What does it mean when your credit card application is pending?

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One of the benefits of applying for credit cards online is the ability to know whether you’ve been approved or rejected within minutes — but in some cases, all you’ll learn is that your credit card application is “under review” or “pending.”

What does it mean when your credit card application is under review? Why do lenders occasionally need extra time to evaluate credit applications, and how long will you have to wait until they make their decision? Let’s take a close look at what happens when your credit card application is pending — and what you can do while you wait to hear back from the credit card company.

How long does it take to review a credit card application?

How long does it take to get approved for a credit card application? It depends. In many cases, when you apply for a credit card online you learn the status of your credit card application within minutes — and if your application has been accepted, you’re often able to make online purchases with your new credit card number right away. (It’ll still usually take 7 to 10 days for the physical credit card to arrive in the mail.)

However, credit card issuers sometimes need additional time to review a credit card application and make a final decision. This means that you may receive the message that your application is “pending” or “under review.” Many pending credit card applications are resolved within a few days, though it can take two weeks or more for some lenders to complete the review process.

Common reasons your application may be under review

Lenders occasionally need extra time to accept or decline a credit card application. Here are some of the most common reasons why your application might still be under review:

  • The information you included on your application might not match the information on your credit report. Maybe you accidentally mistyped your phone number, for example, or perhaps you recently moved and your credit report hasn’t yet updated to reflect your new address.
  • You recently applied for a lot of new credit. Lenders may want to investigate your recent credit inquiries to determine whether you might be planning to take on more debt than you can pay off.
  • The lender might suspect identity fraud. If there are discrepancies between your application and your credit report, or if you applied for multiple credit cards within a single day, a lender might wonder if someone else is trying to take out credit in your name.
  • The lender needs to verify your application. In some cases, lenders will contact you to verify the personal information or income information you included on your application.
  • The lender might be overwhelmed with applications. When a bank or credit card issuer releases a new credit card — especially if the credit card offers unique rewards or a popular sign-up bonus — they might receive more applications than they can process at once.

What to do if your application is pending

If your credit card application status is pending, the best thing you can do is be patient. Many banks and credit card issuers resolve pending credit card applications within a few days, though it can take a few weeks before some lenders are able to issue their final decisions. Here’s what you can do while you wait:

Watch the mail

Nearly all lenders send information about their application decisions through the mail, whether to congratulate you on your approval or explain why your credit card application was declined. Check your mailbox regularly to make sure you haven’t missed any letters.

Monitor your email

Your credit card application decision will often arrive by both postal mail and email — and in most cases, you’ll receive the email first. Keep an eye on your inbox, and don’t forget to check your spam folder.

Log into your online portal

If you already have an online account with the bank or lender in question, you might be able to log into your online portal to check on the status of your new credit application. Many credit card issuers also offer application status portals that allow you to check on your pending application.

Call customer service

If you’re still waiting to hear back on your application status, you can always contact customer service. Some credit card issuers have dedicated application status phone lines; otherwise, you can simply call the main customer service phone number.

How to check your credit card application status

Different credit card reviewers have different application processes, and different ways of allowing you to check your credit card application status. If you’re waiting on a credit card application decision, here’s how to check your status with some of the major credit card issuers:

American Express credit card application pending

You can check your Amex application status online — just enter your Social Security Number and your ZIP code, and American Express will pull up your Amex credit card application status. You can also contact American Express customer service at 1-800-528-4800.

Bank of America credit card application pending

You can check your Bank of America credit card status online by submitting your last name, date of birth, last four digits of your Social Security Number and ZIP code. If you want to check your Bank of America credit card application status over the phone, call the credit card customer service line at 1-800-732-9194 to ask about your Bank of America application status.

Capital One credit card application pending

You can check your Capital One credit card application status by calling Capital One’s application status line at 1-800-903-9177.

Chase credit card application pending

If you already have an online account with Chase, you can check your Chase credit card application status by logging into your account, opening the drop-down menu on your dashboard and selecting the “application status” option. You can also check your Chase credit card status by calling Chase customer service at 1-800-935-9935.

Credit One credit card application pending

You can check your Credit One application status online by entering your last name and your Social Security Number into the required fields. You can also check your Credit One status by calling Credit One’s application information line at 1-800-752-5493.

Discover credit card application pending

You can check your Discover application status online — as with American Express, you’ll need to provide your Social Security Number and your ZIP code. You can also check your Discover card status by calling Discover’s application status line at 1-800-347-3085.

Wells Fargo credit card application pending

Use the Wells Fargo application status portal to check your Wells Fargo credit card status. If you already have a Wells Fargo Online® account, you can use your username and password to log in. If not, you’ll need to enter your last name, date of birth, last four digits of your Social Security Number and the access code Wells Fargo sent to your email after you completed your credit card application.

You can also check your Wells Fargo status by calling one of Wells Fargo’s application status lines. If you applied for a Wells Fargo Visa credit card, call 1-800-967-9521. If you applied for a Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card, call 1-877-514-3717.

What is instant approval and how does it work?

Instant approval credit cards are exactly what they sound like — when you apply for an instant approval card, you’ll get your approval decision as soon as your application is completed. A bank or lender will take a quick look at your credit score and credit history before deciding whether to issue you an instant approval credit card.

Some instant approval credit cards are conditional, in the sense that a lender may revoke the approval decision after conducting a more thorough review of your credit. (This is a good time to remind you that being rejected for a credit card won’t hurt your credit score, although the recent inquiry will cause a small dip.) In some cases, lenders may not be able to provide an instant approval decision and may request additional information or verification. People with good or excellent credit have the best chance of getting approved for an instant approval credit card.

Easiest cards to get approved for

Some credit cards are more difficult to get approved for than others. Nearly all of today’s best credit cards, for example, are reserved for people with good or excellent credit. If you’re still in the process of building your credit, here are some of the easiest credit cards to get approved for:

These credit cards can help you build responsible credit habits, improve your credit history and work your way toward the kind of credit score that will help you become eligible for the best credit cards on the market — and as your credit score improves, you’ll probably receive fewer “application pending” notices and be more likely to get approved for the credit cards you want.