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How long does it take to apply for a credit card?

How long will it take for my credit card to arrive

published: 10 August 2022
Read time: 5 minutes

How long it’ll take for your credit card to arrive can depend on a few factors. In our guide, MoneySuperMarket lets you know how long it might take.

How long it’ll take for your credit card to arrive can depend on a few factors. In our guide, MoneySuperMarket lets you know how long it might take. 

What information do I need to apply for a credit card?  

Rules will vary across lenders, but this is what’s generally needed: 

  • Personal details: Lenders will want to know your name and age. Most credit card providers will need you to be 18 and over to apply 

  • Income: Most lenders will want to know how much you earn. If you have a steady and stable income that can assure lenders you’ll be able to pay your credit card bill. However, some lenders will have minimum income requirements 

  • Address: Lenders will want to know your previous address history. You’re usually asked for your address over the last three years 

  • Proof of ID: You’ll need to provide documents to prove you are who you say you are. Acceptable forms of physical ID can be your passport or driving licence 

Woman using a chip and pin in a coffee shop

How long does a credit card application take?  

When it comes to applying for a credit card, how long your application will take to be approved will depend on several factors, including your credit history and the lender’s eligibility criteria.   

It will also depend on how you apply. For example, when you apply for a credit card online, it could take a matter of minutes for your application to be completed. In contrast, if you apply for a credit card over the phone, in a bank branch or by post the process is likely to take longer.  

Can I speed up the process of getting a credit card?  

Applying for a credit card online, rather than through the post, is the easiest way to speed up the process. It means you aren’t reliant on the postman, or on the credit card company’s application processing department to review your application once it arrives.  

However, there are other ways you can speed up the process of getting a credit card. The biggest factor in deciding whether you’ll be approved for a card is your credit history. So, if you need to build up your credit score you should aim to do this first – before applying for a new credit card.  

You can check your credit file and score for free before you apply. Remember to check for any errors, and if you notice any mistakes on your credit file aim to get them resolved before you apply for a credit card. You can usually get mistakes corrected by contacting the relevant lender directly.  

How long does it take to arrive if my application is accepted?  

Once you’ve been approved for a credit card, it’s likely to take a maximum of around two weeks to get to you in the post - although this will depend on your lender.  

When can I start using the new credit card?  

You can usually use your new credit card after you’ve activated it. Your credit card can usually be activated by either online banking, calling your provider or using a cash machine.  

Can I get instant approval on a credit card?  

When you compare credit cards with MoneySuperMarket, you’ll usually know within a few minutes of finishing the search whether or not you’ve likely to be accepted – this is known as ‘instant approval.’ But ultimately, approval for any credit card will depend on your credit score and how well you’ve managed your borrowing in the past – and you won’t know the lender’s final decision until you apply for the card.   

The better you’ve managed your debts, repaying on time and not over-extending with your borrowing – the higher your credit score is likely to be and the more likely you are to be approved for the best credit card deals.  

While no credit card will be guaranteed to approve any applicant, there are ways to increase your chances of being accepted, usually by strengthening your credit score.   

Keen to improve your chances of being accepted for a credit card? Take a look at our guide to guaranteed approval.  

Can I get a credit card without a credit check?  

Any reputable lender will carry out a credit check when you apply for a credit card. A hard credit check will be taken out when you apply for a credit card. This is when the credit card provider carries out a thorough check of your credit report.  

A hard credit check will take an in-depth look at your financial history and reveal any negative marks such as CCJs and debt. This is why it’s important to regularly check your credit score and find out if there are any errors which may be bringing your score down. 

You should be aware that making many applications for credit within a short space of time can negatively affect your credit score.  

What happens if my application is declined? 

If your credit card application is rejected this can be both frustrating and worrying, especially if you’re not sure why you were declined.   

There could be several reasons why your credit application was refused. You might have no credit history so lenders will have no proof of how you manage credit, or you could have CCJs or  bankruptcy within the last seven years, which indicates to lenders that you’ve had debt problems in the past. It is a good idea to investigate and find out why you were declined so you can work on strengthening your application for next time.  

For more information on why your credit card application was declined, take a look at our guide on refused credit.   

Other useful guides 

For more information on credit card applications and how to find the right credit card for you, take a look at some of our similar guides:  

Compare credit cards with MoneySuperMarket

It’s easy to find the right credit card for you when you compare with us. All you need to do is tell us a little about yourself and your finances, as well as what you want to use the new card for, and we’ll give you a list of deals tailored to your needs, all usually within minutes. 

You can filter and compare cards by their APR, any benefits or incentives, and how likely you are to get the card if you apply. This way you can reduce the risk of being refused credit, keeping your credit score in better shape.

Once you’ve chosen a card click through to the provider to complete the process and apply. If the provider accepts your application, they’ll set your credit limit and interest rate, and once you get the card in the post you’ll just need to activate it and it’ll be ready to use. 

Remember the rate advertised on the credit card may not be the one you get. This is because the APR only has to be offered to 51% of successful applicants. Your actual rate could be higher and will reflect your credit history and finances.

MoneySuperMarket is a credit broker not a lender. You must be 18 or over and a UK resident.

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