Hector Molina, WalletHub Analyst
Yes, you can use a credit card before it arrives in the mail, but only with certain cards. If you want to use a credit card early, you must either have an American Express or Capital One credit card or one of a handful of other offers, including the Apple Card, and some store credit cards. Normally, you can’t use a credit card without restriction before it arrives, because you can’t see the full credit card number, expiration date and CVV until you have the card in hand.
Credit cards that you can use before arrival
- Cards from certain issuers: If you need to start using a credit card today, you’ll likely want to consider applying for an American Express credit card. Amex is one of the few card issuers that will give out a full card number that can be used anywhere upon approval of an application. Capital One credit cards are also sometimes available for immediate use via the Capital One mobile app. But not everyone is eligible for this feature.
- Co-branded cards: Some credit cards that you can use before the actual card arrives - like the Apple Card - only allow you to add the card to a merchant-specific digital wallet. So you’ll only be able to use it with that merchant until the card arrives in the mail.
- Some store cards: There are a few credit cards that you can use instantly after approval, like the Fingerhut Credit Card. But you can only use this card for purchases at Fingerhut.
Lastly, it’s worth noting that you can ask a credit card issuer for expedited card delivery – in some cases, this will get the card to you the next day. Finding a card that you can use before it arrives in the mail might seem less important with that in mind.
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Mike Daniels, Member
In most cases, you won't be able to use a credit card before it arrives and you will have to wait until you receive it in the mail. The best thing you can do is ask for expedited shipping, as some issuers offer it for free.
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Unfortunately, looks like this is not accurate. Amex does give you your full card number and temporary security code for online payments, but you cannot setup contactless payments in Google on your phone, at least not in my experience – I tried adding it, but it failed with an error, so I called Amex and they told me that there was no way, one needs to wait for the physical card to arrive in the mail before fully enabling it in Google Pay.