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Can I freeze my credit card?

How to cancel or freeze your card to gain control of your finances.

There are a few reasons you might want to freeze or lock your credit card. If it gets lost or stolen or used for a fraudulent transaction, freezing your card could help protect your finances. Another reason you might want to freeze your card is if you’re trying to pay down your debt. We’ll walk you through the steps you need to take to freeze your credit card and get control of your finances.

How to freeze a credit card

For lost or stolen cards

If your card has been lost, stolen or you suspect it has been used to make a fraudulent transaction, you should contact your credit card issuer immediately. Be prepared to give them as much information about your account as possible and to answer a list of questions to verify your identity. A declined credit transaction is one clue that your credit card information may have been stolen as well.

However, financial institutions such as TD, RBC and Tangerine have made it easy to freeze or lock your credit card. Simply log in to your online account or through your mobile app and freeze the card. Unfreeze whenever you decide.

If your card has been used fraudulently, you shouldn’t be liable for these costs. Instead, you’ll usually be covered by a no liability agreement such as Mastercard’s Zero Liability Protection and Visa’s Zero Liability.

For getting out of debt

If you’re struggling to repay a growing debt load or want to curb your temptation to spend on plastic, contact your card issuer to freeze access to your funds. You might need to provide some information about your account, including how long you’d like your account frozen. They will not allow you to unfreeze the account until that date.

Once the account is frozen, you can focus on repaying your debt without the temptation to keep spending. Not only will this help get you out of debt, but it’ll also help improve your credit score as your debt to income ratio starts to decrease.

If you’re having trouble paying down your debt because of high-interest rates, you can also consider a low rate balance transfer credit card. You can use this type of card to transfer your balance with a 0% interest rate for a promotional period that usually ranges from 6-10 months. This will allow you to repay your debt without the burden of interest fees while the promotion is in place.

Cancel your credit card

If you’ve repaid all of your debts and want to avoid spending on plastic, you can also cancel your credit card. If it’s a rewards card, make sure to transfer or redeem any points you’ve accumulated, cash in on any free gifts you’ve earned and shift any pre-authorized debits to another account to make sure your bills will still get paid.

The you can contact your bank in person, over the phone or in writing to request that your credit card be closed. You might have to speak to a customer service representative whose job it is to try and convince you to keep the account open. So, be mindful of this and stick to your guns.

Remain firm on your decision to close the account, and politely insist that the your request be processed. Once you’ve received confirmation that the account is canceled, check any remaining statements you receive to ensure that the account is truly closed and that no maintenance fees have accumulated.

Closing one card could increase your utilization rate, which in turn may lower your credit score. You can change this by switching to another card instead.

Bottom line

What you’ll need to do to freeze or cancel your credit card largely depends on your situation and financial goals. Regardless of whether you decide to freeze, transfer your balance or cancel your credit card, make sure you take the time to carefully understand your options beforehand.

If you’re looking to switch to a more affordable card, check out our guide on low-interest credit cards and start compare options today.

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