How long does credit card approval take

how long does credit card approval take

Approval for a credit card can take anywhere from a few minutes up to 30 days. The processing time depends on the lender, the verification of your information, and other factors. 

Credit cards are useful financial tools that give borrowers access to convenient funding. In fact, 82% of U.S. adults have at least one credit card.1 If you don’t yet have a line of credit, rest easy knowing the approval process is fairly simple.

Keep reading to learn about credit applications, how they may impact your credit reports, and how you can go about using your new card in a financially responsible way!

What Is the Approval Process Like for Credit Cards?

Whether you apply online, over the phone, or in person, the credit card approval process is generally easy to follow and hassle-free. 

1. Pre-ApprovalSoft Credit Check– Involves a preliminary assessment through a soft credit check.
– Determines if the applicant fits the criteria for the credit card.
– Basic information like name, address, income, and contact details are collected.
2. Final ApprovalHard Credit Inquiry– A more detailed examination of the applicant’s financial history.
– Includes credit mix, length of credit history, account balances, outstanding debt, payment history.
– Determines the final approval status of the credit card application.
3. Receive Your CardPhysical Card Issuance– After approval, the physical credit card is mailed to the applicant.
– Options for expedited shipping or instant-use cards may be available.
– The card can be used for transactions once received or activated.

Why Does My Credit Card Issuer Need an Official Credit Report?

Why do most issuers look into your credit history and credit scores when determining credit card approval? Because your credit report contains the most accurate depiction of your current financial situation. Lenders and other credit issuers want to know that they aren’t taking an unreasonable financial risk when they grant approval, so they check credit scores to see how likely applicants are to be responsible borrowers.

If you want to qualify for more pre-approved offers, take a look at your FICO Score and see where there is room for improvement. One of the most important habits you can pick up if you want to increase your credit score is making your due payments on time. Payment history accounts for 35% of your overall credit score and influences your score the most. Try signing up for autopay or setting a payment reminder on your phone or computer to help ensure you make every payment on or before its due date!  

Other steps you can take towards improving your credit are: 

  • Focus on paying off existing debt
  • Limit new credit inquiries
  • Utilize reward programs like Experian Boost

What Else Do Credit Card Issuers Consider Before Approving Your Credit Card Application?

Most credit card issuers will inquire about your debts, delinquent accounts, recent credit applications, and your general income in addition to requesting an official copy of your credit report. 

Existing Debts

How much you owe in debt and outstanding balances will affect a borrower’s approval time. The more outstanding debt you have, the less likely you are to receive approval for additional credit. 

Some forms of debt that credit issuers will pay attention to are: 

Delinquent Accounts

Delinquent accounts are financial accounts where you have a history of either missed payments, late payments, or default. Unfortunately, having delinquent accounts on your credit profile can affect your credit score for up to seven years and could hold you back from being instantly approved. 

Recent Credit Applications

Every time you apply for new credit, like loans or credit cards, the lender or card issuer will perform a hard credit check. Hard credit checks are reported on and have the ability to affect your credit score. For each credit application, you can expect your credit score to go down a few points. If you have too many hard credit checks on your credit report, lenders may see this as a red flag and deny your online applications. 


Your employment status and how much money you bring in on a regular basis will almost certainly affect your credit approval status. Showing income on credit applications proves that you have a way to pay back the money you borrow. Be sure your lender has your most recent employment and income information to give your credit application the best chance for approval. 

How Do Approved Lines of Credit Work?

Credit cards are a revolving line of credit, which means borrowers have access to a refreshed credit limit every month. At the end of each billing cycle, borrowers will receive a statement that contains a breakdown of how their credit line has been used. This document will have their statement balance as well as the current balance. Before you get a new card, it’s essential to know the difference between a statement balance vs. current balance.

A statement balance reflects how much debt a borrower has accumulated during the current billing cycle. In contrast, a current balance is a combination of all unpaid statement balances and reflects how much money a borrower owes on their credit card overall. 

