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How to Activate a Credit Card

Last Updated: June 7, 2022
3 min read

Let’s Learn About: Activating a Credit Card

  1. Activating your credit card is important to its functionality, as it is protecting you from fraud or theft.

  2. You can easily activate your credit card over the phone by calling a card issuer’s customer service number.

  3. You can just as easily activate your credit card online through mobile apps and/or dedicated online portals.

Receiving a new credit card is a regular part of the process of opening a new credit card account or renewing your existing card. But once you get that new card in the mail, you need to activate it so you can start using it to make purchases.

But how do you activate a credit card? There are several ways to do it, with a few unique advantages to each.

Why you have to activate your credit card

Activating your new card lets your bank or credit card issuer know that you have received the card and that it is in the hands of the correct person; this is a way to help prevent credit card fraud.

Minimally, this means you’ll need your date of birth and the last four digits of your social security number ready at the time of verification, as well as the information printed on your card, to verify you’re the person who both applied for and received your card after it was shipped out.

If somehow you do not get around to activating your credit card, this could be a problem. Some credit card companies will automatically cancel your card if it is not activated within a few months of being issued.

Other card issuers may keep your account open but you may be charged fees. One certainty you can have though is that, unless otherwise stated by your card issuer, using your credit card before activating it will result in your transaction being declined.

How to activate your credit card by phone 

One of the easiest ways to activate your credit card is by calling the number printed on the sticker attached to the front of your card, or it might have been printed in the letter the card came with.

Be careful, though, with which phone you call from. For security purposes, your credit card issuer may prefer to have you activate your card from the phone number you’ve associated with your account. If you call to activate your card from a different number — such as your work phone, for example — you may need to provide additional information to verify your identity before the issuer will activate your card.

How to activate your credit card without calling the bank

Activating your card online is a convenient option that doesn’t require dialing any numbers or listening to any automated menus. While some card issuers allow you to activate your card through a mobile app, the majority of credit card issuers have online portals that allow you to easily activate your card without calling the bank. For example, Discover has an easy online option to activate your new card.

Activating your credit card is meant to be a convenient, seamless process. Your credit card company just wants to know that the card has made it into the right hands. Once you receive that new credit card in the mail, activate it as soon as possible so you can begin using it.

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