Credit Cards

When Should You Use Credit Card Locks?


WHEN YOU CAN’T FIND your credit card, it could just be misplaced. Or, it could be stolen by someone poised to rack up charges on your card. You could call your card’s issuer to cancel the card immediately, stop any new charges and reissue a new card. That can be a pain, especially if you have automatic payments set up.

But there’s another option to consider: Most credit card issuers allow you to put a hold on new charges – in some cases, for an indefinite period – and make it just as easy to unlock it if you find your card.

What Is a Credit Card Lock?

A credit card lock is like a pause button. It puts a temporary hold on your credit card to ensure no one, not even you, can use it to make purchases. This lock is also known as a freeze.

The lock feature is offered by many large credit card issuers and is most often available on apps and, in some cases, websites.

What happens when you lock your card?

  • You might still be able to make purchases if your card is in your digital wallet, but this isn’t the case for all issuers.
  • Automatic payments usually are not affected.
  • Most locks are indefinite, but depending on the issuer, a lock could lift automatically after one week.
  • Issuers usually do not limit how many times you can lock or unlock a card.

“It can be a good tool if you’re concerned there has been a temporary card loss but don’t necessarily want to disrupt your life,” says Adam Levin, chairman and founder of CyberScout, a provider of identity and data defense services, and author of “Swiped: How to Protect Yourself in a World Full of Scammers, Phishers, and Identity Thieves.”

Which Issuers Offer a Credit Card Lock?

Most major credit card issuers offer credit card locks or freezes. They include:

American Express. American Express allows for a seven-day card freeze.

Capital One. You can instantly lock your credit card on Capital One’s app. The card can still accept returns, credits and dispute adjustments during the lock, and some payments are exempted.

Chase. The company allows customers to block new purchases, cash advances and balance transfers made with the physical card or card number. Digital wallet purchases are still allowed, and the card lock won’t affect autopay transactions, credits or fees. If someone tries to make a purchase on a blocked card, Chase will notify the cardholder by email.

Citi. The lock/unlock feature on the Citi Mobile App allows cardholders to block new, nonrecurring charges…Read more>>