What Is a Same-Day Credit Card?

A same-day credit card is also referred to as an instant-use credit card. When credit card providers offer this option, they provide tools that make it possible for you to make charges on the card immediately once you’re approved. This is in contrast to the traditional process, which requires you to wait for around two weeks until the actual credit card arrives via mail. Find out more about same-day credit cards below, including how they work and how you can get one.

How Do Same-Day Credit Cards Work?

When you apply for a credit card from a company that offers this option and you’re approved, the company emails you information that allows you to make charges on your account without having the physical credit card. Each credit card company handles this differently, but some common options include:

  • Providing you with the credit card number. Some card issuers provide you with the credit card number that will come on your card so you can use it to make purchases the same day you’re approved for the card.
  • Providing a virtual card number. Other card issuers provide a virtual credit card, which is really just a card number linked to your account that’s not the same number as on your physical card. In some cases, this number is dynamic, which means it’s created uniquely for each purchase to provide greater protection when shopping online.
  • Offering an app that lets you connect your account with digital payment wallets. In some cases, the card issuer prompts you to download an app and connect it to your account. You can then use the app to make payments or connect your card account to digital wallets and services, such as Google Pay or Apple Wallet. Then, you can use those services to make payments.

Where Can You Shop With a Same-Day Credit Card?

Typically, you’ll have the best luck shopping online with a same-day credit card. You can also easily make purchases via phone by providing the credit card number to the vendor. It’s not as easy to use this type of card at a physical register because you don’t have anything to swipe. However, if you’ve connected your new credit card number to a digital wallet, you can pay with that method at stores and other physical locations that accept Apple Wallet, Google Pay, and other such options. 

The Benefits of Same-Day Credit Cards

The most obvious perk of a same-day credit card is that you can use it instantly once you’re approved. This may come in handy if you want to use the credit card to make a necessary and time-sensitive purchase. It can also be handy if you’re applying for the card because of a balance transfer offer. You can get the ball rolling as quickly as possible to transfer debt from a higher-interest card, potentially saving yourself some interest or the need to make a payment on that other card.

Another time it can be helpful to be able to use your card immediately is when you’re approved for a rewards card and there’s a signup bonus. These bonuses typically require spending a certain amount in the first few months after opening the account. If you have to wait for the physical card to arrive, you may lose two weeks or more of that bonus-earning opportunity. 

Are There Any Downsides to Instant-Use Credit Cards?

The majority of potential downsides to these types of cards are the same issues you might face with any credit card. You may be dealing with a high interest rate, and if you run up your balance and can’t pay it off each month, you could face a lot of interest expense over time. Missing payments or carrying high balances can also negatively impact your credit.

It’s also important to note that many credit card lenders don’t immediately make your entire credit limit available. For example, if you’re approved for a credit limit of $5,000, you may only have instant access to $2,500 until your physical card arrives. 

Which Lenders Offer Same-Day Credit Cards?

Many credit card companies offer same-day credit cards, including American Express, Capital One, and Discover. Retail store credit cards are also often instant-use cards. If you apply at the register at Kohl’s, Best Buy, or other retailers and are accepted, you can usually use your account to make purchases within the store that day.

Should You Seek an Instant-Use Credit Card?

In most cases, whether you get instant access to your credit card account is likely not the most important consideration. After all, this perk becomes obsolete in a few weeks when you receive your physical credit card. 

Instead, consider more long-term factors when choosing the right credit card for you, including interest rates, annual fees, customer service options, perks, benefits, and rewards. Start your research for the right credit card for you in our credit card marketplace

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