Why Is My Capital One Card Restricted?

From fraud alerts to poor credit management, there are several reasons your Capital One card may be suspended. Here's what to know.
Craig Joseph
By Craig Joseph 
Edited by Erin Hurd

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Having a credit card unexpectedly declined can be frustrating and embarrassing. Often when this happens, the card has become restricted by the card issuer, usually temporarily. This restriction suspends your account, freezing your ability to make purchases.

If your Capital One card is restricted, you should first contact the bank to find out why. Depending on the reason, you may be able to use your card again in a matter of minutes.

Here’s what to know if your Capital One card has been suspended.

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Why is your Capital One card suspended?

If your credit card gets declined and you aren’t sure why, start by calling Capital One at the number on the back of your card.

The primary reasons why your card may have been suspended include:

  • New card: If you've recently opened the account, or just received a new card in the mail, you may have forgotten to activate the card. It's a simple fix — call the number on your card and follow the steps to activate it. 

  • Fraud alert: Card issuers use algorithms to identify trends in your spending habits. You might receive a fraud alert if the system sees a spending irregularity, such as a big purchase, using your card in a new location or buying something from a foreign website. Fraud alerts are generally easy to clear and often can be done in real-time via text message or the card’s app. If your card is new or you’ve recently received a replacement card, you may need to take it slow with charges, at least at first. Rapid spending on a newly issued card can look like irresponsible credit management or fraud and lead to a restriction on your account.

  • Expired card: Be sure to check your card’s expiration date. It’s easy to overlook, and if your card is expired, transactions won’t get processed. Contact your issuer for a new card, and if you need a replacement fast, see if it has an option to expedite the new card.

  • Late payment(s): If you’ve missed one or multiple payments, your card issuer may suspend your ability to make new purchases until your account is brought up to date. Contact your issuer to see what exactly you owe and what it will require to clear the suspension. 

  • Exceeding your credit limit: Your card may get declined if you attempt a charge beyond your credit limit. If you need more credit temporarily, you may be able to opt-in to over-limit purchases with Capital One. There’s no fee (though other issuers may charge a fee), and it will be up to the bank’s discretion whether to permit additional charges. If it declines your request, you’ll have to pay down the card’s balance to regain access to your existing credit line. 

How to deal with a suspended credit card

If your Capital One card is suspended for a fraud alert, you may be able to clear the restriction by replying to an automatic verification text message or email sent by Capital One.

If your account is restricted due to another reason, you’ll likely have to call Capital One to figure out what the issue is. Be sure to ask why your account was restricted and what steps are required to clear the suspension. You may also want to ask Capital One what you can do to avoid future restrictions.

Will a suspended credit card impact your credit score?

Your credit score isn't directly impacted by a suspended card, but the underlying cause of the suspension may adversely affect your credit score. A fraud alert won’t hurt your score. However, if you miss a payment or have a high credit utilization ratio, your credit score may be negatively impacted.

How can you avoid a credit card suspension?

Responsible credit management will help you appear as a lower risk to Capital One (or any card issuer). This is the easiest way to avoid a credit card restriction.

But things happen. If late payments are a problem, schedule an auto-payment to at least cover the minimum required amount each month to prevent your account from becoming delinquent. If you’re perpetually running up against your credit limit while otherwise making on-time payments, request a credit line increase to have more flexibility with your available credit.

If you know you'll be traveling or making a large purchase, preemptively contacting Capital One with your plans can be a good way to avoid a potentially frustrating fraud alert and card suspension.

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