Understanding the Basics of the Amex Temporary Card Number

Ashley Ferraro, Consumer Operations
Aug 28, 2023
 • 
10
 Min Read

The arrival of a new or replacement credit card may take days or, sometimes, weeks. This can be quite inconvenient for most customers, which is why banks typically provide temporary card numbers as a solution. You can use these credentials for payments until your physical card arrives in the mail.

American Express® doesn’t provide an Amex temporary card number to its customers, but you can benefit from one of its similar features—the Instant Card Number—offering the same convenience. 

In this article, you will learn the following about Amex’s alternative to a temporary card number:

  • Who qualifies for it
  • Where you can find it
  • How to use it
  • What its benefits and limitations are

The provided info is valid as of July 2023. Please visit the official American Express website for the latest updates.

What Is the Amex Temporary Card Number Alternative—Instant Card Number?

Source: Karolina Grabowska

The Amex Instant Card Number is a number eligible users can request after getting approved for a new American Express card[1]

During the application process for the Amex card, the user must go through an authentication process prior to receiving an Instant Card Number. Once the authentication is successfully completed, the user receives the Instant Card Number via email. These credentials can be used while waiting for the physical card to arrive in the mail, which takes about three to five business days[2]. Customers can use the Instant Card Number to:

  • Shop online[1]
  • Conduct in-person transactions (after being added to a digital wallet)[1]
  • Earn miles, points, and cashback (depending on the card)[1]

Note that the American Express Instant Card Number is not a temporary card number—it is the same 15-digit card number that will appear on the user’s physical card.

Who Qualifies for the Amex Instant Card Number?

The Instant Card Number service is available for all Amex Consumer Credit and Charge Cards users who meet the following eligibility criteria[2]:

  • The user fulfills the requirements for the requested card because the Instant Card Number can only be issued if the applied-for physical card is approved. Some criteria include having a solid credit history, U.S. residency, and being over 18 years of age.
  • American Express must be able to authenticate the user instantly based on the information provided in the application.

Users need to apply for a card online, via desktop or mobile, or over the phone. The card request, i.e., account, must be approved before accessing the service.

If Amex cannot perform instant authentication, the Instant Card Number may be subject to restrictions, including being limited to select merchants or not receiving full access to the credit line until the physical card arrives[1].

How To Find the Amex Instant Card Number Online

A photo of a person handling a phone

Source: Pixabay

If you’re eligible, you should receive your Instant Card Number and accompanying details shortly after your account is approved. Here’s how to access the card:

  1. If you apply online, you can retrieve the card details directly from the application screen or load them into a digital wallet. 
  2. In any case (whether you’ve applied online or over the phone), you’ll receive a Welcome email containing the access link shortly after approval.


Regardless of the application method, you’ll need to verify your identity prior to accessing the card. Follow Amex’s instructions to complete this step. Upon successful verification, a window with your Instant Card Number, expiration date, and CVV/CVC will pop up. 

For your security, you are allotted three minutes to copy the details before the information disappears. Alternatively, you can download them in PDF form or take a screenshot.

You should store this information securely.

How To Use the Amex Instant Card Number

You can use your Instant Card Number to pay online or in-store, wherever Amex cards are accepted. The following sections will guide you through the process.

Online Shopping

The Instant Card Number works like a regular card. Once at checkout, enter your card number, expiration date, and CVV/CVC. If you’ve enabled multi-factor authentication, you’ll also have to verify the transaction using the chosen method.

In-Store Purchases

A photo of a person holding a phone against a POS terminal depicting a digital wallet transaction

Source: Kampus Production

To pay with your Instant Card Number in a physical store, you must load it into a digital wallet first. A digital wallet is a secure financial application that allows you to store payment information and complete transactions.

The Amex new account Instant Card Number is compatible with these six digital wallet apps[1]:

  1. Apple Pay™
  2. Google Pay™
  3. Samsung Pay
  4. Fitbit Pay™
  5. PayPal
  6. Amazon Pay


The exact process of loading the card into a digital wallet varies depending on the app. Generally, you need to install the app on your mobile device, input the card details, and follow the on-screen instructions to complete the setup. 

If you’ve completed your card application online, you can add the card to your digital wallet directly from the application screen after approval.

Once you’ve set up your card within your digital wallet, you can use it at any store that accepts Amex and e-wallets. Depending on the app and technology, you may need to hold your mobile device against the terminal to complete checkout.

Amex Instant Card Number—Benefits and Limitations

The following table presents the advantages and disadvantages of the Amex Instant Card Number feature:

Benefits
Limitations
Instant use: Amex allows you to access the card immediately after acceptance.Amex allows you to access the card immediately after acceptance.
Eligibility: You must fulfill specific criteria to get card approval and use the Instant Card Number. Most notably, your creditworthiness must be strong.
E-wallet integration: You can quickly and effortlessly connect your Instant Card Number with the most popular digital wallets.

