How to Activate Your New Credit Card?

Once you’ve been approved for a new Visa or Mastercard credit card and you receive it in the mail before using it you’ll need to activate it. This activation process is required primarily due to fraud concerns and the card issuer wanting the cardholder to provide personal data in order to show they are the actual person trying to activate and use the card. Besides new card activation we also cover what happens if you don’t activate your credit card in our FAQ section.

Generally activating a new credit card is incredibly easy although it can vary depending on the issuer of the credit card whether it be Capital One, Chase Bank, Citi Bank, Bank of America, Barclays, American Express or even a smaller credit union. Regardless of the small differences in the credit card activation process, in general activation process is pretty much the same. In this article we have included a generic guide and tips for activating your new credit card.

So read on below to get your new card activated for use right away! Generally activation takes a few minutes and once activated you will be able to use your card immediately!

How to Activate a Credit Card Online or Over the Phone?

When you receive your new credit card their is almost always a sticker on the front of your card with an activation phone number and a webpage where you can go to activate your card. Generally online activation via the webpage is the fast and we usually suggest that people do this since you’re able to not only activate your card but register for online access to manage your account at the same time.

Online Credit Card Activation

If you’re wondering how to activate credit card without calling the online activation is definitely for you! Typically when you go to the activation page found on the sticker on the front of your new card you will need to enter the full card number, expiration date and 3 digit security code (or 4 digit security if you’re activating an AMEX card). Along with this you’ll typically need to include some identifying information such as your date of birth and social security number. This will obviously vary depending on which card you’re trying to activate since each bank has a slightly different process.

In the process of activating your new card card you’ll almost always be required to setup an online account so that you can manage your credit card account, check your recent purchases, make payments, setup autopay and more. You’ll need to follow the setups provided on the website after activating your card which will include choosing a login name and password.

This entire process of activating your credit card online and registering for an online account should only take a few minutes and once finished you’ll be able to enjoy all the benefits of your new cards purchasing power immediately!

Phone Credit Card Activation

In one sense phone activation can be easier since it typically on requires calling an automated activation line where you simply input the requested card info and personally identifying info discussed above but sometimes you are required to speak with a live person which can take longer. No to mention you will still need to go online to register for an online account to manage your new credit card.

Just call the number on found the sticker on the front of your card and follow the prompts, which may include entering your full 16 digit card number, card expiration date and 3 or 4 digit security code. After that you’ll typically need to enter some personally identifying information to prove that you’re the one trying to activate and use your card. This may include your date of birth and social security number.

*Note: Calling from the number you provided when you applied for the card can be helpful sometimes as these automated lines have a way of verifying the number from which you’re calling 


App Credit Card Activation

Some issuers allow new cardholders to activate their credit card by downloading their app. This process is just as simple as the other methods. Generally there is some sort of activation button to tap in the app and then you’ll have to enter the card information and personal information to get your card activated. This process usually also requires you to register for and setup an online account.


How Long Does it Take to Activate a Credit Card?

Typically it only takes a few minutes to activate a new credit card.

How Long After Activating a Credit Card Until I Can Use It?

Once activated you should be able to use your card immediately. If your card does not work when you try to make a purchase there may have been an issue with activating your card and you should call the number found on the back of your card.

How to Activate a Credit Card Online?

Just go to the URL found on the sticker on the front of your new card and follow the onscreen steps.

How Do I Know if My Card is Activated?

If you’ve gone through the activation process and gotten a confirmation that your is activated you can either call customer service to confirm that it is indeed activated or you can try to make a purchase. If your purchase goes through then you know your card has been activated.

Can I Activate My Credit Card Before it Arrives?

You typically cannot activate you credit card before it arrives although some card issuers will give you a temporary number to use until your new card arrives. In this case you will still need to activate your new card for use once it comes in the mail.

Can Someone Else Activate My Credit Card?

Unless someone else intercepts your card in the mail and has your personal information they cannot activate your credit card.

How Long Do You Have to Activate a Credit Card?

This can vary greatly depending on the issuer of the card. Your best bet is to activate your card within 45 days of receiving it in the mail.

What Happens if You Don’t Activate a Credit Card?

If you change your mind and no longer want your new credit card ignoring it is not a great solution. You’ve already applied for the card which includes a hard inquiry and small ding on your credit report so there’s nothing to salvage there. In some cases the issuer will automatically close your account if you do not activate your card.

However if you don’t activate your new card and you’re charged an annual fee without realizing it you will be subject to late fees and interest on that annual fee if don’t make on-time payments.


Conclusion to Activating a Credit Card

Activating a new credit card is an incredibly simple process that anyone should be able to complete in a few minutes. Just follow the steps above and call the number on the sticker found on the front of your new card or visit the webpage provided and follow the onscreen steps. Once your card is activated you’ll be able to begin using it immediately and start earning rewards!