A guide to activating a credit card

When your new credit card arrives, you’ll need to activate it before you can use it. Not sure how? Check out our simple guide to the credit card activation process…

When your new credit card arrives, you’ll need to activate it before you can use it. Not sure how? Check out our simple guide to the credit card activation process…

Written by
Alex Hasty
Insurance comparison and finance expert
Last Updated
2 min read
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Why do I need to activate my card?

You need to activate your credit card for security purposes. Activating your card tells your bank or credit card provider that you’re the correct cardholder and it hasn’t ended up in the wrong hands.

How do I activate a new credit card?

To activate your new credit card you’ll need the credit card number and your date of birth. You can either activate your card via online banking, mobile banking, phoning the card provider directly or using an ATM machine.

How do I activate a credit card online?

If you already have an online bank account with the provider, then your credit card will have been added to your account. Simply log in and go through the activation steps. If you don’t have an online account, you’ll need to set one up, then log in and enter your personal information to activate your card.  

How do I activate a credit card over the phone?

The number you need to call should be on the back of your credit card. Many providers offer a 24-hour automated phone line that will ensure your card is activated in just a few minutes. 

How do I activate a credit card at an ATM?

For contactless activation on your credit card you’ll need to use your PIN either at an ATM or in store before you can make your first contactless payment using your card.

How long do I have to activate a credit card?

That depends on the credit card issuer, so you should read your terms carefully. Usually, you’ll have up to two months to activate your credit card.

Once you’ve activated your card, you’ll also need to make sure that you’ve signed the back before using it to keep it secure.

How long after activating my credit card can I use it?

Typically, you can use your card almost immediately after you’ve activated it. If you’re having problems using your card, then it’s best to contact the provider to ensure it’s definitely been activated. 

What happens if you don’t activate a credit card?

If you don’t activate your credit card, you won’t be able to use your card to make a card payment or withdraw cash from an ATM. However, your credit card account will still be open. This means you’ll still owe any credit card fees, like an annual fee. Having too many lines of credit left open could also impact your credit score.

How do I know if my credit card is still active?

You can check whether your credit card is still active via online banking or by calling the card provider. If your credit card is no longer active, it will be declined when you try to use it.

Your credit card can be deactivated for a number of reasons. If you haven’t used it for several months or even years, then the credit card provider can choose to deactivate your card. Or it could be that your purchasing privileges have been suspended due to you making late repayments.

It could even be that it's expired and you haven’t received a replacement card (you’ll need to pick this up with the card provider). It’s important to also make sure that all personal information such as your address and phone number are up-to-date with your bank for security.

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