Can I freeze my credit card?

How to put a temporary lock on your credit card – and why it might be frozen by the bank.

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If your card is lost or you have another issue to sort out, you may be able to put a temporary freeze or lock on your account. You can do this with credit cards from ANZ, CommBank, NAB, Westpac, St.George and many other providers as a way to help keep your card safe.

Your provider could also freeze your credit card if there is a security issue and they can't get onto you. Usually, this will block your entire credit card account so that it can't be used by you or anyone else. And if you're worried about repayments, you can request a payment pause to get some breathing space.

How to put a temporary lock on your credit card

Locking your credit card is as simple as logging into your account, selecting the card or account options and requesting a temporary freeze. Alternatively, you could call your provider and request a temporary freeze (or ask how to do it through their banking services).

Here's how to freeze your credit card with some of the biggest banks in Australia. Locking your card via these methods is the quickest way to do it, and if and when you need to unlock it again, the process is instant.

ANZ

ANZ logo

  1. Log onto the ANZ app (you will need to download this if you haven't already).
  2. Choose your credit card account, then go to the "Manage" tab.
  3. Tap "Manage card" then follow the prompts to temporarily block your card.

CommBank

CBA logo

  1. Log onto the CommBank app (you will need to download this if you haven't already).
  2. Tap "Cards" on the home screen.
  3. Select the card you want to lock.
  4. Choose the "Lock, Block, Limit" feature.
  5. Select "Lock temporarily".

HSBC

HSBC Logo
For the mobile app:

  1. Log onto the HSBC mobile banking app.
  2. Once on your "Accounts" tab, click on your credit card.
  3. Click on the middle icon where it says "Manage".
  4. Click on "Card controls".

For desktop:

  1. Log onto HSBC Online Banking via the HSBC website.
  2. Go to "My Banking" then click on "Credit Cards Online" (under "Credit Card Services").
  3. Click on "My Card Controls" (under the "Useful Links" section on the left-hand side).

As well as locking your card completely, HSBC also allows you to lock your credit card by transaction type and by country/region. You can also set transaction limits on your card.

NAB

NAB logo

For the mobile app:

  1. Log into the NAB app and select "My Cards" from the menu
  2. Tap on the card you want to temporarily lock
  3. Click on the button next to "Block card" and follow the prompts to confirm the temporary block

For desktop:

  1. Log into your account via the NAB website
  2. Go to "Accounts" or "Settings/Mailbox" and click on "Manage my cards"
  3. Select "My security", then "Report my card lost, stolen or damaged"
  4. Click on the card and select "Misplaced card (temporary block)", then follow the prompts to complete the process

St.George

St.George logo

For the mobile app or desktop:

  1. Log into your account and click on "Services"
  2. Go to the Your Cards section and click on "Lock Card"
  3. Click on the card you want to lock and follow the prompts to confirm

Note: If you haven't unlocked your card within 15 days, it will automatically be unlocked. Call St.George on 13 33 30 if you haven't found your card after 15 days.

Westpac

westpac logo
For the mobile app:

  1. Search for "Lock card".
  2. Tap "Lock card temporarily".
  3. Select your card and move the toggle on.
  4. If you have Worldwide Wallet, tap "Cards", select your card and tap "Lock card temporarily".

For desktop:

  1. Go to "Service" then "Services".
  2. Select "Card Services" then "Lock a card temporarily".
  3. Select your card then select "Lock".

Please note that with Westpac's card locking system, your card will only be locked for 15 days. If you haven't unlocked your card yourself or reported it lost/stolen within 15 days, it will automatically unlock.


If you are still unsure of how to temporarily lock your card, call your provider directly. In most cases, a customer service representative will be able to temporarily freeze your card for you. If this service isn't offered, they can cancel the card and send you a new one.

Want to freeze your credit card payments instead?

If you're struggling to meet your repayments on time as a result of financial hardship, you could consider freezing your account. This means that you can't make new purchases that would add to what you already owe. It's one option you have when you can't make your credit card repayments on time – there are others you can look at too.

