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Account management

How to activate your credit card

Each issuer has its own process, from activating online to making a phone call or using an app


Once you get a new credit card you have to activate it before you use it. Here’s how to activate a credit card from a major issuer.

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If you’ve ever received a new credit card and tried to use it but have been told it’s not working, you might have forgotten one important step – to activate it.

Once you get your card, you must activate it in order to use it.

Different issuers offer cardholders various ways to activate their credit cards, but you can typically get it done via a phone call or online.

Read on to find out what information you’ll need to activate your card, then locate your issuer and get the specifics.

See related: How do credit cards work?

You’ll need to give personal information to activate your card 

When you’re ready to activate your credit card, you’ll need to provide information, including some personal data.

You will generally need the following information to complete your activation:

Once you’ve gathered your information, you’re good to go – whether you choose to activate online, via phone or through an app.

How to activate your card online

To activate your card online, go to the website that is provided either on a sticker on the card or in the information packet you received with it.

Fill out whatever information the website asks for regarding the credit card and click “submit.”

Typically you will receive a confirmation that the card is activated – if you do not, just call the company to confirm.

Sign the back of your new card, and you’re all set.

How to activate your card by phone

If you choose to call your issuer to activate your card, the process is simple and takes only a few minutes.

To make things easier, call from the phone number you gave on the application.

Every issuer’s process is fairly similar – you will be asked for some or all of the information listed above, and once you provide it you will receive confirmation that your card is ready to use.

Just sign the back of it and start spending.

How to activate your card via an app

Many issuers also allow cardholders to activate cards via an app on their smartphones. 

First, download the app from Google Play (for Android) or the App Store (for iPhone).

Use your phone’s camera to scan your card when the app prompts you.

Enter any other information the app asks for and you’re done.

Once again, make sure you sign the back of your card before you put it in your wallet.

Now that you know what to expect when you use these three methods, locate your issuer below to find out the ways it enables customers to activate. 

See related: How long does it take to get a credit card?

How to activate your American Express card

You have three choices to activate your American Express credit card:

  • Visit the Amex website and enter your information as the prompts come up.
  • Call the number on the back of your card (800-869-3016) and provide the customer service rep with the necessary information.
  • Download and use the American Express app from the App Store (for iPhones) or Google Play (for Androids).

How to activate your Apple Card

Because the Apple Card does not have any numbers, CVV, expiration date or signature on it, you must activate it via your Wallet. Here’s how:

  • If you have an iPhone XS or XS Max, iPhone XR or later model, all you need to do is open the new card, wake up your iPhone and follow the prompts inside your Wallet, then tap “Activate.”
  • If you have an iPhone X or earlier model, open your Wallet, tap “Apple Card,” then tap “Activate,” then follow the instructions in your card holder.
  • If you threw away the packaging, open your Wallet and tap “Apple Card,” then tap the “more” button. Tap “Activate Your Card” under “Physical Card,” then tap “Having trouble activating your card” and “Do not have card packaging.” Then, follow the instructions on the screen.

How to activate your Bank of America card  

There are three ways to activate a Bank of America credit card:

  • The fastest way to activate your BofA card is to visit the bank’s website and use your online banking ID and passcode to enroll your new credit card account.
  • Call the issuer’s activation line at 800-276-9939.
  • Download and use the BofA banking app from the App Store (for iPhone) or Google Play (for Android).

How to activate your Barclays card

 Barclays offers cardholders two ways to activate:

  • Visit the issuer’s website.
  • Activate via phone at 877-408-8866.

How to activate your Capital One card 

You can activate your Capital One credit card three ways:

  • Visit the bank’s website and use your online banking ID and passcode to enroll your new credit card account.
  • Call the issuer’s activation line at 800-227-4825.
  • Download and use the BofA banking app from the App Store (for iPhone) or Google Play (for Android).

How to activate your Chase card 

There are two ways to activate your Chase credit card:

  • You can sign into your existing Chase account or create a new one on the bank’s website.
  • Call the issuer’s activation line at 800-432-3117.

How to activate your Citi card 

Citi offers four ways to activate a card:

  • Visit the bank’s website to activate.
  • Download and use the Citi banking app from the App Store (for iPhone) or Google Play (for Android).
  • Call the number on the back of your card.
  • Send a text from your registered mobile phone number – ACT [space]  [last 4 digits of your card number] — to 6058 and you will get a text back immediately telling you that the card has been registered.

How to activate your Credit One Bank 

There is one way only to activate your Credit One Bank card:

  • Within 14 days of receiving your new card, call the phone number on the sticker on the front of it.

How to activate your Discover card  

Discover gives its cardholders two ways to activate their cards:

  • Visit the bank’s website to activate.
  • Call the issuer’s customer service line at 800-347-2683.

How to activate your Wells Fargo card 

 Wells Fargo offers three ways to activate its cards:

  • Visit the bank’s website and sign into or create a new account.
  • Call the issuer at 877-294-6933.
  • Download and use the Wells Fargo banking app from the App Store (for iPhone) or Google Play (for Androids).

See related: How to request a credit limit increase with Wells Fargo

Keep your credit card safe once you activate

Once you activate your new credit card you’ll want to keep it as safe and secure as possible.

You already know to sign it immediately after activating it, but there are other ways to protect it.

  • First, make sure you turn on “suspicious activity” alerts. If the issuer detects anything odd on your account – such as a very large purchase if you typically don’t make them, or a purchase out of state – it will contact you immediately to verify the purchase.
  • Never share your credit card information, and make sure you keep your contact information current with the issuer so it can notify you if it spots any fraudulent activity on the card.
  • Check your account frequently to see if there have been any unauthorized purchases on it. If you spot any, contact the issuer right away to report it.
  • Last, use the card for online purchases only on secure sites and never when you’re on public Wi-Fi, and never let an online merchant store your credit card number for future purchases.

Bottom line

Once you do all you can to protect yourself against credit card fraud and identity theft, you’ll likely sleep better at night knowing you’ve cut down significantly on your chances of becoming a victim.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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