Home > Credit Cards > 7 Things to Do When You Get a New Credit Card

Comments 0 Comments
Advertiser Disclosure


A mysterious, non-descript envelope finds its way into your mailbox one day. It weighs a bit more than other letters, so you open it up to find a shiny new credit card. Perhaps you have recently opened a new account, or maybe it is a replacement for a card that has been lost, stolen, or has simply expired.

So What’s Next?

1. Match the card up with an account. First, you want to determine if the card is for a new account or if it’s a replacement card for an existing account. If you can’t figure out which account the card is for, it’s possible that someone ordered a card in your name without your permission (perhaps planning to steal it from the mailbox), and that you may have been the victim of identity theft. If this seems like a possibility, call the card issuer. It’s also a good idea to pull your credit reports periodically to check for unauthorized accounts. If you monitor your credit score and it changes unexpectedly, that’s a good sign to check your reports. (You can get your credit score for free on Credit.com, updated every 14 days.)

2. Activate the card. Call the number on the card, or go to the card issuer’s website to activate the credit card. The telephone number and website address will be printed on a sticker on the front of the card. Activating the card lets the issuer know that it has been received safely and that it’s ready for use.

3. Destroy any old cards. If the card you received is a replacement card for one that has expired, you will want to find and destroy the old card. You will also want to update any automatic payments that you’ve set up using the old card’s number (if it has changed) and expiration date.

4. Sign the back of your card. There is a long-running debate about whether it is better to sign the back of your card, leave it blank, or write something like “See ID.” The short answer is that you should go ahead and sign it. For more information about this issue, see Should You Sign Your Credit Card?

5. Configure your account online. With your new card ready to go, this is a great time to go online and make sure it is configured correctly. Consider the following questions: Does the card issuer have your correct contact information? Would you like to change the payment due date? Do you need to set up any email or text alerts for charges, payments or due dates?

6. Reacquaint yourself with the card’s terms, conditions, rewards and benefits. Along with your new card, you will probably receive some written information about it. This pamphlet, often called a guide to benefits, will offer information on any perks and benefits the card offers. For example, it might feature travel insurance or purchase protection policies that you can use. Cards co-branded with airline and hotel programs typically include discounts or priority access when traveling. Since these benefits change from year to year, now is a good time to see what your new card currently offers.

7. Put the card in a safe place. If you plan on using this card often, then you will want to add it to your collection in your wallet or purse. If the card is just going to be used at home, while traveling or for special purposes, it is best to put it in your safe or another secure place in your home or office. What you don’t want to do is just leave it out in the house, the office, or worst, in your car. Doing so is a good way to lose your card or have it stolen.

More on Credit Cards:

Image: Goodluz

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team