor Department. This translates to about 10.1 million Americans who are not only jobless but may be in dire need of some financial relief. The kind of relief that can come from a new credit card.
The problem with being in urgent need of a cash infusion is that sometimes you can’t quite get it as fast as you need it. Maybe it’s money for groceries and other basic survival supplies such as water and paying for the electric bill, or maybe you just need that credit card as a backup plan.
Either way, should you apply for a new credit card right now, it’s unlikely you’ll be getting that relief before you can say the words “credit card.” It may take up to a week or even longer.
Now you are probably saying to yourself: “Wait a week? That doesn’t sound right! How quickly can I really get a credit card?”
Unfortunately, getting a credit card isn’t quite as instantaneous as most people would like it to be. To some, that wait time can be longer than they can bear. Let’s take a quick look at how quickly you can get a credit card should you meet all the requirements, as well as some tips on how to speed up the process.
How Quickly Can I Get a Credit Card?
You can get a credit card in 7 to 10 business days. This, of course, depends on the kind of credit card you apply for and whether or not you use some of the tips and tricks shared later on in this article. Otherwise, a typical credit card takes about 10 business days to ship. Of course, this is assuming that you either got pre-approved or your credit card application was approved immediately.
In many cases, especially if your credit score has some “question marks” on it, you may get a “pending” response when you apply. This means that while your credit report is under review, it’s going to take an extra couple of days or even a week before you see an “approved” message or, unfortunately, a denial.
What Does the Process of Getting a Credit Card Entail?
You can apply for credit cards online, by mail, or by phone, depending on which credit card you choose. Either way you look at it, you are going to be asked for your personal information, which in this case includes:
- Full name
- Home address
- Social Security Number
- Employment status
People who apply online have the best chances of getting instantly approved since most credit cards that accept this application form have automated their approval process. If you meet their minimum requirements, which usually comes down to your credit score, you will most likely get instantly approved online.
However, if your information is not on par with their requirements, your credit card application may go through the manual approval process. This, depending on the discrepancy in your credit report, could take anywhere from a couple of hours to a week.
Another issue might be the application process you choose. Mail or phone applications typically take much longer than online applications.
What you need to remember, however, is that getting approved and receiving your credit card in hand are not the same thing. Each process could take an entire week, meaning that the soonest you might get your credit card could be anywhere between 7 and 14 days. You will typically find that 10 working days is the average timeline.
Thankfully, there are credit card companies that offer expedited delivery. These include:
- Chase: With Chase expedited delivery, you could receive your credit card in less than two business days at no extra cost.
- Bank of America: You can get your new credit card with 72 hours at no extra cost.
- Barclays: With Barclays, you can have your credit card within two business days for an extra fee of $15.
- Capital One: Can deliver your new credit card within 2 to 3 business days for an extra fee of $16.
Two Tips for Fast Turnaround – How You Can Get Your Credit Card Faster?
As you have probably realized by now, there are some ways to “game the system.” Of course, all this hinges on getting approved for the credit card in the first place. Here are a couple of ways that can help you get your credit card faster:
1. Get Pre-Approved for Credit Cards Before You Apply
This is one of the best ways to make sure that you cut out that extra couple of days or even the week it would take a credit card issuer to manually review your application. Getting pre-approved for a credit card isn’t as complicated as it might sound. Here are some ways to go about it:
- Mail offers: Those credit card mail offers most people typically ignore are a good place to start. These offers are often from a credit card issuer who has looked at your data and determined that you meet their minimum requirements for credit card qualification.
- Apply for preapproval: Of course, this option is for people who don’t need their credit cards “like yesterday!” A credit card company may allow you to apply for preapproval or prequalification through their website. All you have to do is feed them a bit of your data, and their system will run it to see if you fit the criteria. You could also use a service provided by one of the major credit rating authorities called Experian CreditMatch. This service gives you options on which credit cards you may be pre-approved for based on your credit score and records.
- Note: Checking whether or not you are pre-approved for a credit card isn’t necessarily the same as asking for a credit card. Here’s why that’s an important distinction: Whenever you ask for a line of credit, it gets recorded on your credit records as a “Hard Inquiry,” which often impacts your credit score. More so if you end up getting denied for that credit line. On the other hand, checking your prequalification status is considered a “Soft Inquiry,” and even though it’s also recorded, it doesn’t affect your credit score.
It’s important to note that just because you performed a Soft Inquiry and realized that you are prequalified for a certain credit card doesn’t necessarily mean that you are approved. This just means that you are most likely to get pre-approved for those credit cards.
This is mostly because the prequalification factors or data submitted during this process are quite thin. The credit card issuer will review much more of your data and factors that weren’t mentioned in the prequalification process will come up.
2. Go for Credit Cards Offering Instant Access to Credit
There are some credit cards that you can use even before you have the actual card in your hand. All you need is the instant card number. For example, there are some store cards, such as Apple Card, which, if approved, can be added to your digital wallet, and you can start using them on the very same day (provided it’s at a store that accepts mobile payments).
Applying for credit cards that offer instant access to credit also means you can only use them at specific merchants and for purchases that don’t require you to present the physical card. Typically, if you are online shopping on platforms such as Amazon, you can start using these cards immediately after you get approved.
A good example of a non-store credit card that allows you to get instant access to your credit is American Express. Once you get approved for this card, you immediately get access to your credit card number, which means you can start using it online or for phone purchases.
Some co-branded cards allow for instant access to credit. Cards such as the Capital One Walmart Rewards MasterCard can be used immediately upon approval.
The issue with these co-branded cards is that they often come with a lot of restrictions. For example, the Capital One Walmart Rewards MasterCard can be used immediately after approval.
Still, you can only use it in a Walmart store if you link to the card and pay via the pay feature within the Walmart app or while making online purchases on the Walmart website using the card number.
There are also other tips and tricks you can use to help speed up the application process. Some of them include:
- Only applying for cards that approve people who have a similar credit score as you. While this might sound a lot like only applying for cards that you are pre-approved for, the subtle difference is that some cards, albeit more expensive, offer credit to people with a less than stellar credit history. If you do your research properly and go for cards that typically cater to people who have lower scores than you, there’s a very good chance that you will get approved for that card seeing as you’ll qualify as the cream of the crop.
- Do a thorough audit of your credit report and dispute any erroneous entries that might be ruining your credit score. Yes, this isn’t one of the fastest methods to get a credit card, but it’s a good way to ensure that you qualify for better credit cards in the future. Doing a credit record audit is something that everyone should make a habit of. Mistakes do occur, and when these mistakes are disputed, provided you have proof that confirms the error, your credit score could improve once the error is rectified. With that, your chances of getting approved for more credit cards increases.
So, the answer to the question: “How quickly can I get a credit card” essentially boils down to how strategic you are with the application process. Typically, it takes about 10 business days. However, with the tips and tricks highlighted above, you could get instant approval and access to credit minutes after completing the credit card application.