Your card isn’t in your wallet where you thought it was, and now you have a dilemma. Either you call the bank immediately and cancel it (only to inevitably find it in your coat pocket an hour later), or you retrace your steps to search for it while buying a potential thief more time to take your card shopping.
Luckily, a growing number of banks understand this predicament and are giving cardholders the ability to remotely lock and unlock their cards via their banking apps. Card missing? Turn it off (to block new purchases) while you hunt for it. Find it? Turn it back on (no need to request a replacement).
Read on for a list of cards that have an on-off switch.
1. Discover credit cards – Freeze it
Discover launched its Freeze it feature in 2015, allowing cardholders to select their Discover card via the issuer’s app or online banking site and tap or click the “Freeze” button. While the card is frozen, it can’t be used for purchases. If you find the card, you can unfreeze it so that it can be used again.
Freeze it is compatible with all Discover’s credit cards, including Discover it.
2. Capital One — “Lock your card” feature
Card-locking is one of the features available via Capital One’s Wallet app (it also lets you track your purchases, capture your receipts and store digitized gift cards).
In the app, select the card you want to lock, lock it and then tap the locked card to turn it back on.
This feature is compatible with Capital One credit cards, including the Quicksilver and Venture cards.
3. Citi – Quick Lock
This feature is accessible via Citi’s mobile app and online banking site. In the app, tap to lock when you misplace your card, then tap to unlock if you find it.
If you’ve determined your card is lost for good and order a replacement, Citi also recently launched the ability to track the delivery of your replacement card in real time within its app or online.
Other reasons to lock your card
Card-locking features may come in handy outside of lost-card scenarios.
For example, you might want to lock down your card if you need a little extra motivation to spend less. “Freezing” your card is a visual reminder you’re not supposed to use it, and it’s way less messy than the literal freezing-your-card-in-a-bowl-of-water technique, if you need to quickly unlock it for an emergency purchase.
If you plan to not use a card for a while but want to keep it open to build your credit, turning it off can prevent, say, a family member from finding it in the dresser drawer and using it.
What if my bank won’t let me freeze my card?
Even if your bank doesn’t have a handy on-off switch for your card, that doesn’t mean you’ll be on the hook for charges a thief makes. The Fair Credit Billing Act states that consumers are liable for no more than $50 in fraudulent credit card charges before you report the card stolen to your bank. And many banks go even further with “zero-liability” protection, which waives even that $50 responsibility.
However, to ensure the bank refunds you for fraudulent charges, it’s vital you report them as quickly as possible and go through the bank’s verification and investigation process. We have a step-by-step guide for what to do if you spot a fraudulent charge.