Credit cards that offer instant card numbers upon approval

Feb 14, 2021

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with current credit card information. 


Unless you’ve got a high number of recent credit card inquiries, issuers will typically give you an instant response when you apply for a card. You can always call and ask to be reconsidered if you’re initially declined.

Instant access to your new card number allows you to begin maximizing your purchases to meet the minimum spending requirement of a card’s welcome bonus. After all, the clock on sign-up bonuses starts the day your account is approved — not on your statement closing date or when your card is activated. Let’s take a look at the major credit card issuers to see which ones offer instant card numbers upon approval.

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Credit cards that offer instant card numbers

The information for the Alaska Airlines Visa, the Hilton Aspire Amex, the Uber Visa, Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card, and Apple card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

In This Post

American Express

American Express always provides your new account number immediately after approval of your online application, assuming they are able to verify your identity. Previously, you needed to take a screenshot or write down your card number right away, since you weren’t able to request it again later. However, some reports suggest that American Express may also email you a link so you can view your instant card number, if requested.

The number will be the same as the physical card you’ll get in the mail, but the Amex four-digit card identification number on the front of the card will be different, so you might want to hold off on using it for recurring payments. Note that instant card numbers of some cobranded cards may only be used with the cobranded company.

In addition to instant numbers for new cardholders, Amex gives existing cardholders access to their card information when ordering replacement cards.

Related reading: Choosing the best American Express card for you

Amex instant card number
(Screenshot courtesy of American Express)

Even if you’re not interested in getting your card number right away, you should still request it when prompted by the system. There have been numerous instances when Amex’s system was unable to issue card numbers. If that happens to you, Amex may give you a statement credit to compensate.

Here are a few popular Amex cards that offer instant card numbers:

The Platinum Card from American Express

Photo by Eric Helgas
The Amex Platinum provides access to airport lounges before your physical card arrives. (Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

Welcome bonus: Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first six months of account opening.

Earning rates: 5x points on flights booked directly with the airlines or through Amex Travel (up to $500,000 on these purchases each calendar year); 5x points on prepaid hotels booked through Amex; 10x points on eligible purchases on your new card at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first six months of card membership; and 1x on everything else.

Annual fee: $550 (see rates and fees)

Why we like it: In addition to offering one of the best returns on flight and hotel bookings, the Amex Platinum provides access to the largest number and variety of airport lounges. You can use a screenshot of your card number to gain instant access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, which includes Centurion Lounges and Delta Sky Clubs, before your physical card arrives. The card also provides automatic elite status with Hilton and Marriott, which you can try to activate before your card arrives. Other benefits include annual credits for incidental fees on airlines, for Uber trips and for Saks Fifth Avenue purchases, as well as trip cancellation/interruption and trip delay insurance.

Read TPG’s Amex Platinum review.

Apply here: The Platinum Card from American Express

American Express Gold Card

Start using your dining credit right away. (Photo by The Points Guy)

Welcome bonus: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first six months of account opening.

Earning rates: 4x points on dining worldwide and at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year, then 1x points per dollar spent), 3x points on flights purchased directly with the airline or at amextravel.com, and 1x points per dollar spent everywhere else.

Annual fee: $250 (see rates and fees)

Why we like it: The Amex Gold offers up to $120 annually in dining credits that you can instantly use at merchants such as Boxed, Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory and participating Shake Shack locations. Plus, cardholders now get up to $120 annually in Uber Cash ($10 monthly credit), which can be used toward Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S. The card must be added to the Uber app to receive this benefit. The 4x earning rate on dining equals a terrific 8% return on spending based on TPG valuations.

Read TPG’s American Express Gold review.

Apply here: American Express Gold Card

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card

Enjoy the perks of Hilton Gold status before your physical card arrives. (Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Welcome bonus: Earn 150,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn a $150 statement credit after your first purchase within your first three months.

Earning rates: 12x points on eligible purchases at Hilton properties, 6x points at U.S. restaurants and U.S. gas stations, and 3x points on all other eligible purchases.

Annual fee: $95 (see rates and fees)

Why we like it: The card offers a slew of benefits, with the most notable being automatic Hilton Gold status, which automatically activates a few hours after you’re approved. Hilton Gold status is among the most valuable mid-tier hotel statuses out there, getting you an 80% points bonus, a fifth night free on award stays, space-available upgrades, free breakfast and more. Plus, you have the ability to upgrade to Diamond status by spending $40,000 in eligible purchases in a calendar year. Other benefits include a weekend night certificate valid at nearly any Hilton property when you spend $15,000 on the card in a calendar year and 10 complimentary Priority Pass lounge visits a year.

Read TPG’s Hilton Amex Surpass card review.

Apply here: Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card

Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card

(Photo courtesy of Delta)
You can use your Delta SkyMiles Gold Amex to book a flight immediately after approval. (Photo courtesy of Delta)

Welcome bonus: Earn 35,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months.

Earning rates: 2x miles per dollar spent on eligible Delta purchases and at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets, and 1x miles per dollar spent everywhere else.

Annual fee: $99, waived the first year (see rates and fees)

Why we like it: This card provides casual Delta flyers elite-like benefits, such as a free checked bag and priority boarding on Delta flights. You can use your instant card number to book Delta flights right away and begin to take advantage of these benefits before your physical card arrives by adding your Delta SkyMiles number to your reservations.

