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We’ve all been there.

With no prior warning, you’re faced with a large expense that must be paid ASAP. Most cards cards take a week if not more to arrive in the mail. But to spend that much money and not reap tons of rewards from it seems like blasphemy… what’s a girl to do??

Sometimes you can request a card number (and expiration date and security code, all you’d need for purchase) immediately after approval. Not all the banks will issue one, and it’s never a guarantee, but some will–and with some you have a better chance than others.

Doctor of Credit has a great roundup of information about Cards that Issue an Instant Card Number Upon Approval. Below is a brief summary, broken down by the more popular banks. I suggest reading his post as well and the comments left on it for added data points.

American Express

Out of all the big issuing banks, it seems as if it’s the easiest to get a card number following approval from American Express. Roughly half of people contributing their experiences say they’ve been able to get a number ahead of the physical card, and the other half couldn’t.

Apparently with the co-branded Amex cards (i.e. Delta, SPG, Hilton, etc), some report getting an instant number but only being able to use it on purchases with the respective brand.


DOC spoke with a Citi representative who told them they will occasionally issue a number early for the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard and the AT&T Access Card.

Chase, Barclays, Discover

Sadly, Chase, Barclays, nor Discover are known for never having released a card number ahead of the physical card.

Bank of America

People report successfully getting a number ahead of the physical card for the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card, but not many others.

Bottom Line

Big expenses sometimes happen unexpectedly that have to be paid off immediately. Knowing which banks have the best track record of issuing credit card details before your card arrives in the mail will help prepare you the next time you’re in that circumstance and want to take advantage of your spontaneous spending. It appears that non co-branded American Express cards and Bank of America’s Alaska card are your best shot.

If you’ve ever gotten a new credit card’s details following approval, let us know your experience in the comments so others can make better decisions about which cards to apply for if they’re faced with a similar situation.

Credit card links have been removed from posts and added to the menu bar at the top of every page of MileValue under the heading Top Travel Credit Cards.