Credit cards that offer a pause button — and when to use it

Feb 6, 2021

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Editor’s note: This story has been updated with the latest information.

When you’ve misplaced your favorite credit card, what do you do? Everyone who uses credit cards has likely had this happen at least once. You could retrace your steps with the hope of finding the missing card at the last restaurant you ate at, or perhaps in the pocket of the pants you wore yesterday.

The safe bet, though, is to contact the card issuer and report it missing. However, this will permanently invalidate the lost card, and you’ll have to wait until you receive a replacement. This can be troublesome, especially if you have high hopes that the card will turn up in a few days.

Fortunately though, there is a better option. Many major credit card issuers allow you to temporarily disable a particular card, and reactivate it later. As you’ll see, it has lots of potential uses, even beyond a misplaced card.

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Featured image by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy

Major card issuers that offer a pause button

Here’s a look at which issuers offer this option.

American Express Freeze Your Card

American Express’s Free Your Card option prevents your card from being used for new purchases, but allows payment of recurring bills on the account. You can also continue to use for digital wallet transactions, like Apple Pay or Samsung Pay. However, your card will automatically be unfrozen in seven days. Both primary and authorized card holders can use this feature. Amex also makes it extremely easy to freeze and unfreeze your card right in the Amex app.

Bank of America Lock/Unlock

Although Bank of America makes it incredibly easy to lock and unlock your card, this feature is only available to Bank of America debit card holders.

Barclays SecurHold™

Barclays allows you to instantly lock and unlock your card from its mobile app. And to go one step further, they offer a Control Your Card feature, which allows you to set transaction limits and even block certain purchases for yourself or authorized users. This is a great feature since Barclays is one of the few card issuers that gives authorized users unique card numbers. The Barclays app can also notify you of each transaction in real time, which can be great for monitoring spending and catching fraudulent purchases as soon as they happen.

Capital One Card Lock

Capital One’s Card Lock feature allows you to easily lock and unlock your card straight from the mobile app.  It blocks all in-store, online, in-app and phone purchases for cards. However, you can continue to return items, make payments and redeem rewards while your card is locked.

Chase Lock and Unlock

This feature allows Chase card holders to lock and unlock their credit card from the Chase Mobile app or on their computer. Locking the card doesn’t affect automatic payments, so there are no disruptions to recurring charges. You also can still use your digit wallet to make purchases. However, when you lock your card, it will lock any other cards that share the same account number.

Citi Quick Lock

Citi allows card holders to lock and unlock their credit card online or from its mobile app. Even when your card is locked, recurring transactions will still hit your credit card without any disruption.

Discover Freeze it®

Discover was one of the first card issuers to offer a card freeze feature, which can be activated online or through its mobile app. Even though Discover will not authorize new purchases, cash advances or balance transfers while your account is on hold, recurring payments, returns, dispute adjustments and delayed authorized will still post to your account.

US Bank Lock and Unlock

A relatively new feature to US Bank is that they now offer the capability to lock and unlock your card. The easiest way to do this with US Bank is from their mobile app.

Wells Fargo Control Tower

Wells Fargo Control Tower allows you to turn your cards on and off, as well as restrict international use. It will also allow you to view digital wallets and turn digital card numbers stored in your devices on or off. Recurring payments may still be approved or processed even if you turn your card off.

When to use your credit card’s pause button

Aside from misplacing your credit card, there are many other situations where a pause button can come in handy.

To control spending: Credit cards are so convenient to use that some people overspend. By pressing pause on your credit card it could help you control any impulse purchases. This extra step might also make you think twice on whether or not you actually need to make that particular purchase.

Put your cards in safe mode: If you have cards that you don’t use often, or you only use for recurring monthly payments, then you might want to pause them to prevent unauthorized use. This is an extra measure of security for those cards, especially if you don’t look at these accounts often enough to pick up on fraudulent charges.

Controlling the use of authorized card holders: Pressing pause can be a good way to prevent an authorized card holder from using his or her card. Just keep in mind that not all card issuers will freeze authorized cards holders when you freeze the primary card members’ account.

Bottom line

It’s great that most major card issuers now offer the option of temporarily pausing your credit card. Best of all, this feature is completely free and typically there is no limit on the number of times you lock or unlock your account.

Of course, if it becomes apparent that your card is never to be found again, you’ll want to call the card issuer to let them know. They’ll then send you a new card, but unfortunately it will come with a different card number.

Photo by mediaphotos / Getty Images

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