List of Credit Cards that Issue an Instant Card Number Upon Approval (2021 Update)

A big expense comes up, and you want to charge it on a credit card…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.

Alliant

Alliant does not currently offer instant credit card numbers, it’s something they are currently looking into.

American Express

  • Any Amex card can get an instant card number immediately upon approval. They even email you a link where you can continuously view your instant card number if you request one (1). You can also login and go to this link to get the instant card number after the fact (1).
  • Business cards more often don’t get the instant card number. (1, 2) Personal cards usually do.
  • Some co-branded Amex cards will get the card number only to be used at the co-brand location.

American Express won’t give you the temporary card number over the phone.

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, not everyone always sees the instant card number option, likely based on various security factors.

Another trick for using an Amex card before receiving the physical card is this: if the card shows up in your Amex app, you can try adding it to Apple Pay without even knowing the card number. (Seems they rolled out a feature specifically to allow the card to be added to Apple Pay immediately – I assume it’s found at the time of card approval an option to add to Apple Pay.) Additionally, you can use Amex Checkout online at merchants who accept that form of payment.

One additional thing to be aware of is that the instant card number has a lower credit limit than the the permanent card (1).

Important note: purchases made immediately after card approval might not be counted toward a spend requirement. You might need manual intervention to get it to count.

 

Apple – Goldman Sachs

The Apple credit card issued by Goldman Sachs gives you instant ability to use the card for purchases from within Apple Pay.

Bank of America

  • Alaska Airlines card and Air France/KLM card and Amtrak card often give an instant card number. However, some readers report that these temporary cards can only be used for purchases on that airline, not elsewhere.

All other cards typically do not get access to an instant card number. Occasionally it might be possible to add the card to your mobile wallet from within the Bank of America mobile app; this works specifically when applying for the card from within the Bank of America app (1, 2).

Barclaycard

  • Barclaycard does not offer instant card numbers.
  • Barclay airline cards offer an instant card number only for use within that airline.

Bilt

The Bilt Rewards card offers an instant card number upon approval which can be found in the app.

BBVA

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. In practice, it’s reported that the folks at the branch won’t necessarily be willing to give out the card number.

Capital One

Some report getting an instant card number from Capital One. Even if not, you should be able to get an instant card number after logging in on the web or in app (1, 2), but this might not work for everyone (1). You can also connect your Capital One card to PayPal via the login and use it that way (1).

Cardless

Cardless offers an instant card number upon approval. (1)

Chase

  • Chase generally does not offer instant card numbers.
  • You can add any Chase card to your mobile wallet like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, or Google Pay and use it instantly. (our original post on this)

A few specific cards:

  • The Chase Starbucks card instantly makes the new card available virtually, but only to load your Starbucks app, not for use elsewhere.
  • The Chase Amazon card becomes available instantly for use on Amazon (1). Again, you should be able to add it to your mobile wallet for use outside Amazon as well (1).
  • Other cobrands such as Southwest, Marriott, United, British, Disney might work for that specific partner.

Citi

You’ll sometimes be offered an instant card number for three cards:

  • Custom Cash (10% of your credit limit, subject to a minimum of $500 and a maximum of $1,000; usable for 10 days)
  • American Airlines
  • AT&T

Regarding the AT&T card, 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. (See also this comment.)

  • The Costco card can also get an instant card number, see Costco (below).

Costco Credit Card

The Costco card gets an instant card number when applying online (1), however, the card can only be used at Costco (1). When applying in-store you can also get a temporary card number/bar code right at the desk which you’ll be able to use that at checkout. (1)

Discover

  • 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.

Final

Final is a company that specializes in offering unique card numbers under one account. They also issue a card number instantly upon approval so you don’t need to wait for the physical card to come in the mail to start using it.

FNBO

A report that the MGM Resorts M life MasterCard gets printed out and issued instantly upon approval when you apply inside an MGM resort at the M life counter.

HSBC

HSBC will give you a credit card number after approval, unfortunately they don’t give you a CVV2 number or the expiry date so it’s largely useless.

Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU)

Reader Jason reports getting a virtual credit card number via email around 24 hours after approval from NFCU. Not sure if they always send this or it’s YMMV.

