Q: After I apply, how long will it take to be approved and get my new credit card in the mail? I have a big purchase coming up that would satisfy my signup bonus spending requirement, so the sooner I get it the better.
A: Most banks will hedge their bets and only say it “generally” takes 7-10 days. That estimate includes the time it takes to process your application and for you to receive the credit card in the mail. I understand that can be a long time to wait if you need the card ASAP. Here are 4 tips I have that may help you…
Tip #1: The 7-10 days is usually a worst case estimate
The good news is that the 7-10 day estimate seems to have a lot of cushion built into it. It’s not unusual to receive your new card in as little as 4 or 5 business days. In this forum conversation a good chunk of the replies reported that it usually took only about 5 days to receive their card.
From personal experience, I have also found that when I apply for a new card, it typically comes sooner than 7-10 days. You can count on the banks providing a lot of padding in their delivery time estimates in order to manage their customers’ expectations.
Tip #2: Make sure the info in your application is correct
With many credit cards, a computer decides whether your application is approved or denied. The decision is based on the information you provide as well as what’s on your credit report.
However, if you provide info that doesn’t match your credit report, that discrepancy can trigger a manual review for your application (which may add a day or two onto the process). For example, if you specify an address or birthday that’s not the same as your credit report, the computer is going to say “hey this doesn’t match up, I better pass this along to a human for review” (okay I know computers don’t actually say stuff, but you get the point). This is a good example of why it’s a good idea to check your credit report every year (which can be obtained for free) in order to make sure you’re seeing what lenders are seeing and correct any discrepancies.
This is also a reason why you need to be careful when completing your application. When you apply by mail (written application) the person on the end reading the application might mis-read your handwriting. On the phone, problems can also arise because the person on the other end typing in your info might mistype your name or address or simply misunderstand what you said (and they’re not making the credit decision, they just type what you tell them, so you won’t realize what’s happened until after the fact). This is why applying online is your best bet – it’s the fastest way and it ensures accuracy since you are in charge and can look over all the details before hitting the submit button.
Tip #3: Higher tier cards = higher chance of manual review
If a card is advertised as requiring “excellent” credit, then obviously the bar for approval is set high. That means the odds that your application will have to be manually reviewed *might* be higher versus a lower tier card.
This means if you need to get approved for a credit card as soon as possible, it might make sense to apply for one that you know that you will qualify for most easily. Don’t over-reach in terms of going beyond what your credit quality can justify.
Tip #4: Some card issuers will offer rush shipping (if you ask)
Some (but not all) credit card companies will offer express shipping. Some will charge for it, others will toss it in for free when you ask for it.
And how long will it take to get your credit card in the mail with express delivery? From my experience, American Express and Chase both offered me 2-day shipping. But that was for replacement cards on my existing accounts. When you apply for a new card, keep in mind that in addition to shipping, there is time involved with approving your application.
If you want to get rush shipping, here’s what I recommend. First, apply online for the card. As mentioned above, online applications are the best. After you apply, you will receive an email confirmation which contains a phone number. Call that number and kindly ask if they will add express shipping. Some will do it for free, others may charge a fee of $15 or $20. If they try and charge you, see if they will offer you the new customer discount
Written or last updated July 25, 2014