Q: After I apply, how long will it typically take to be approved and receive a new credit card in the mail? I have a large 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, so there is some padding in there. 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 scenario
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.
Based on survey results, when someone applies for a new card, it typically comes much sooner than 7-10 days. You can count on the banks providing a lot of leeway in their time estimates in order to manage their customers’ expectations and cut down on inbound customer service calls (which do cost them money).
Tip #2: Make sure the info in your application is correct
With most credit card applications, a computer program decides whether your app 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 information 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). That’s why it’s a good idea to check your credit report every single 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 extremely careful when completing your application. When you apply by mail (written application) the decision analyst may have trouble reading your handwriting. Most of us type on computers more than write things by hand in modern life so this can make it easy to make inadvertent errors when filling out an application by hand. On the phone, problems can also arise because the person on the other end typing in your info might mis-key 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 specifically ask
Some, though not all, credit card companies offer express shipping upon request. 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 😉 It never hurts to ask.
Written or last updated October 28, 2015