Published on January 6th, 2016 | by Chuck37
List of Credit Cards that Issue an Instant Card Number Upon Approval
A big expense comes up, and you want to use it as a way to meet a minimum spend…but you haven’t applied for the card yet.
Which credit card issuers will instantly issue the card number upon approval so that it can be used immediately for online purchases or at a vendor who is willing to accept the card number without a physical card?
Before breaking this issue down by card issuer, it’s important to bear in mind that getting the card number instantly will only happen if you get an automatic approval; if the application goes into pending and gets approved later, it’s unlikely that an agent will give you the card number over the phone.
Also, remember that many card issuers will expedite a new credit card, and it’s often possible to have the physical card at your doorstep in less than 48-hours, see Which Credit Card Issuers Offer Expedited Shipping? for more information.
- Any Amex card may get an instant card number
- Some co-branded Amex cards will get the card number only to be used at the co-brand location
The account number given out right away is the same number you’ll get in the mail, but the 4-digit code (and possibly expiration) is different. The system will ask you if you want a temporary number and will give it to you upon request.
Amex is the best about giving out card numbers instantly. In fact, they’ve even been known, occasionally, to give out hefty bonuses (automatically) if the system fails to offer the instant card number.
However, there isn’t a clear pattern as to when they do or don’t give out the account number right away. There are lots of conflicting data points, even for the exact same card, where sometimes they do offer the number and other times they don’t.
There are reports of just about every Amex card getting the account number instantly at the time of application (BCE, Everyday, SPG, Platinum, PRG, Delta, Hilton), and just as many reports indicating the reverse.
Also, some people report that for co-branded cards, they’ll issue the card number instantly for use only at the co-brand location. For example, the Hilton card only for use at Hilton, or the Delta card only for use at Delta.
Unclear if Amex business cards get this as well or if it’s limited to personal cards.
Bank of America
- Alaska Airlines card often gives an instant card number
The only BofA card that’s commonly reported to get an instant card number is the Alaska Airlines card. Many have gotten an instant card number for Alaska while some have not.
Others report that all Bank of America cards will sometimes get an instant card number upon approval.
- Barclaycard does not offer instant card numbers
I’ve never seen a report for Barclaycard to offer an instant number and it probably does not exist.
BBVA does not offer their card number instantly. However, I was told by a BBVA rep that it’s possible to get the card number by going into a physical branch and verifying your identity. This is very interesting for someone who applies right before the 5x promo and wants the card number right away for online purchases.
In practice, it’s reported that the folks at the branch won’t necessarily be willing to give out the card number.
Blispay 2% Card
Blispay gives out an instant card number to use until the physical card comes in the mail.
- Chase does not offer instant card numbers
I’ve never seen a report for Chase to offer an instant number and it probably does not exist.
Based on my conversation with a Citi rep, they’ll sometimes offer an instant card number for two cards:
- American Airlines
Regarding the latter, I assume the logic is due to the fact that the AT&T card is especially aimed at online shoppers, making the card number more important than the physical card.
- Discover does not offer instant card numbers
I’ve never seen a report for Discover to offer an instant number and it probably does not exist.
- Ebates credit card
- Paypal/eBay credit card will give a small credit line of $250, which can be used for Paypal purchases only (IIRC)
These two cards are known to give an instant number, probably because both are meant especially for online purchases.
USAA gives you an instant card number to use (card number, expiration, and 3-digit code). This has a maximum credit limit of $1,000 (increased when physical card arrives).
How it Works with Store Cards
Many stores offer their own branded credit card; either as a Visa/MC/Amex-issued card which can be used anywhere and more often they are for in-store use only.
When applying for a store credit card in-store or online, you’ll sometimes be able to use them immediately upon approval for that day’s purchases.
Even for future purchases, it may be possible to use it again in one of two ways:
- Some stores may offer you a temporary card number to use. Dick Sporting does this (heard from PF Digest), and I’ve heard Target does this with their REDcard.
- Some stores may allow you to use the card whenever you wish by verifying your personal info at the POS. Best Buy does this – if you don’t have your Best Buy store card handy, you input your info into the POS and make the purchase that way.
- Cabela’s issues instantly a physical card when getting approved for their credit card in store (1).
If you want to get a credit card number instantly, prominent options would be: any Amex card, Alaska from BofA, American or AT&T from Citi.
As with everything else in life, YMMV, you may not always have success getting the number instantly. As noted above, you’re only likely to get the card number right away when getting an instant approval. Also, a Citi rep told me, that there may be other security factors, such as IP address, which determine whether the system will offer the instant card number.
Please let us know if you’ve had other experiences in this realm and we’ll add it to the post.