How long does it take to get a credit card?

You’ve received the thumbs up by the provider and been approved for a credit card. What's next? Find out when you'll get your new credit card here.

Picture this, you’ve just been approved for a credit card and now you’re sitting on your sofa wondering how long you will need to wait for your postie to drop it off.

Fear not, in this guide, we will explain when you can expect to receive your new credit card and what happens after it has arrived.

When will I get my new credit card?

On average, it takes around 7 business days from being approved to receiving your new credit card in the post. However, if your issuer has asked you to provide more info, it could take anywhere up to 2 weeks. Don’t get caught short and leave yourself plenty of time if you’re applying for a credit card for travel or planning to switch credit cards before your 0% period runs out.

You can use our table below to compare the application processes of the main credit card providers in the UK and how long you can expect your card to arrive.

ProviderApplication length (approx)Decision time (business days)Card arrival (business days)
American ExpressLess than 10 minutesIn minutes or if more information is needed, up to 10 days10 days
Barclaycard3–5 minutesIn minutes or if more information is needed, up to 14 days7–14 days
HalifaxLess than 15 minutesIn minutes or if more information is needed, up to 14 days7 days
HSBCLess than 10 minutesUp to 14 days7 days
Lloyds BankLess than 10 minutesIn minutes or if more information is needed, up to 7 days5–7 days
M&S BankLess than 10 minutesUp to 2 days10 days
MBNALess than 10 minutesUp to 14 days7 days
NatwestLess than 30 minutesIn minutes or if more information is needed, up to 7 days7–10 days
Sainsbury’s BankLess than 10 minutesIn minutes or if more information is needed, within 7 days5–7 days
SantanderLess than 10 minutesIn minutes or if more information is needed, within 7 days7 days
Tesco BankLess than 10 minutesWithin 10 minutes5–7 days
Virgin MoneyLess than 10 minutesIn minutes or if more information is needed, within 1–2 days10 days

What happens after I have applied for a credit card?

Once you have applied for a credit card, the provider will run a credit check on you to make sure that you are eligible for that credit card. This credit check, sometimes called a “hard credit check”, will give the lender a better idea of your financial situation and what APR will suit you best (heads up, you might not receive the representative APR). Unlike a soft credit check, this will show up on your credit report and if you are declined the card or have multiple applications, your credit score could be negatively affected.

Depending on the provider, you could find out if you have been approved for a credit card almost instantly. However, you may be asked to provide more info. If you find that this happens to you, once you have provided this information, you could hear back from the lender anywhere from within a few minutes to a few weeks.

What if I am not instantly approved?

Most lenders will supply a free eligibility checker to give you a better idea of your chances of approval before you proceed with an application. These eligibility checks are often referred to as a “soft search” and will not affect your credit score. It is always wise to do this before applying for any type of loan, as a declined result or frequent applications can have a negative affect on your credit score.

If you have gone through the full application journey, including the eligibility journey and are not instantly approved, it could be that the provider might need some more information from you before giving you an answer. This could be anything from personal identification documents to payslips. You may need to visit your local branch to provide this information in person.

If you find that you are still refreshing your emails longer than the time period the lender has set, you can call to find out more. We have provided some useful numbers below.

Useful numbers

ProviderContact number
American Express0800 917 8015
Barclaycard0345 734 5345
Halifax0345 944 4555
HSBC0800 731 8921
Lloyds Bank0345 072 5555
M&S Bank0345 900 0900
MBNA03456 062 062
Natwest0800 218 2345
Sainsbury’s Bank0800 218 2345
Santander0800 389 9905
Tesco Bank0345 300 4278
Virgin Money0800 389 2875

What do I do once I get my credit card?

The big day has arrived and you have received your new credit card, what now? Before you start spending you will need to activate your card. Your credit card provider should give you information on how to do this but we have a few insights below.

Activate your card

To activate your new credit card, you will need to have your new card number and date of birth (to confirm that it is you). Depending on your provider, you could activate your card online, over the phone or at an ATM.

If you’re using a bank that you are already an existing customer of, it could be as easy as signing into your online banking and working through the activation steps, if not, you might need to phone the provider’s 24-hour activation phone number.

Activate your digital card

If you’re a tech-savvy shopper and like to make use of your phone’s digital wallet, once you have received and activated your credit card, you can add it to your phone. You might have to call up your provider’s 24-hour fraud protection phone number to confirm that it is you.

If your provider has a mobile payment app, you will have to sign in and add your card. If this is a new bank, you might need to set this up prior.

Frequently asked questions

We show offers we can track - that's not every product on the market...yet. Unless we've said otherwise, products are in no particular order. The terms "best", "top", "cheap" (and variations of these) aren't ratings, though we always explain what's great about a product when we highlight it. This is subject to our terms of use. When you make major financial decisions, consider getting independent financial advice. Always consider your own circumstances when you compare products so you get what's right for you. Most of the data in Finder's comparison tables is provided by Moneyfacts.

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