Getting a credit card in the mail can take four to ten business days. You can get confirmation of credit card approval quickly — sometimes within 60 seconds — but formal approval typically takes a couple of days to a few weeks.
Process of getting a credit card
Applying for a credit card is a relatively straightforward process that shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes to complete an online application.
Start by doing your due diligence to choose the most suitable type of credit card for your needs. After factoring in the annual interest rate for purchases and cash advances, fees, rewards and so on, you can go ahead and apply.
Before you get ready to do your application, you’ll need certain information. That includes income, employment details, payslips or your most recent tax return, which you can scan and send online or take to a branch for verification. You’ll also need a breakdown of your assets and debts, general monthly living expenses and credit score.
How long does credit card approval take?
The largest card providers in Australia are the Big Four banks — the CommBank, Westpac, National Australia Bank and ANZ — and American Express. They all offer ‘instant’ approval, meaning you can get a decision within 60 seconds of you submitting your online application.
If they are happy with the information you’ve provided, they will give you provisional approval. This means they have accepted your application subject to your verified information.
The provider may take a few days to a couple of weeks to offer formal approval. They may contact you for additional information regarding your income, debts and expenses during this time. If you have no credit history, they may want to verify more details.
They may also reject your application during that period. If they do, they have a legal obligation to explain why they made their decision. Rejection could be due to insufficient income, too large of a debt burden or poor credit history.
How quickly will I receive my new credit card?
If your application is successful, you will receive your new card in the mail. It’ll come with a welcome pack containing helpful information about the card.
The time it takes to arrive will differ depending on the provider. For example:
- CommBank takes up to seven business days to send out a card
- Westpac takes four to six business days
- ANZ takes five to 10 business days
- NAB promises delivery within five working days
- American Express takes five to seven business days to deliver a card.
Once your card arrives in the mail, you can activate it through your card provider’s online banking webpage or app.
How to speed up the process
You don’t necessarily have to wait for the physical card to start using your new credit card. Digital wallets and virtual card options can help speed up the process.
Virtual cardsSome providers have digital versions or virtual card options with a number specially generated for one-off transactions. They also offer instant virtual credit cards to use before the physical card arrives in the mail. These come with a digital copy of the card number, the CVV and the expiry date and can be used for online or over-the-phone purchases or in digital wallets.
As a first-time cardholder, you may have to wait for the physical card before activating it. In the meantime, contact your provider if you need to use the card to order something online or book concert tickets, for example.
The big four banks currently have limited offerings for virtual cards:
- Westpac offers a Flex Card, a digital-first card that allows you to transact online, over the phone or through a digital wallet. It also gives you the option of receiving a physical card or not. The card offers all the features of a standard Mastercard, which you can use once your application is approved.
- CommBank currently only offers virtual cards for business transactions.
- NAB has virtual payments for business expenses.
- ANZ also provides virtual cards for business transactions.
There are other virtual card providers outside the big four banks currently operating in Australia that can process first-time applications faster. These include Bankwest, Bendigo Bank, Latitude Financial Services and MoneyMe.
How long does it take to receive a replacement card?
If your card is lost or stolen, you’ll need a replacement as quickly and painlessly as possible. If you believe someone stole your card, you need to notify your provider as soon as possible so they can place a block on the card to prevent it from being used.
As with the first card issued to you by that provider, the timeframes for delivery will differ between providers. ANZ and NAB will replace your card within five to seven working days, whereas Westpac will mail you your replacement card within four business days (metro) and six business days (regional).
Visa, Mastercard and American Express — the three major card networks operating in Australia — all offer emergency services. So, instead of going through your provider, you can contact the card network directly. They will notify your provider and work with them to get your replacement card up and running, hopefully within an emergency timeframe.
- Visa will work with your provider to ship your new credit or debit card within 24-72 hours.
- Mastercard provides emergency cash and card replacement services, both locally and internationally.
- American Express can provide a new card within two business days.
Most providers working with the card networks will have some emergency provision. As explained above, these will help you access funds or use a credit card facility for other functions while waiting for your replacement card, such as a one-off virtual transaction.