Published on January 11th, 2020 | by Chuck129
List of Credit Cards that Issue an Instant Card Number Upon Approval (2020 Update)
[Post has been updated for 2020, American Express has had a positive change made. If you notice any errors or have additional information, please share it in the comments below.]
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 does not currently offer instant credit card numbers, it’s something they are currently looking into.
Update: American Express will now e-mail you a link where you can view your instant card number if requested. This means it can be viewed multiple times, unlike the previous method where you had to write it down. Hat tip to US Credit Cards 101
- 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 e-mail it to you on request (it e-mails a secure link where the card number can be viewed). 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, 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, Gold, 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.
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 add it to Apple Pay without even knowing the card number. Additionally, you can use Amex Checkout online at merchants who accept that form of payment.
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 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. (One reader was told that the card can only be used on Alaska Airlines purchases. I haven’t heard others mention that.)
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. The only exception is the Barclaycard Uber card: when you get instantly approved with an in-app application, the card will immediately show up for use in the Uber app (it still won’t be usable elsewhere since you’ll only see the last 4 digits).
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.
Blispay 2% Card
Blispay gives out an instant card number to use until the physical card comes in the mail.
After being approved you can see all of the card details in-app. However, some readers report only being able to see the last 4-digits which isn’t very too useful. Others are able to see the entire number and use the card immediately.
- Chase does not offer instant card numbers.
The only place we’ve seen Chase issue a card instantly is the Chase Starbucks card which instantly makes the new card available virtually, but only to load your Starbucks app, not for use elsewhere. Similarly, the Chase Amazon card becomes available instantly for use on Amazon only (1).
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. (See also this comment.)
- The Costco card can also get an instant card number, see Costco (below)
Costco Credit Card
The Costco credit card does get an instant card issued, only when you apply in a Costco store. They’ll print out a temporary card number/bar code right at the desk and you’ll be able to use that at checkout. (1)
- 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 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.
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.
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.
- 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 or 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 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).
US Bank does not ever issue instant credit card numbers, that I’m aware. (1)
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.
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.