1. Home
  2. Credit cards
  3. What To Know When Activating A New Or Replacement Credit Card
Published June 20, 2023
Reading Time
5 minutes

What To Know When Activating A New Or Replacement Credit Card

Activating a new credit card? Learn how to activate a new or replacement card, and understand common steps for CommBank, ANZ, NAB and Westpac cards.

Edited By

Banks don’t give consumers any schooling in credit cards. Most people learn how to use these cards when they get their first credit card. Credit cards don’t come with a how-to guide or a personal banker teaching you what to do.

One in three Australians doesn’t know their credit card interest rate. Nearly 20% of consumers struggle to pay down their credit card debt. These are the macro issues of the lack of financial literacy relating to what credit cards are and how they work. The many small details of card usage also aren’t communicated. For example, when and how to activate a credit card. 

It’s important to plan to avoid interruptions with your access to credit. This is the guide you were never given about credit cards. 

What does it mean to activate a new card? 

Once you’ve applied for a credit card and signed up for the card online, on the phone or in a branch, the bank will mail you the card. Your new card will likely come with an introduction letter and instructions on activating it. 

No matter which bank you’re with, You’ll need to activate the card no matter which bank you use. It’s a necessary security measure that ensures the rightful owner received the card. 

To activate the card to use it, you need to sign into your online banking — which requires a username and password. The card can’t be activated if it was sent to the wrong address or, for some reason, didn’t make it to you. 

Regardless of the type of credit card, the activation process is more or less the same. Also, credit and debit cards need to be activated before you can use them. 

How to activate a new credit card in seconds  

The two most convenient ways of activating your card are through the online banking mobile app or the browser version of online banking. It’s a simple process that generally takes less than a minute: 

To activate your new card: 

  1. Log into your online banking (app or browser),
  2. Navigate to ‘Activate Card’,
  3. Enter the card details.

That’s it! If you’re a new customer, you’ll also have to set up a personal identification number, commonly called a ‘PIN’. 

If you use Apple Pay, add or update the new card details in the iPhone Wallet app. For security precautions, you’ll be asked to verify your identity before you input the new card. Make sure to delete any old, expired cards from your Wallet. 

Always check your bank for specific activation steps for physical and digital cards. 

Steps for cards from the Big Four 

The general steps to activate a new card may differ slightly depending on the issuer. For example, here’s how to activate a new card from one of Australia’s Big Four banks. 

Activate a CommBank card 

  1. Log into the CommBank app,
  2. Navigate to ‘Cards’ and swipe to select yours,
  3. Click on ‘Activate Card’,
  4. Enter your CommBank App PIN, followed by the last four digits of your new card, 
  5. Enter and confirm your new card PIN, then press ‘Submit’. 

You can also go through the NetBank app if registered for NetCode. In your NetBank dashboard, select ‘Settings’, then ‘Credit Card Activation’. Enter the last four digits of the card, followed by your PIN. Request to ‘Get Code’, which will get sent to your phone to complete activation. 

Always read the fine print; CommBank says not all replacement cards need to be activated. 

Activate a Westpac card 

If you’re using the Westpac app: 

  1. Click on ‘Cards’,
  2. Navigate to ‘Activate Card’,
  3. Enter the new card number,
  4. Tap ‘Activate’,
  5. Once activated, you can change your PIN (if required). 

If you’re in the Westpac browser, click on Services in the dropdown menu, then Activate Card under Card Services. Enter the card number and expiry date, then Activate. 

Activate a NAB card 

The NAB verification follows the same sequence but with an SMS security code step to finalise the new card. You’re good to go as soon as you see ‘your card has been successfully activated’. 

Activate an ANZ card 

The ANZ activation can also be done through the app or Internet banking. The difference, however, with the app is that you can activate the card by scanning it with your phone camera and inputting the number. 

Alternative ways for cardholders to activate new cards include calling the bank and doing it over the phone or visiting a local branch. 

When to activate a credit card 

Credit and debit card expiration dates only list the month and year, not the day — making it hard to know when to complete the activation. There won’t be any issues as long as you do it in the month it’s due to expire. Once you’ve received and activated your new card (with a confirmation), you should cut up your previous expired one. 

What happens if you don’t activate it? If it’s a card that requires activation (most will), you won’t be able to use it until you go through the verification process. 

How long do you have to activate a new credit card? Again, this depends on your bank, but Westpac, for example, gives customers 45 days. The credit will remain open as long as the customer has viewed the Digital Card details in mobile banking. 

Once the old credit card has expired, you can’t use it, even if the new one isn’t activated. 

Keep it safe: Prioritise PIN security 

All credit and debit cards use a PIN to authorise payments rather than checking the signature. While your existing PIN applies to replacement cards, use the opportunity to protect yourself and update the PIN. It’s smart to do this incrementally to increase security. Consider creating a new PIN and online banking password. 

Your new card will work with your old PIN until you change it. 

Credit and debit cards expire every three to five years. Your bank will automatically send you a new card, so you won’t have to order it. Keep an eye on the expiration month and year to know when to expect it. Check that your contact details and mailing address are up to date with your bank. When it comes to personal finance matters, it pays to be proactive. 


Credit Card Fees: What They Are And How To Avoid Them

Credit Card Fees: What They Are And How To Avoid Them

Credit card fees can vary among providers. Find which charges are inescapable and which ones you can avoid.

Understanding How Credit Card Interest-Free Periods Work

Understanding How Credit Card Interest-Free Periods Work

Learn how to leverage your credit card, without paying interest.

What Is A Credit Card Minimum Payment?

What Is A Credit Card Minimum Payment?

A credit card minimum payment is the minimum amount owed on your credit card statement’s closing balance. It’s typically 2% of the debt owed.

What to Know About Your Credit Card Limit

What to Know About Your Credit Card Limit

A credit limit is the maximum amount of money you can spend on your credit card.

Back To Top