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How to activate any credit card

Activating your card is simple and fast.

Updated

Fact checked

As soon as your card arrives in your mail, your next step is to activate it. All card providers offer two ways of doing that, either online or by phone. But a rising number of card providers offer a third way — via the card provider’s mobile app.

What you need to activate your card

To activate your credit card, you’ll need your:

  1. Credit card information. This includes the credit card number, expiry date and the card’s CVC/CVV number.
  2. Personal information. You’ll also need to verify your identity by providing your date of birth, Social Security number and answer your security questions.

How to activate a credit card

The card activation process is generally the same across all providers. Here’s how it works:

  1. Call the number on the back of your card or sign up for your provider’s online banking.
  2. Find your new card under Accounts if activating online or request card activation by phone.
  3. Follow the prompts and provide your card’s and your personal information.

TIP: If you’re activating your card by phone, call from the number you assigned in your card application to speed things up. Otherwise, you may need to provide additional information to verify you are the real cardholder.

Some card providers let you activate your card with the provider’s mobile app. In this case, the process is similar to activating your card online.

How to activate a credit card with each bank

BankActivation phone numberActivation websiteActivation available on mobile app?Guide to activating cards
Amex800-869-3016American Expresscheckmark
Bank of America800-276-9939Bank of Americacheckmark
Barclaycard888-710-8756Barclayscheckmark
Capital One800-227-4825Capital Onecheckmark
Chase800-432-3117Chasecheckmark
Citi800-950-5114Citibankcheckmark
HSBC800-975-4722HSBCcheckmark
Discover800-347-2683Discovercheckmark
Luxury card877-408-8866Luxury cardcheckmark
PenFed877-856-9690PenFedcheckmark
TD Bank888-553-4122TD Bankcheckmark
U.S. bank800-285-8585US Bankcheckmark
USAA210-531-8722USAAcheckmark
Wells Fargo800-642-4720Wells Fargocheckmark

Compare credit cards

Once your card is activated, you can start using it. After a while, you may feel the need for a higher credit line or features that your card lacks. Pairing cards also lets you maximize rewards. For example, if you now earn flat rewards on all purchases, your next card could have excellent rewards for groceries, gas or any other category where you spend most. Check out the cards in the table below to see the perks you can get.

Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual fee
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
2% at US gas stations and select US department stores, 3% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
$0
Get 3% cash back on groceries on up to $6,000 annually (then 1%) with no annual fee. This is a simple and effective rewards card. Rates & fees
Chase Freedom Flex℠
5% back in rotating categories up to $1,500 combined each activated quarter (then 1%), 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 23.74% variable)
$0
Get up to 5% cashback in rotating and newly added everyday categories. The refreshed Freedom Flex card has lots of earning potential.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
5x points on Lyft, 2x points on travel and dining and 1x points on all other purchases
15.99% to 22.99% variable
$95
Earn a huge signup bonus worth $$1,000 with this popular travel card. Combine with other Chase Ultimate Rewards cards for even greater value.
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card
N/A
0% intro for the first 18 months (then 14.74% to 24.74% variable)
$0
An impressive 18 months intro APR on balance transfers and purchases, as well as no annual fee make this one of the top 0% APR cards available.
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
6% on select US streaming services, 3% on transit and US gas stations, 6% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 annually, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 12 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
$95
Perfect for families: Get up to 6% on everyday purchases and a welcome offer worth $250. This heavy-hitter rewards card has uncontested value. Rates & fees
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Compare up to 4 providers

What happens if you don’t activate your card

If you don’t activate your card, your account will likely be open but you and your authorized users won’t be able to make any purchases. Also, if you don’t activate your card, you risk compromising your card’s security.

Bottom line

There are two main ways to activate your card — by phone and online. Some card providers may also let you activate your card via their mobile app. Whichever method you choose, the process is fast and simple.

But now that your credit card is active, consider applying for an additional credit card to increase your credit limit, get additional perks and to get a chance to earn a new signup bonus.

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