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.”

Lenders occasionally need extra time to evaluate credit applications, but 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:

Issuer How to check application status
American Express Online

1-877-239-3491

Bank of America Online

1- 866-422-8089

Capital One 1-800-903-9177
Chase Log-in to your existing Chase account

1-888-338-2586

Discover Online

1-800-347-3085

Wells Fargo Online

1-800-967-9521

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.

The bottom line

Most credit card applications are likely to get processed within a couple of minutes, whether you apply online or on the phone. So it can be frustrating and confusing to see a “pending” status on a credit card application because an issuer needs more time to process your information. The best way to avoid a pending status is to provide complete and accurate information on your application. However, sometimes issuer investigations happen for reasons beyond your control. Whatever the reason, you should get a result within a few days, and you can always call or check online to follow up on the status of any pending applications.