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Freeze Your Discover Card: No Ice Required

Credit Card Basics, Credit Cards
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Freeze Your Discover Card: No Ice Required

If you’ve had the unpleasant experience of canceling a lost credit card and then finding it between your couch cushions the next day, the Nerds feel for you. And so does Discover: The issuer recently released a new card perk that allows you to freeze your lost credit card temporarily, instead of canceling it.

What it means to ‘freeze’ your credit card

Cardholders have been known to freeze their plastic in a block of ice to avoid using it in nonemergency situations. But there’s no frozen water involved here. In this case, after freezing your card online, on the Discover app or over the phone, the card will no longer authorize new purchases, cash advances or balance transfers until you unfreeze your account. This gives you time to find your lost card and the peace of mind that comes from knowing your card won’t be used to pay for someone else’s purchases.

One of the most annoying things about canceling a card is the need to remember to update all of the accounts you’ve set to be automatically paid from your credit card. With the freeze feature, this isn’t an immediate concern. Certain card activity — like recurring bill payments, returns, rewards redemption and credits — will continue to go through normally while your account is frozen.

Discover also has an option to temporarily deactivate your card, instead of freeze it. This allows you to use your card number for card-not-present transactions — like online or over-the-phone purchases — but your physical card can’t be used. This is a decent option if you’re sure that your card is somewhere in your possession and you need to make an online purchase or two. But it isn’t a good option if your card has potentially been stolen, since someone might rack up a tidy balance on your card via an online shopping spree.

» MORE: How to Dispute Fraudulent Credit Card Charges

‘Unfreeze’ with ease

Once you find your card, you can unfreeze it within seconds online, through the Discover app or over the phone. Your account number will stay the same, and transactions will go through normally again.

You can freeze and unfreeze your card as often as you’d like.

If you don’t find your card, it may be necessary to cancel it and get a new one. Discover cards come with $0 fraud liability, but it can be a hassle to deal with the aftermath of a stolen credit card even without any monetary expense. If you think your card has been stolen or lost for good, you should cancel and request a new card immediately. And remember, you’ll need to update any payment accounts with your new card information.

Bottom line: If you lose your Discover card, but you’re pretty confident that you’ll find it, you may want to consider freezing, instead of canceling, your card. Your recurring transactions will still go through, so you won’t have to change your automatic payment information on all of your accounts. Once you find your card, unfreeze your account in seconds. Alternatively, if you don’t find your card, cancel it immediately and Discover will ship you a new one.

Erin El Issa is a staff writer covering personal finance for NerdWallet. Follow her on Twitter @Erin_Lindsay17 and on Google+.


Image via iStock.