If you recently received a new Visa or Mastercard debit card or credit card you’ll need to activate is before being able to use it. The debit and credit card activation processes are designed to be extremely simple and in most cases they only takes a few minutes. Card activation is required due to potential fraud and the card issuer wanting to ensure that someone doesn’t intercept your card in the mail and try to use it fraudulently.
This step-by-step guide generally works for all of the major debit and credit cards issued regardless of whether the card is issued by Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Chase, Citi, U.S. Bank, Capital One or most other small banks and credit unions such as Navy Federal Credit Union and many more! The steps to activate your new card will vary slightly depending on the issuing bank and whether you’re activating a debit or credit card but this generic guide will work for the majority of people needing to activate their new card.
After our debit and credit card activation guide we have included an FAQ section where we answer some most often asked questions about debit cards and credit cards in general such as what happens if you don’t activate your card or if you don’t receive it in the mail.
So continue reading below for our step-by-step guides regarding how to activate a new debit card or a new credit card. After activating your card you’ll be able to use it immediately.
3 Simple Ways to Activate Debit & Credit Cards (+ 2 Additional Way to Activate a Debit Card)
When your new credit card comes in the mail it will have a sticker on the front of the card with a phone number you can call to activate your card or a website you can also visit to complete the activation process. Typically you can also activate your card via your Banks mobile app. If you’re activating a debit card you can also visit your bank in person where you can use it at one of your banks ATMs or a banker may be able to activate it for you inside the branch.
Typically online activation is the quickest way to begin using your card but calling the phone number is a perfectly suitable solution as well.
1. Activating Your Credit or Debit Card Over the Phone
Phone activation is simple, just call the number on the sticker on the front of your card and follow the prompts to activate your card. Depending on who issued the card this process may be fully automated or in other instances you will be required to speak to a customer service agent. Typically you’ll be asked for various card information such as the card number, expiration date, 3-digit cvv code found on the back and you may even be asked for personally identifying information that only you would know such as your DOB, the last 4 digits of your social, etc… Supply the requested information and you should have your card activated for use in no time.
In come cases the automated system you call is able to verify your phone number so you’re not required to provide any personally identifying information.
*Note: If you card does not come with a sticker on the front you’ll need to call the number found on the back of your the card to activate it.
Debit Card Nuances
During the activation process if you’re activating a debit card you will be prompted to create a 4-digit PIN number unless one has already be selected for you. In addition to activating your debit card you’ll need this 4-digit PIN number to complete purchases.
2. Activating Your Credit or Debit Card Online
Online activation is also very fast, if your card came with a sticker on the front and offers online activation just visit the supplied webpage and follow the steps. With banks like Bank of America and Wells Fargo you’ll need to login to your online banking portal and follow the steps to activate your new card. Like phone activation you’ll need to enter your card number, expiration date, security code and choose a 4-digit PIN. There’s no need to supply any personal information since you’re the only one that should have access to your online banking.
Debit Card Nuances
If you’re activating a debit card this typically requires you to have already have enrolled in online banking which your bank should have assisted you with when you opened your bank account with them. Contact your bank if they don’t offer online banking setup through their website.
Credit Card Nuances
If you already have another credit card with the issuing bank you’ll need to sign in to your account. If you don’t have online access you will usually be required to sign up for online access during the activation process. This will allow you to check all account activity, manage payments, request a credit limit increase and much more!
3. Activating Your Debit or Credit Card With Your Banks Mobile App
Activating your card with you banks mobile app is as simple as activating it online although not all banks have this as an option (Typically some of the smaller banks don’t offer app activation). Download your banks mobile app and sign in to your online banking account. From there select the debit or credit card activation option and follow the steps to activate your card. This process can vary slightly depending on the app interface so if you’re having trouble visit the support tab in the app and get in touch with customer service or try phone or online activation.
Debit Card Nuances
If you’re activating a debit card you will be required to have have enrolled in online banking which your bank should have assisted you with when you opened your bank account with them. Contact your bank if they don’t offer online banking setup through their website.
Credit Card Nuances
If you already have another credit card with the issuing banking you’ll need to sign in to your online account. If you don’t already have online access you will be required to sign up for online access during the activation process. This will allow you to check all account activity, manage payments, request a credit limit increase and much.
2 Additional Way to Activate Debit Cards
If you’re activating a debit card and the options above don’t suit your needs we have covered two additional ways you can activated your debit card so that you can begin using it right away.
1. Activating Your Debit Card at an ATM
If you already have your PIN number some banks allow you to activate your debit card via one of their ATMs. Just insert your card into the ATM and enter your PIN, make a deposit or withdrawal and your card should be activated. There may be a few additional on screen steps to activate your card depending on who you bank with but this process is extremely straightforward. The only drawback to this activation method that it is time consuming to make a visit to your bank. This method is not available with all banks so we suggest that you contact your local branch before taking the time to make an in person visit to your bank.
2. Activating Your Debit Card at Your Local Branch
Some banks allow you to make a personal visit to your local branch and a banker there can activate your card for you. This isn’t an option with all banks for security reasons so it’s best to call ahead before taking the time to drive to your bank and finding out that you can’t activate your card this way.
Debit / Credit Card Activation FAQs
How Long Does it Take to Activate a Debit or Credit Card?
It should only take you a few minutes to activate your new card if you choose online, phone or mobile app activation. It will obviously take longer if you decide to visit your local branch for debit card activation.
When Can I Use My New Card Card After Activating it?
Once you activate your card you should be able to use it immediately. If for some reason your card isn’t working double check that you’re using the correct PIN (if it’s a debit card) and that the merchant accepts your type of card (Visa or Mastercard usually). If you’re still having trouble call the number on the back of your card to speak with a customer service rep from your card issuer.
How to I Activate My Card Online?
Visit the webpage found on the sticker on the front of your debit card and follow the steps. This should only take a few minutes and then your card will be activated for immediate use.
Can I Activate My Card Before it Arrives?
No, you’ll need your card information which can only be found on your new card.
Can Someone Else Activate My Card?
The only way someone else can activate you card is if they have the physical card. Regardless banks typically offer $0 liability for fraudulent charges so you should be fine.
How Long Do You Have to Activate a New Card?
This varies depending on the issuing bank but you typically have 45-60 days to activate your card. If it’s been longer get in touch with support from you bank, you may need to request a new card.
What Happens if You Don’t Activate My New Card?
If you don’t activate your card it will eventually be cancelled by your bank and you’ll have to request a new card if you ever want or need a debit card again in the future.
Conclusion to Activating a New Debit or Credit Card
Activating your new credit or debit card should be an extremely simple process that can be completed is just a few short minutes. Follow the steps provided for your preferred activation method and you’ll have your new card activated and ready for use right away. If you’re having any trouble just call the number found on the back of your card and your card issuers customer service department will be able to help you!