Lost Your Credit Card? How To Place a Temporary Freeze on Your Account

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Quick! Check your pockets. Do you have all of your personal belongings?

At some point in our lives, most of us have felt the rush of panic that comes with misplacing important personal items like keys, cash, identification or credit cards.

That sinking feeling in your stomach is not fun. Don’t stress, though. You may have a safety net in place that you didn’t even know about that can help you push “pause” while attempting to remedy the situation. 

Credit card issuers have developed a way to alleviate at least a bit of that stress by giving you the ability to freeze activity on your card with the simple click of a button.

Credit card freezes let you secure your account in the event your card gets misplaced. They also prevent stolen cards from being used and can even help you manage your spending.

What Does It Mean To Freeze a Credit Card and Why Would I Want To Do That?

A credit card freeze is a quick way to inform your credit card company that you would to halt transactions temporarily such as new point-of-sale purchases or cash advances.

You’ll need to request this action via the card issuer’s mobile app, website or customer service phone number if you find yourself unable to locate your credit card and are afraid that you’re exposed to potentially fraudulent or unauthorized transactions.

The credit card freeze process is quick and efficient, with most card issuers offering it free of charge with the ability to “freeze” and “unfreeze” the account within a matter of seconds. (Note: Some card issuers refer to this as “locking” and “unlocking” your account.)

That can be a pretty handy service if you’re prone to misplacing your wallet, have children who sometimes use your card, are going on vacation and want peace of mind while you’re away or are a frequent traveler who worries about losing something along the way. 

How Can I Freeze My Credit Card?

First, check with your individual card provider to see if a credit card freeze is an option for you. Once you figure out that your account is eligible for this process, there likely will be a few different ways you can freeze the account.


I checked major card providers Discover, American Express and Bank of America to better understand the freezing process. Each offers the ability to freeze your card via their phone apps (iOS or Android), website or by telephone.

Once you sign in to your account with the proper credentials, it’s an easy process.

On the Discover app, the “Freeze Account” option is located on the landing page upon successful login. From there, the following screen will give you the option to freeze the account.

On the American Express website, you can freeze your account by clicking on the “Account Services” tab and then finding the “Freeze Card” option under the “Card Management” heading. Here’s a look at the process for American Express.

Bank of America allows you to “lock your card” through the “Card Settings” menu on its app. You’ll find this option alongside options to replace the card, report a stolen card or add a travel notice.

Which Credit Card Companies Allow Freezing a Credit Card?

The following credit card issuers offer the ability to freeze or lock your card. The link attached to each should give you more information on the process for each issuer, as best practices for freezing a card may vary by provider:

Note that some of the links above may require you to log in to your account for more information about freezing your card.

Some Important Things To Know Before Choosing To Freeze Your Credit Card

Ready to get started using the credit card freeze option? Great. But before you start, here are a few things to remember along the way.

A Freeze Doesn’t Stop All Transactions

With most credit card companies, freezing your card does not necessarily lock all transactions from being processed.

Both American Express and Discover warn that the freeze is primarily on point-of-sale or one-time uses of the card. If you have charges that are classified as recurring, those will continue to be processed even if your card is frozen.


Regularly scheduled charges such as online subscriptions should be monitored closely. They may require more action than just freezing the card if you’re trying to shut off all transactions to the account.

It’s also possible to complete some online wallet transactions with some accounts even though the card is frozen.

A Credit Card Freeze Is Different From a Credit Freeze or a Credit Lock

While the terminology is close, there is an important distinction between freezing your card and freezing your credit.

Freezing your credit involves restricting access to your credit reports. This is done through the major credit bureaus, and it’s designed to keep anyone from opening a new credit account (not just credit cards) in your name. 

This process is completely unrelated to credit card freezes, which involve temporarily restricting the use of an existing credit card.

There May Be a Time Limit on Your Card Freeze

While most card companies will allow you to freeze and unfreeze (lock and unlock) the account in real time, it is intended to be temporary.

For example, American Express says that it will automatically unfreeze a card after seven days.

Final Thoughts on Credit Card Freezes

This is a convenient, easy-to-use tool that you should have in your financial arsenal. 

Most credit card companies offer this as a free service because, in the long run, it also saves them money in settling fraudulent activity.

Given the temporary nature of a freeze and the ease with which you can unfreeze an account, it is a good idea for consumers to participate at some level.


Your individual threshold for when it is appropriate to freeze your card will vary based on personal circumstances and financial experience. Spending 10 or 15 minutes to familiarize yourself with the process for your cards now could save you a lot of headaches in the future.

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