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.

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. Once the card is activated, 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.

1. 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. Your credit card issuer for security purposes 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.

2. Activate Your Credit Card Online

Activating your card online is a convenient option that doesn’t require dialing any numbers or listening to any automated menus. For example, Discover has an easy online option to activate your new card.

3. Activate It…or Lose It

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.

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.

Originally published January 19, 2017.

Updated August 31, 2021.

Legal Disclaimer: This site is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for professional advice. The material on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice and does not indicate the availability of any Discover product or service. It does not guarantee that Discover offers or endorses a product or service. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.