credit & debt

Lock Your Credit Card If It Goes Missing

Locking — rather than cancelling — a card, will block purchases and other ways a thief could hurt you, while still allowing recurring payments and similar conveniences to carry on unaffected.

Canceling and replacing a lost debit or credit card can be a hassle. After the new card arrives in the mail, you need to update every retailer, streaming service or utility provider that relies on your card number for payments. Now, many banks and credit card issuers are adding the option of temporarily “locking” your card instead, in case you want to buy some time to search for your card.

A lock can be an on/off switch in the bank’s app or on its website, or it can be a more sophisticated feature that allows you to specify, say, the locations or the types of transactions that are approved for your card. A lock will typically prevent new purchases, ATM activity, cash advances and balance transfers, but it will allow automatic or recurring payments, returns, credits and dispute adjustments. For extra security, you can also turn a card “off” that you are leaving behind while on vacation. Most issuers allow indefinite locks, though American Express lifts a lock after seven days.

You should lock your card as soon as you notice it’s gone or find an unfamiliar charge, then investigate further before contacting your bank, says David Keenan, senior vice president in card products at Fiserv, a financial technology company that has a locking and alert app called CardValet (available at Fiserv partner banks). If you can’t find your card, notify your issuer. Most issuers will send you a new card free, but they may charge a fee for rush deliveries.

If you’re waiting for a new debit card to arrive and need to withdraw cash, a bank branch may provide you with a temporary debit card on the spot. Some issuers also help you update merchants with your new card number. American Express will allow most recurring payments to go through seamlessly. Bank of America may provide your new card number to merchants with whom you have recurring payments, and Wells Fargo’s Control Tower tool will show you a list of merchants with whom you’ve had recurring transactions within the past 12 months.

Most Popular

Dying Careers You May Want to Steer Clear Of
careers

Dying Careers You May Want to Steer Clear Of

It’s tough to change, but your job could depend on it. Be flexible in your career goals – and talk with your kids about their own aspirations, because…
September 13, 2021
5 Top Dividend Aristocrats to Beef Up Your Portfolio
dividend stocks

5 Top Dividend Aristocrats to Beef Up Your Portfolio

The 65-member Dividend Aristocrats are among the market's best sources of reliable, predictable income. But these five stand out as truly elite.
September 14, 2021
7 Best Commodity Stocks to Play the Coming Boom
commodities

7 Best Commodity Stocks to Play the Coming Boom

These seven commodity stocks are poised to take advantage of a unique confluence of events. Just mind the volatility.
September 8, 2021

Recommended

Think Twice About Applying for Credit
Basics

Think Twice About Applying for Credit

Credit card issuers are offering a lot of incentives, but your credit score could suffer.
August 27, 2021
Credit Cards Offer Travel Insurance
Travel

Credit Cards Offer Travel Insurance

Premium rewards cards that may charge an annual fee generally provide better coverage.
August 26, 2021
New Perks From Our Best Rewards Cards
Smart Buying

New Perks From Our Best Rewards Cards

No annual fee, new tiered rewards and more cash back are some of the offerings.
July 24, 2021
Financial Advice from America’s Founding Fathers
credit & debt

Financial Advice from America’s Founding Fathers

What money-management guidance can we glean from the words — and experience — of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and others?
July 1, 2021