There are few things scarier than a lost credit card. Many Americans rely solely on their credit cards for their daily living expenses, so having your card lost (or stolen!) can seem devastating. This is especially true for anyone who relies on their credit card to auto-pay bills or to pay for basics in their lives, like their Netflix subscription or their kids’ school lunches.
However, a lost credit card does not have to be traumatic. You can take some simple steps to minimize any damage that might occur if someone tries to use your credit card and protect your information in the process. Here is what you should do if your credit card goes missing.
Lost Credit Card? Follow These Steps
Notify Your Credit Card Company
The first and most important step that you should take is to either call your credit card company or use an online platform (website or app) to report that you have a lost credit card or a stolen one. It is important to do this as soon as possible.
Under the Truth in Lending Act, if you inform the company within 48 hours of losing it, you are responsible for no more than $50 in fraudulent charges. If you wait longer than 48 hours, then you could be on the hook for $500. However, if you wait for a full 60 days, then you might be responsible for all charges made on the card. The lesson is clear: report your missing credit card as soon as possible.
Check for Unauthorized Charges
Next, check your account for any charges that you don’t recognize. The fastest (and easiest) way to do this is by logging into your online account or by using your credit card’s app, since it may take a few weeks to get a statement and calling may take a long time.
Go through every charge made since you noticed your card was missing. If you made all of the charges, then you are in the clear—for now. You should still keep an eye on your account, but you can move on to the final step.
However, if you do notice fraudulent charges, contact your credit card company immediately. Most banks have a policy of not charging cardholders for unauthorized charges on their card. This means that if your credit card company has a $0 liability policy for fraudulent charges, you won’t be held responsible for even the minimum amount of $50—as long as you report the charges in a timely manner.
Get a Replacement Card
The last step is getting a replacement credit card. When your credit card is lost or stolen, you can have your card replaced without your account being closed. This will not affect your credit the way that an account closing and a new account being opened would. However, because you will have a new credit card number, you may need to change the number for any auto-pay services that you may have set up for your bills.
Many banks offer expedited shipping for replacement credit cards, including overnight shipping. As noted above, because so many people rely on credit cards to conduct their daily business, having a valid credit card is important to do everyday things, like shop online, pay bills, or buy airline tickets. If your credit card company attempts to charge you a fee for expedited shipping, you can and should argue this. Most companies will waive the fee for you—and you will have your credit card within a day or two.
Note that if you are overseas when you lose your credit card, some credit card companies offer additional services, such as getting a credit card to your hotel or even giving you an emergency cash advance (if necessary) to help you until your card arrives. However, if you are traveling abroad, it makes sense to keep some local currency on hand in case your credit card is lost or stolen.
A lost credit card can be a pain in the neck, but it doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. Laws are in place to protect consumers, so as long as you are diligent about reporting your credit card as lost or stolen and notifying your credit card company about any fraudulent charges. Just follow this simple guide, and you’ll be back to swiping (or typing in your credit card number) in no time!