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Wondering how to get a credit card? We’re here to answer any questions you have about the application process.

Before applying for a credit card, consider your financial goals.

Do you want to build or repair your credit score so you can access loans with lower interest rates—and perhaps buy that big-ticket item, like a car or home? Do you want to maximize your credit card rewards? Maybe you want to subsidize your meals out or lower commuting costs with a card that earns extra points at restaurants and gas stations. Perhaps you’re a travel junkie—and want to earn triple points on airline tickets, rental cars or hotels. Or, maybe you want to earn cash back or discounts on purchases or transfer high-interest credit debt to a card with a lower interest rate.

Whatever the answer, make sure you know your goals before you go for a card. That will help you decide which credit card is best for you—and which you should apply for.

  1. Step 1

    Apply for a Card

    The first step is to fill out an application. We’ll ask you for some personal information, like your annual income, employment status and housing information. 

    If you like, you can add a partner, child or someone else as an authorized user to your account. They’ll get their own card— with the ability to make purchases (so make sure they have your trust!).

    The online application process takes a few minutes, and you can choose to add authorized users later after approval. You can see which card you qualify for with no impact to your credit score through our prequalification tool

    Remember—to apply for a Navy Federal card, you need to be a Navy Federal member.

    View Our Cards

  2. Step 2

    Credit Check

    We’ll contact one of the 3 major credit bureaus to check your credit history. Your credit score and other factors (like how much debt you already have) will help determine if you’re approved, your interest rate and your credit limit.

    Our inquiry will result in a “hard pull”—a note on your credit report that a creditor has looked at your credit file to assess your risk as a creditor. Hard pulls could impact your credit score, depending on how recently you’ve applied for credit— so be sure to look before you leap. The effect on your score is determined by credit bureau standards.

  3. Step 3

    Credit Card Approval and Denial


    If qualified, the approval process could take seconds. If additional documents are required, it can take up 30 days to receive a decision. You can sign up for text notifications,* and we'll send you a text letting you know our decision.


    If your application is declined, we’ll mail you a letter explaining why.

    If you don’t qualify for your card of choice, consider our nRewards® Secured card—a great option for building or repairing credit. You can learn more about consolidating credit card debt and tips to get back on track at MakingCents, our information clearinghouse of “smart money” strategies.

  4. Step 4

    Use Your New Card

    We’ll send your card in the mail within 7 to 10 days of your approval, along with information about terms of use, like your interest rate and credit limit. You can activate your card by phone or online! 

    While you're waiting for your physical card to arrive in the mail, you could get a digitally issued card sent to your email and use it immediately. Eligible members qualify for digital issuance.