Read TPG’s Delta SkyMiles Gold Amex Card review.

Apply here: Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card

Bank of America

As reported by Doctor Of Credit and Crediful, the only Bank of America card that consistently offers an instant card number is the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card. There have been some reports of other cards offering instant card numbers, but it’s more sporadic and I wouldn’t count on it.

Related reading: The best Bank of America credit cards

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
The Alaska Airlines card is Bank of America’s only card to consistently offer instant card numbers. (Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 miles and Alaska’s companion fare from $121 ($99 fare, plus taxes and fees from $22), after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

Earning rates: 3x miles per dollar spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases, and 1x miles per dollar spent everywhere else.

Annual fee: $75

Why we like it: The card is currently offering a great limited-time sign-up bonus, and since you’ll get your card number upon approval, you should be able to begin meeting the spending requirement right away. Besides offering some of the most valuable airline miles around, you get your first checked bag free, 50% off Alaska Lounge day passes and the companion fare from $121 each year after your account anniversary.

Read TPG’s Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card review.

Barclays

(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

Barclays never offers instant card numbers. People that applied for the Uber Visa Card directly through the Uber app were able to start using it immediately to pay for Uber purchases, but the card isn’t accepting new applicants at the moment.

The information for the Uber Visa card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Read TPG’s Uber credit card review.

Capital One

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

The issuer of cards such as the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card used to allow instant access to your card number and expiration date through the app, but no longer offers this service.

The information for the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related reading: The best Capital One credit cards

Chase

Although Chase often gives you an instant decision on whether or not you’ve been approved, it will never issue card numbers before your physical card arrives.

Related reading: Maximize your wallet with the perfect quartet of Chase cards

Citi

As with Bank of America, Citi has some cobranded cards that issue instant card numbers. According to Doctor Of Credit, these include the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard. Citi will issue a temporary card for the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi, but only if you apply in person at a Costco location, and you’ll only be able use it in the store. ThankYou Rewards-earning cards such as the Citi Premier® Card don’t offer instant card numbers.

Related reading: The best Citi credit cards

Citi / Advantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
The Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select offers instant card numbers. (Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 miles after you spend $2,500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

Earning rates: 2x miles per dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases, restaurants and gas stations, and 1x miles per dollar spent on everything else.

Annual fee: $99, waived the first year

Why we like it: The card earns bonus miles across multiple categories and provides a few elite-type perks such as a free checked bag, inflight discounts and priority boarding. If you spend $20,000 in a calendar year and renew the card, you’ll also get a $125 American Airlines flight discount.

Read TPG’s Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select review.

Discover

As with Barclays and Chase, Discover often gives you an instant decision on whether you’ve been approved, but it will never issue card numbers before your physical card arrives.

Goldman Sachs (Apple Card)

Titanium is one of the more exciting features of the new Apple Card, but you don’t need to wait for the physical card to arrive so you can use it. The card is available through Apple Pay immediately after being approved. In fact, having a physical card is completely optional.

Apple Card

The Apple Card provides Daily Cash right after each purchase. (Photo by John Gribben/The Points Guy)

Sign-up bonus: None.

Earning rates: 3% cash back on Apple, T-Mobile, Nike, Uber (including Uber Eats), Nike and Walgreens (including Duane Reade) purchases; 2% cash back on all Apple Pay purchases; and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Annual fee: $0

Why we like it: You can use the card to make purchases right away and the cash-back rewards are available right after each purchase.

Read TPG’s Apple Card review.

Apply here: Apple Card

FAQs

What is an instant approval credit card and how does it work?

As soon as you apply for a credit card, your application is processed by a computer and you’ll typically receive one of three responses: immediate approval, some form of “pending” status or flat-out denial. Receiving instant approval doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be able to begin using the card immediately. If you receive instant approval, you may be presented with the option to view your card number right away; otherwise, you’ll need to wait until your physical card arrives in the mail before you can begin using it.

How long does it take for me to get my credit card?

It usually takes five to seven business days to get a new credit card after being approved. However, that time frame can vary depending on the card and issuer. For instance, American Express always uses overnight shipping for the Amex Platinum. Some issuers offer expedited shipping on request, but there’s no guarantee.

What is the difference between pre-qualified and pre-approved offers?

The terms pre-qualified and pre-approved are similar and sometimes even used interchangeably. They both help you figure out which cards you are most likely to be approved for and find targeted offers that aren’t available to every applicant. Neither a pre-qualified nor a pre-approved offer counts as a guaranteed approval for a card. Pre-qualified offers tend to require a less-extensive check, meanwhile, pre-approved offers typically require you to provide additional personal information or have a financial history with the issuer. A pre-qualified offer is based on what’s called a soft pull on your credit report and will not affect your credit score, but if you initiate a bank’s pre-approval process, it may result in a hard pull on your account.

Related reading: How to find the best pre-qualified credit card offers

Bottom line

Some issuers offer expedited shipping for your new card, but in most cases you’ll have to wait around a week for your new piece of plastic (or metal) to arrive in the mail. Having instant access to your new card number can make a big difference. If you’re in immediate need of a new credit card, you can usually depend on American Express to offer an instant card number, though there are some other issuers that will do so as well.

Featured photo by Prykhodov/Getty Images.

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Surpass Amex, click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles Gold card, please click here.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.