How Long It Takes to Get Approved for a Credit Card

Credit Card Application Form

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There's so much anticipation when you're filling out a credit card application. From the moment you start filling in the application all the way up to when you click the submit button, you probably have three big questions going through your mind: Will I be approved? How much will my credit limit be? How soon will I find out whether I'm approved?

The amount of time it takes to get the answers to these questions depends mostly on how you submit your credit card application.

You May Find Out You're Approved Right Away

If you're applying for a credit card online, over the phone, or in person (e.g. at a retail store) and you've given all the correct information, you can typically find out whether your credit card application is approved in 60 seconds or less.

When you make your credit card application online, make sure you use a secure web connection (not a public Wi-Fi) to prevent your details from being stolen.

Once you've submitted the application, don't press the back button or the submit button more than once. Otherwise, there could be issues with processing your application.

Once your approval is confirmed, you'll also find out the credit limit you've been approved for. Then, in 7-10 business days, you'll receive your credit card in the mail. Activate your credit card and you're ready to start making purchases.

With some types of credit card accounts, you can use your credit card instantly. For example, if you're approved for a retail store credit card, you'll typically be able to use the account in the store and any sister stores the same day you're approved.

Why a Credit Decision Could Be Delayed

Sometimes the lack of an instant credit decision means your application is denied, but that's not always the case. The credit card issuer may not be able to deliver an instant approval decision if your application needs further review or you provided incorrect or incomplete information. Wait a few days (7-10 days typically) and you'll receive an email, letter, or phone call from the credit card issuer requesting additional information or explaining the fate of your application.

Mailed applications can take longer to process. When you mail your credit card application, you may not find out whether you're approved for two to three weeks. You have to wait for the card issuer to receive and process your application and then mail you a response.

If it's been several days since you made your credit card application and you haven't heard anything about your approval, call the credit card issuer to request the status of your application. You can find the card issuer's number on their website.

Improve Your Chances of Getting Approved

You're more likely to be approved when you apply for a credit card you're qualified for. For example, if you do not have much credit or you have bad credit, you probably won't be approved for a premium rewards credit card. Some credit card issuer websites tell which credit cards are for excellent, average, or bad credit. Stick to the credit cards that most fit with your credit profile for the best chances at being approved.