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How to activate any credit card

Activating your card is simple and fast.


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

Bank Activation phone number Activation website Activation available on mobile app? Guide to activating cards
Amex 800-869-3016 American Express checkmark
Bank of America 800-276-9939 Bank of America checkmark
Barclaycard 888-710-8756 Barclays checkmark
Capital One 800-227-4825 Capital One checkmark
Chase 800-432-3117 Chase checkmark
Citi 800-950-5114 Citibank checkmark
HSBC 800-975-4722 HSBC checkmark
Discover 800-347-2683 Discover checkmark
Luxury card 877-408-8866 Luxury card checkmark
PenFed 877-856-9690 PenFed checkmark
TD Bank 888-553-4122 TD Bank checkmark
U.S. bank 800-285-8585 US Bank checkmark
USAA 210-531-8722 USAA checkmark
Wells Fargo 800-642-4720 Wells Fargo checkmark

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 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)
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Perfect for families: Get up to 6% on everyday purchases and a welcome offer worth $300. This heavy-hitter rewards card has uncontested value. Rates & fees
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
20% at up to $200 back in the first 6 months, 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)
This everyday cashback card is ideal for Black Friday and holiday shopping with 20% back at up to $200 back in the first 6 months. 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)
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
Earn a signup bonus worth $750 with this popular travel card. Combine with other Chase Ultimate Rewards cards for even greater value.
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card
0% intro for the first 18 months (then 14.74% to 24.74% variable)
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.

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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