Applying for a credit card

How do I apply for a credit card?

You can apply for a credit card through the vast number of providers that are available today, a list of major issuers is provided here. As previously mentioned, Visa and MasterCard solely use issuers, whereas American Express can issue cards directly themselves as well as through providers.

  • Direct mail – This had proven to be one of the best ways that credit card issuers can advertise and introduce their various types of cards to customers. However, you should be wary when applying for cards this way. Make sure that you also have information about all other cards available on the market, not just ones that are advertised to you through the post. There is also the matter of safety when sending your details through the post. As a result, if you do decide to apply for a card, try to do it over the phone.
  • Online secure sites – Make sure that these are actually secure as, once again, there is the issue of safety when sending your details this way.
  • Over the phone – If you decide to apply for a card through a credit card provider that is not a bank, this can be one of the safest and easiest ways of applying for a card. However, make sure that they send you full details of the terms and conditions before you sign the application.
  • Through your bank – This is probably the best option if applying for a credit card. Dealing with a bank will minimize the safety issues and, once the application process is over, the cards themselves will simply be an extension of your bank account.

How quickly can I use my credit card?

When you apply for a credit card, the issuer will straight away provide you with an ‘instant approval’ decision, naturally stating whether your application has been approved or declined. However, instant approval is really a conditional approval to placate the customer while the company obtains a full credit report (which typically takes a few days). Before you make an application for instant approval, it is advisable to find out what your credit rating/score is, so that you will have an idea about whether or not you will be accepted or declined for the application.

In general, you will have to wait up to 14 days before you actually get the physical card. Once you are provided with the card, additional identity validations need to take place which protect the bank and the cardholder from the threat of identity theft.

Some issuers will provide you with instant credit. This means that you are given a temporary credit card number so that you can immediately start purchasing online. This is actually not very popular, however, as there is a high risk of fraud.

Some shops will provide you with instant use of their cards, which is usually joined with the incentive of 10% on your first purchase, thus encouraging you to open the account.