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[Disclosure: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]

Have you ever misplaced your credit card, but weren’t sure if it was truly lost or stolen? When this happens, you may want to cancel your card, but then you know that you will have a lot of inconvenient problems to deal with. On the other hand, you might continue to look for the card, by which time a thief could be going on a spending spree with it.

But now, one credit card offers customers a third option when they want to temporarily disable their account without declaring their card lost or stolen. Discover cards now have an option called Freeze it that allows cardholders to suspend their card when it is misplaced.

How Freeze it works

Cardholders can now go to the Discover website or mobile app and place a freeze on their account, or by calling Discover. This triggers a freeze on new transactions including cash advances and balance transfers, but bills that are marked as “reoccuring” for merchants (i.e. automatically scheduled bill payments) will still go through. This feature is available to Discover it cardholders, all of which have no annual fee, as well as any other consumer Discover card.

Without this feature, cardholders who choose to cancel their credit cards would have to wait until a new card can be printed and physically delivered to them. Also, those who have set up automatic bill payments with the canceled card would have to contact each biller, cancel the payment, and provide them with a new card number.

Other Possible Uses for Freeze it

While Discover is promoting this feature as a way to combat potential fraud without reporting a card lost or stolen, it is conceivable that cardholders could use this feature in other ways. For example, some credit card users have taken to actually freezing their credit cards in blocks of ice in order to help control overspending, rein in their debt and boost their credit (you can see how your credit card spending is affecting your credit scores for free on Credit.com). Freezing their account in this manner could be a more practical alternative, yet the impracticality of melting a large ice block is part of the attraction of the original method.

Other Ways to Avoid Reporting Cards Lost or Stolen

As mobile wallet providers gain traction among credit card users, we could see a time when loss or theft of physical credit cards become rare. This will result in both more convenience for cardholders and fewer expenses for credit card issuers, who must print and mail out new cards, often using an overnight delivery service. Furthermore, the addition of EMV smart chips has increased the cost to manufacture new credit cards from around 10 cents each to more than a dollar.

Finally, cardholders must also be aware that they are always protected from fraudulent charges by the Fair Credit Billing Act, which limits their liability to a maximum of $50. In practice, nearly all credit card issuers waive this limit by offering zero liability policies.

At publishing time, the Discover it card is offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

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  • Rebecca

    My credit card with Higher One, which is a bank for college students has had this for years. I use it everyday and it’s a great tool! Discover isn’t the first card to offer this, however I’m glad it’s catching on finally. All the best!

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