Credit cards can be frozen for many reasons, usually to prevent fraud or to stop yourself spending and racking up debt. Freezing interest charges is also possible if you are in financial difficulty, but will require a longer conversation with your provider about your affordability.
Freezing a credit card for lost or stolen cards
The most common reason to freeze a credit card is when it’s been lost or stolen. This is to prevent fraud and will stop use of your card by anyone else. But it is a temporary measure if you think you’ve misplaced your card, which means that if you find it you can later remove the freeze. You should cancel your card and request a new one if you are worried it may have fallen into the wrong hands.
You are covered for all purchases or transactions made on the card after it has been frozen. Many lenders will also cover any fraudulent purchases made before the cancellation, but they may charge you for the first £50 of this total. All this depends on the terms and conditions of your credit agreement.
Freezing a credit card to reduce debt
Freezing a credit card prevents you or anyone else from making further purchases. This means you can also freeze your card to control your spending. You can freeze it completely to prevent any further spending in order to chip away at the amount owed.
Certain lenders will allow you to freeze specific payment types as well. This can be handy if you are worried about particular types of spending. Some examples include freezing:
- Online payments
- Payments taken abroad
- Payments at tills and terminals
- Contactless payments
- Cash withdrawals
Will my bank or provider freeze the card?
Sometimes banks and lenders freeze credit card accounts themselves. Again this will relate to one of two things, either the risk of fraud or worries around your ability to pay the money back.
One of the most common reasons is when unusual activity takes place. This could be a flurry of foreign payments, or out of character purchases (usually large amounts). If you plan to use your card in any way that might seem unusual, it’s best to warn your lender beforehand so they know it is you.
Your provider may also freeze your card payments as a consequence of persistent debt. This is when more of the money you have repaid has gone on charges and interest payments than paying the debt off within an 18-month period.
When this happens, your lender will have a number of policies that they implement to help you get out of the situation. Freezing your card to prevent you from spending will be one of those options. They will not do this without forewarning you.
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Can you freeze interest on a credit card?
In certain situations, it’s possible to freeze interest charges. This is usually done when you enter financial difficulty and will be part of a plan to get you back on track with your debts. If you find yourself in this situation you’ll need to speak to your lender. They’ll ask you a series of questions about your spending and try to present the best possible solution.
While this may seem daunting, it’s common for lenders to be in this position. They will have policies and procedures to deliver the best solution, as it’s in their interest to avoid things getting more serious. And although there is no guarantee that they will freeze interest, they are obliged to consider your financial situation. This is to make sure you are being treated fairly, as part of the legislation from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
How to freeze your credit card
- Ask yourself why you’re trying to freeze your card, as when you speak to your lender you will need to explain this
- Make sure you have the information your lender needs before the call. If it’s because it’s been stolen, try to remember the details of last time you used the card. If it’s related to debt issues then have records of your spending, or if you are trying to reduce interest then have details of alternative lenders.
- Contact your lender. You can do this via phone, but you may also be able to do it online or within an app. If the card is with your bank you may be able to go into your local branch, but you will likely still need to speak to a specialist on the phone.
Is it bad to freeze my credit card?
Freezing your credit card will not show up on your credit file, so it will not directly impact your credit score.
However, the reasons for it being frozen may appear negatively on your credit history. Examples include when you have taken out a debt management plan or the freezing is a consequence of defaulting or missing payments.
When can I use my credit card again after it’s been frozen?
If you have placed the freeze on the card yourself, contact your lender to let them know you would like the freeze removed. You can usually do this in your banking branch, over the phone or, if the capabilities are offered by your lender, within an app or online. Bear in mind it may still take up to 72 hours for this to be processed.
If your card has been frozen directly by your provider, the length of time before it unfreezes will depend on your circumstances. This will be something you will need to discuss with your lender directly.