Paypal Business 2% Card

The Paypal Business Mastercard credit card gets an instant card number upon approval. (1)

SoFi

Most reports indicate SoFi is not offering an instant credit card number, but you can add it instantly to a mobile wallet and use that way. (1, 2)

Synchrony

  • Ebates credit card
  • Paypal/eBay 3/2/1 credit card will give a small credit line of $250, which can be used for Paypal purchases only (IIRC)
  • Paypal 2% cash back credit card will give an instant line of credit (probably a smaller one)

These two cards are known to give an instant number, probably because both are meant especially for online purchases.

USAA

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).

U.S. Bank

U.S. Bank does not typically offer instant card numbers; see this post for specific instances where they do. You can usually see the card number within the login shortly after approval (1); you might have to wait a day or two until after the card is activated.

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo does not offer the card number instantly.

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 often be able to use them immediately upon approval for that day’s purchases.

For future purchases as well it may be possible to use, even before getting the physical card:

  • 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. Same with Kohl’s.
  • Cabela’s issues instantly a physical card when getting approved for their credit card in store (1).
  • Walmart Capital One card is available instantly for use (1)
  • Also, check out this list from ProudMoney for a list of many store cards and whether they offer the ability to use instantly.

Conclusion

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.

It’s worth noting that with the emergence of mobile wallets, once you have the card number, you can add it to your mobile wallet and use it in stores as well. Please let us know if you’ve had other experiences in this realm and we’ll add it to the post.

Further Reading: (1, 2, 34, 5, 6, 78, 9)

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199 Comments
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adam
adam (@guest_1820594)
March 27, 2024 11:41

Applied for Capital one venture with existing cap 1 account. Could not access a virtual card number and shipping says 7-10 business days.

sybloc
sybloc (@guest_1808618)
March 5, 2024 20:33

Any recent datapoints on which cards are issuing instant numbers?

DrDoctor
DrDoctor (@guest_1740399)
November 20, 2023 11:27

I could use the BoA Alaska CC’s instant number for an Amazon purchase, not only through Alaska Airlines.

Tyler
Tyler (@guest_1568817)
March 4, 2023 11:12

Just approved for citi AA biz card, but I didn’t get the instant number…devastated bc I have to do a $2K+ AA flight purchase.

austin
austin (@guest_1562712)
February 23, 2023 18:05

just approved for citi AA biz card. got an instant temporary number, which said was good for travel purchases. previous commenter said it worked on AA only, however I was able to use the number on an airbnb purchase. for good measure i tested it on another non-travel purchase and it did not work.

austin
austin (@guest_1566652)
March 1, 2023 19:01

follow up, i was able to use it to book a hilton hotel too. just checked in using the mobile app and it worked.

Curmudgeon
Curmudgeon (@guest_1555046)
February 12, 2023 03:47

Got the Amex Gold yesterday. Tried to get instant number but got a page that said system was unavailable at that moment, and had a button to send email with details on getting instant number. That showed up maybe 15 minutes later. Clicked on that, logged in and got an error message that said you don’t qualify for an instant number. Calling customer service was a huge waste of time as they had no idea what to do. They couldn’t (or wouldn’t) even expedite the card.
Guess I have to wait until it shows up.

rw
rw (@guest_1520125)
December 27, 2022 15:47

Got an instant number for Business Platinum, and was able to do some of the initial online enrollment stuff, but still can’t add to my account online, I was just looking to set the airline fee airline..

usernamechuck
usernamechuck (@guest_1484841)
November 10, 2022 03:21

Amex issued an instant number for my Biz Gold – though it seems kind of f’d up, won’t let me add to my account online.

DWT
DWT (@guest_1463233)
October 12, 2022 09:00

For the WF/Bilt card- the card can also be added to ApplePay immediately upon approval. (But many have reported that if you use ApplePay before your physical card arrives, WF fraud will call you to double check it was you)

20201103
20201103 (@guest_1460621)
October 8, 2022 06:46

US Bank Connect card shows full details upon approval, and card is usable online immediately (part CL available).