- In most cases, when you apply for a rewards credit card and are approved, you won’t be able to start using it until your physical card arrives in the mail.
- However, there are some exceptions. You can get your card number right away with American Express cards, as well as with the Apple Card and certain cards from Citi.
- Getting instant access to your credit card number can come in handy if you need to make a time-sensitive purchase, or if you want to start working toward the minimum spending requirement to earn the card’s sign-up bonus.
- If you want to earn a credit card sign-up bonus, signing up for a card that offers you your instant number before the holidays would let you put your Black Friday and Cyber Monday spending toward the minimum spending requirement to earn points or cash back.
- Read more personal finance coverage.
It’s 2019, and sometimes I forget that not everything is instantly available. It’s a pretty classic modern “problem” for me to order something online and then grumble about two-day shipping, or settle into a new coffee shop only to find out that the internet is down, or worse yet, never existed in the first place.
By that same logic, it’s almost surprising that not every credit card offers you your card number immediately. Why do I need to wait for my physical card when I know that I’ve already been approved — couldn’t I just have the number and go for it?
As it turns out, some rewards credit cards do offer instant numbers. This means that you won’t have to wait for your card to arrive in order to use it, which is ideal for emergency situations and time-sensitive purchases. Plus, if you want to start putting your spending toward the minimum spending requirement to earn the card’s sign-up bonus, this lets you get started immediately.
Not every credit card issuer does this though, so it’s important to know who does. Here are a few that do, and equally as important, a few that don’t.
Credit card issuers that don’t offer instant numbers
If you want to get your credit card number right away, don’t go applying to cards from the following issuers:
- Wells Fargo
These credit card issuers don’t offer numbers upon approval and won’t disclose card information until your physical card arrives in the mail.
Credit cards that do offer instant numbers
However, there are quite a few cards — and one issuer — that do offer numbers on approval. Many of them are associated with store accounts as well as airline and hotel rewards programs.
American Express cards
American Express is probably your best bet for finding a card that offers an instant number. In fact, it doesn’t matter which American Express card you’re looking for; you’ll instantly receive your number upon approval no matter which card you just opened.
It is worth mentioning at least one solid partnership. One major US partner is Delta, which offers a variety of cards co-branded with American Express. These include:
- Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
- Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
- Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express
These cards are ideal for building a direct stockpile of Delta SkyMiles with everyday purchases, and they’re getting updates in 2020, in some case adding new bonus categories.
However, standard Amex cards within the Amex Membership Rewards program can interface with even more airlines (Emirates, Etihad, Singapore) as well as Hilton and Marriott. So if you’re not sold on Delta and would like more flexibility with your points redemptions, earning Membership Rewards points directly through Amex and transferring to your desired points currency later might be a better bet.
Here are some of the top cards that earn American Express Membership Rewards points:
- American Express® Green Card — $150 annual fee; read the Amex Green card review
- American Express® Gold Card — $250 annual fee; read the Amex Gold card review
- The Platinum Card® from American Express — $550 annual fee; read the Amex Platinum card review
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card
Not only will you have the ability to earn and redeem Alaska MileagePlan miles with this card, but it’s also one of the only Bank of America cards that gives you your card number upon approval.
Right now, this card is offering a pretty sweet sign-up bonus of 40,000 miles and a companion fare (for $99 plus taxes and fees from $22) after spending at least $2,000 on purchases within the first 90 days of your account opening, which means having your account number right away could help you get a jump-start on meeting that minimum spending requirement.
Citi/AAdvantage cards and the AT&T Access card
Citi offers credit card numbers on approval with American Airlines and AT&T cards.
American Airlines AAdvantage co-branded with Citi span the spectrum of card types from basic personal accounts with no annual fee to premium business cards. You can currently earn anywhere from 10,000 to 70,000 bonus AAdvantage miles after qualifying purchases, depending on the card you select.
Top Citi/AAdvantage cards include:
- American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card — No annual fee
- Citi®/AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® — $99 annual fee (waived for the first 12 months)
- CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® — $99 annual fee (waived for the first 12 months)
- Citi®/AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® — $450 annual fee (and Admirals Club airport lounge membership)
Citi’s AT&T Access card also offers you your card number upon approval. It currently offers a sign-up bonus of 10,000 Citi ThankYou points after you make $1,000 in purchases within the first three months of your account opening.
The Apple Card
Given that you apply for the Apple Card directly on your iPhone, it’s not a surprise that you’re given your card number as soon as you’re approved. In fact, your physical Apple Card won’t even include the card number; it lives exclusively in the Wallet app on your phone.
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As you can see, many of the cards that offer an instant number upon approval are linked to airline rewards programs or stores/services. This makes sense; the faster the customer has access to a card number, the faster the customer can make target purchases to earn points and build loyalty. Luckily for consumers, this attention and immediacy is an aspect of our credit-based economy that can benefit us as long as we use it responsibly.
With that in mind, we should approach the idea of instant credit lines cautiously and intelligently; never accept offers you can’t reasonably afford in the long term, and always use that convenient auto pay feature to make sure you stay on top of your bills.
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