How to Activate Most New Credit Cards?

Once you’ve been approved for a new credit card and you receive it in the mail whether it be a Visa, Mastercard, Discover or Amex card before using it you’ll need to activate it.


Activating your new credit card is required primarily due to fraud concerns and card issuers needing to verify that the person who has received the card is the actual cardholder. Besides new card activation this guide also covers what happens if you don’t activate your credit card and a bunch of other common credit card activations questions in an FAQ section near the end.

Generally activating a new credit card is incredibly easy, although it can vary depending on the issuing bank whether it be Capital One, Chase Bank, Citi Bank, Bank of America, Barclays, American Express or even a smaller creditor or a credit union. Regardless of the differences in activating different credit cards, generally the activation process is pretty similar. In this article we have included a generic guide and also offered our tips (from experience) for activating your new credit card.

So, read on below to get your new card activated for use right away! Activation typically takes only a few minutes and once activated you should be able to use your card immediately!

How to Activate Your New Credit Card Online or Over the Phone?

When you receive your new credit card odds are you’ll find a sticker on the front of your card with a phone number to call to activate. The sticker will usually also have a webpage URL you can visit to activate your card. From our experience online activation is the fast and we typically suggest that people do this since you will not only be able activate your card but you can also register for online access at the same time, allowing you to manage and see all of your account activity.


Online Credit Card Activation

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

During the process of activating your new credit card you’ll almost always be required to setup online access so that you can manage your credit card account which includes being able to check your recent purchases, make payments, setup autopay, contact cardholder support and much more. You’ll need to follow the steps provided on the website either before or after activating your card which will should 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!

Credit Card Activation by Phone

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 security code. After that you’ll typically need to enter some personally identifying information to prove that you’re the actual cardholder. This may include your date of birth and the last 4 of your social security number.

In one sense phone activation can be easier since it typically only 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. Not to mention you will still need to go online to register for an online account to manage your new credit card.

*Note: Calling from the number you provided when you applied for the card can be helpful sometimes as often times the automated lines have a way of verifying the number from which you’re calling and thus verifying that the right person is indeed trying to activate your new credit card.


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 also typically requires you to register for and setup an online account, putting it on par with the online activation method discussed first.




How Long Does it Take to Activate a Credit Card?

It typically 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?

No, you typically cannot activate you credit card before it arrives although some card issuers may give you a temporary virtual card 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 since issuers often cancel cards that aren’t activated in this time frame.


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.

If you don’t activate your new credit 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 just a few short 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 enjoy all of its benefits including new purchasing power and the ability to earn rewards!