Credit Score Impact 

Understanding the impact of credit card usage on your credit score is crucial for maintaining good financial health. Your credit score is a numerical representation of your creditworthiness and plays a significant role in your ability to obtain loans, credit cards, and even affects things like insurance rates and rental agreements. Here’s how credit cards can affect your credit score:

  • Payment History (35% of Credit Score) — This is the most significant factor in your credit score calculation. Making credit card payments on time consistently positively impacts your score. Conversely, late payments, defaults, and collections can significantly harm your credit score.
  • Credit Utilization Ratio (30%) — This refers to the amount of credit you’re using compared to your total available credit limit. It’s recommended to keep your utilization below 30% of your total credit limit. High utilization can signal to lenders that you’re over-reliant on credit, negatively impacting your score.
  • Length of Credit History (15%) — The longer your credit history, the better it is for your score. When you keep a credit card account open and in good standing for a long time, it strengthens your credit history.
  • New Credit Inquiries (10%) — Every time you apply for a new credit card, a hard inquiry is made into your credit report, which can temporarily lower your score. Applying for multiple credit cards in a short period can be a red flag to lenders.
  • Credit Mix (10%) — Having a mix of different types of credit (like credit cards, auto loans, and mortgages) can positively impact your score. It shows lenders that you can manage various types of credit responsibly.

Tips for Using Your Credit Card Wisely

When used responsibly, credit cards can be a helpful financial tool that allows users to make purchases on credit, improve their credit score, and more. Check out the tips below on how to manage a credit card wisely

Research Credit Card Issuers Before Applying

Before filling out an application and going through a hard credit inquiry, research the many issuers who offer lines of credit online. Take a look at the different financial products offered and compare these loan terms:

  • Interest rates
  • Payback terms
  • Reward programs
  • Annual fees 

After seeing what is available, you can narrow down your search and submit applications where you think you’d be a good fit. 

Pay Off Your Balance Regularly

Since credit cards are revolving lines of credit, it’s easy to get into the habit of using them to make regular purchases. However, if you use your credit card regularly without clearing out the balance, you may start to accumulate an unmanageable amount of debt. To avoid digging yourself into a hole of credit card debt, pay off your balance as often as possible. 

Utilize Rewards

If your credit card company offers rewards like cash back or travel points, make sure you utilize these benefits, especially if they expire. These rewards are essentially free money!  

Freeze Your Account Immediately if Your Card Is Lost or Stolen

Protect yourself from identity theft or fraud by freezing your account immediately if you ever discover your credit card is lost or has been stolen. Many credit card accounts allow users to freeze their accounts instantly online or via a mobile app, which will prevent a thief from being able to use a stolen card to make fraudulent purchases. 

In addition to freezing your credit card account, you can also report your card as stolen and arrange for your issuer to send you a replacement credit card. 

FAQs About Credit Cards

What factors do card issuers consider during the credit card approval process?

Card issuers typically look at your credit score, income, employment status, and debt-to-income ratio. They use this information to assess your creditworthiness and ability to repay.

How long does it usually take to get approved for a credit card?

The approval time can vary. Some major credit card issuers offer instant approval, especially if you apply online. However, in some cases, it might take a few business days to a couple of weeks.

Can I use my credit card immediately after approval?

Yes, if you can find a credit card issuer that provides an instant use credit card. With instant use credit cards, you can start using your card for online purchases even before the physical card arrives.

What should I do if my credit card application is denied?

Check the reason for denial. It could be due to a low credit score or insufficient income. Work on improving these factors and consider reapplying later.

Is it possible to get a credit card from a major issuer with a low credit score?

Yes, some major credit card issuers offer cards designed for people with low credit scores. These might have higher interest rates or require a security deposit.

How can I get my new credit card faster after approval?

Some card issuers offer expedited shipping for your card, often for an additional fee. This option can be useful if you need your card quickly for urgent purchases or travel.

Are there any benefits to applying for a credit card with instant approval?

Instant approval credit cards can be beneficial if you need to make immediate purchases or want to take advantage of a timely promotional offer. Plus, it’s convenient and saves time.

What’s the difference between instant approval and pre-approval for credit cards?

Instant approval means you get a decision on your application shortly after applying. Pre-approval, on the other hand, indicates that a card issuer has preliminarily assessed your creditworthiness, usually through a soft credit check, and you’re likely to be approved if you apply.

A Final Note From CreditNinja on Credit Cards 

While it’s possible to be approved for a credit line relatively quickly, consider other financing options before you submit an application. Credit cards generally have very high interest rates, unless you have perfect credit. And if you don’t pay your balance in full each month, your interest fees could accumulate very quickly. 

If you are looking for financial assistance for a single emergency expense, you may be better off with a CreditNinja personal loan. Read our online reviews to get a better sense of what past and current customers have to say about us. 


  1. Credit Cards  |  GAO
  2. How Long Does It Take to Get a Credit Card? | USN
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