You can’t find your credit card. It could be in the hands of a thief, or it could be between the sofa cushions. In most cases, you have two immediate options: Worry about what the thief is buying while you tear apart the inside of your car, or call your bank and ask it to shut down your card and replace it.
If you then find the card in the sofa after the new one’s already in the mail, you still have to update any autopay bills linked to your card, as the new one will likely have a new number.
Discover, however, is now providing another option – which it’s calling “Freeze it.” The issuer says it’s the first to offer this capability.
This video shows how it works:
In a nutshell, freezing your account allows you to turn it on and off. Here’s a breakdown of some of the details:
- It’s quick. You can freeze your account online, via an app or on the phone. The app is a particularly good option if you’re on the go — you can just freeze the card as a precaution and then search for it as soon as you have time. You also get to avoid the ritual of looking up your issuer’s phone number, pressing various numbers and waiting on hold.
- It’s thorough. While your account is frozen, the physical card can no longer be used in stores, nor can the account number be used online or over the phone. Balance transfers are shut down, too. Note that all cards on your account will be frozen, so let your authorized users know.
- It doesn’t affect account activity you actually want. Recurring bills linked to your account won’t be disrupted while your account is frozen, solving the autopay dilemma that usually comes up when you lose your card. Any scheduled payments of your balance will also go through as well, and you can still redeem rewards. A Discover spokesperson confirmed that pending charges shouldn’t be impacted either (as they’ve already been approved).
- It’s temporary. If you find your card, you can unfreeze your account – Discover will remind you in a week if you forget to unfreeze. If you don’t find your card, you can report it lost or stolen online, via the app or on the phone and ask for a replacement. At least you’ve had time to retrace your steps for a few days and determine the card is probably gone for good before you pull the plug.
- You can freeze/unfreeze as often as you wish. This has potential as a money-management method as well, if you have problems controlling you spending. The feature may also be welcome to anyone who wants to sock-drawer their Discover card — if the card is no longer useful, but you want to keep it open for credit-building purposes, freezing the account provides an extra layer of security while it’s tucked in your sock drawer or another safe place.
Even if you find yourself wishing that all the cards in your wallet had this capability, know that all credit cards do provide protection against theft and fraud. The Fair Credit Billing Act guarantees that you’re responsible for no more than $50 in fraudulent charges before you report your card lost or stolen. However, card networks and issuers generally extended zero-liability protection to cardholders, meaning you wouldn’t even be responsible for $50.