Limited access: If Amex can’t authenticate you instantly, you may not receive full access to funds and be limited to certain merchants until the physical card arrives.
Convenience: In only a few clicks, you can copy your card number or import it into a digital wallet.
Security: Since the Instant Card Number is the same as your physical credit card number, you are at risk of having your card data stolen from merchants’ websites.

How Are You at Risk When Using Credit Cards Online?

A photo of a person holding a payment card while using a laptop

Source: Joshua Woroniecki

According to FTC’s February 2023 report, credit card fraud is among the most prevalent types of identity theft, accounting for over 440,000 reports in 2022. Whenever you expose your real credit or debit card data during online shopping—including in the form of the Instant Card Number—you risk your sensitive information being compromised and misused. Based on the concerning statistics above, protecting your sensitive data is more crucial than ever. 

Virtual cards are one solution to help protect against online threats. A virtual card is a unique set of card details, particularly a 16-digit card number, expiration date, and security code you can use for purchases. While these credentials are connected to your bank account or credit line, they serve to mask your real card or bank data during online transactions. A potential hacker on the merchant’s website can only see your virtual card information, while your real data remains protected.

Amex offers virtual cards, but they are compatible with credit cards only issued by the company. If you don’t have an Amex card, want to draw funds from your bank account, or would like to unlock a range of other benefits to enhance your buying experience, consider Privacy Virtual Cards.

Privacy Virtual Cards—A Safer Way To Buy

Don’t risk the exposure of your sensitive data online—connect your bank account or debit card with Privacy and shield your financial information from prying eyes. When using Privacy Virtual Cards, your real payment data won’t be exposed or stored on the merchant’s website during transactions, protecting you from hackers and breaches. 

You can generate virtual cards for specific merchants or one-time payments that increase the security of your transactions. Learn the details in the following table:

Type of Card
How It Works
Benefits
Merchant-Locked Card
Can be used only with a specific merchant.
Even if a hacker gets hold of it, the card is unusable on other websites.
Single-Use Card
Closes automatically after the purchase.
You can use it for first-time purchases on new websites to avoid revealing your actual financial information before confirming that the merchant is credible. In case a hacker gets hold of your virtual card data, they won’t be able to misuse it at all.


Safety is not the only benefit you will enjoy with Privacy. The company places equal attention to convenience and control over your transactions by enabling you to:

  1. Enjoy faster checkouts
  2. Pause, close, and set spending limits on your Privacy Virtual Cards
  3. Monitor your activity

Enjoy Faster Checkouts

If you get the Privacy browser extension for Chrome, Firefox, or Safari, you can have your card details auto-filled at checkout. This feature allows you to switch between multiple cards and manage them with ease.

Privacy has also partnered with 1Password, a leading password manager. With 1Passwords’s web extension, you can store your payment details and login credentials safely and conveniently.

Pause, Close, and Set Spending Limits on Your Privacy Virtual Cards

Privacy enables you to instantly pause or close your virtual card, without affecting your real card or bank data.

This feature is useful for subscriptions you no longer need or protecting against merchant data breaches. Pause or close your card, and Privacy will decline all further charges from that particular service.

Privacy also allows you to set spending limits on each card. This feature gives you more control over your budget and prevents overcharging.

Monitor Your Activity

The Privacy mobile app enables you to generate and manage virtual cards wherever you are. You can activate push notifications to get alerts regarding every transaction and decline in real time. The app is available for iOS and Android devices. 

Privacy Eligibility, Pricing, and Setup

To start using Privacy, you need to:

  1. Sign up on the website
  2. Fill out the information required for identity verification
  3. Link your bank account or debit card
  4. Request your virtual card


As a BBB®-accredited, PCI-compliant business, Privacy follows the highest payment security standards and provides users with the same level of security as any trustworthy bank.

U.S. residents over 18 with a checking account at a U.S. bank or credit union are eligible to sign up. With the Personal plan, you can create up to 12 cards monthly.

Paid plans like Pro ($10/month) and Premium ($25/month) unlock the following perks:

  • Additional cards (up to 36 virtual cards monthly with Pro and 60 with Premium)
  • 1% cashback for eligible purchases totaling up to $4,500 a month
  • Priority support
  • Dedicated account management (Premium plan)

References

[1] American Express. 
https://www.americanexpress.com/us/credit-cards/features-benefits/digital-wallets/instant-approval-credit-card/, sourced July 2023
[2]American Express. https://www.americanexpress.com/us/credit-cards/features-benefits/digital-wallets/instant-approval-credit-card/#FAQ, sourced July 2023

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