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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 at restaurants or lower commuting costs with a card that earns extra points at restaurants and gas stations. Perhaps you’ve got the travel bug—and want to earn triple points on airline tickets, rental cars or hotels. Or, it might be that 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

    Submit Your Credit Card Application

    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 details. 

    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

    Wait While Your Credit Gets Checked

    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 your approval, your interest rate and your credit limit.

    Our inquiry will result in a “hard pull”—a note on your credit report that a creditor checked your credit file to assess your risk to them. Hard pulls could impact your credit score, depending on how recently you’ve applied for credit— so you want to be pretty sure of what you want before you let a hard pull happen. The effect on your score is determined by credit bureau standards.

  3. Step 3

    Receive Your Approval or Denial


    If qualified, the approval process could take seconds. If additional documents are required, it can take up to 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.

Our credit card application requires some basic personal information like your name, your address and how to reach you. We’ll also need some financial information—your job, your income and your housing situation.

There are a couple of ways you can build up your credit history. 

You could ask a family member or someone else you trust to add you as an authorized user. You'll receive your own card with a unique card number and have the ability to make purchases using the account. By making on-time payments, you have the opportunity to build credit. 

You could also apply for our nRewards secured credit card, which helps you establish a credit history and earn rewards. By making a deposit as low as $200, you could be eligible for a credit limit increase in as little as 3 months and an upgrade to a cashRewards credit card in as little as 6 months. 

If you're a Navy Federal member, you can instantly check to see which cards you qualify for before applying. The best part? There's no impact to your credit score. Learn more about our credit card prequalification tool to see what you're eligible for.