Need help right now? Call your credit card provider or get free advice by calling the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.

Why would I need to lock my credit card?

Imagine you go to use your credit card and realise it's missing. You may have misplaced it, or it could be gone for good. In this scenario, putting a temporary lock on your credit card account gives you time to look for it. And if you find it, you can unlock the account.

The alternative to a temporary lock is cancelling the card and waiting for a replacement to be sent in the mail. While this is practical if your card truly is lost, it's frustrating if you cancel your card and then find it – because you'll still need to wait for the new card, then update all your payment details. Having the option to temporarily lock your card gives you a way to avoid this hassle if you end up finding it, and it means that no one else can use the card in the meantime.

Spending control

While less common, freezing a credit card is sometimes looked at as a way to curb spending. Credit card providers might freeze your account if you haven't made a repayment in a few months (known as a default), or if you request support when you're going through financial difficulties.

But putting a temporary freeze on your card isn't really designed for spending control. There is a range of other options that can help you stay on top of credit card spending, such as:

    • Lowering your credit limit for the account
    • Setting a spending limit for certain types of transactions
    • Blocking certain types of transactions

These options vary between cards, but you can check what's available by logging into your account or calling your credit card provider. If you want free financial support, you can also call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.

What happens when my credit card is locked?

The following may happen if your credit card is locked by your provider:

  • You won't be able to use it for spending
  • Your additional cardholders may not be able to pay with their credit card
  • You may not be able to use some complimentary extras (i.e. lounge passes or air miles)
  • If your provider has locked your card, recurring payments/direct debits will not be processed
  • If the credit card lock is self-imposed, recurring payments should not be affected
  • You should still be able to receive deposits into your account

Do I still have to make repayments when my card is temporarily locked?

Although you can't use a locked account for spending, you will still need to meet your repayment requirements, regardless of whether the account is under investigation or whether you've locked the card yourself.

If it turns out that your card has been used for fraudulent transactions, you will have to contact your credit card company and ask them to reverse the transactions, or lodge a dispute with them so that they can investigate it. But, if a payment is due when transactions are under investigation, you will need to pay at least the minimum, or you will risk defaulting.

How to check if your provider has locked or frozen your card

Your bank or provider will try to contact you as soon as possible to let you know about the freeze to your account. If they can't get onto you before freezing the account, you may find that you can't use the card.

Remember, you can call your credit card provider or log into your account at any time to check its status. So if a transaction is declined, try to stay calm and get more information so you can work out a solution.

3 reasons a bank could freeze your credit card

Banks and other credit card providers may freeze your account in order to protect it from fraud. This is so that they can investigate the issue while protecting your money. The two main reasons that a bank may think that fraudulent activity is taking place include:

  1. You're using your card abroad. If you fail to notify the bank prior to leaving, your credit card provider may freeze your account if you start using your card abroad. While it can be incredibly inconvenient to find yourself unable to access funds while away, this is a common indicator of illegal activity.
  2. You're spending unusually. If you've made a number of larger purchases in recent days, your bank or provider may flag this and impose a freeze. Just like using your card abroad, the change in your spending activity can be difficult to distinguish from criminal behaviour.
  3. You're not making repayments. If you default on your credit card repayments, your provider may freeze your account, or some of your perks, until the situation is sorted out. It would be wise to find out more about what you can do if you can't pay your credit card bill so you can find a solution that works for you.

How can I unlock my credit card?

Here's how you can unlock your credit card if you have locked it yourself, or if your bank/provider has locked it on your behalf:

If you've locked it

    • Internet banking or a mobile app. Log into your account or open your banking app and go to the section where you initially locked your card. Then follow the steps to unlock it.
    • Over the phone. Call your provider and ask them to unlock it.

In a branch. If you want to visit a branch to unlock your account, you'll need to take your credit card as well as some valid ID (such as your driver's licence, Medicare card or passport) so that the staff can confirm your identity.

If your provider has locked it

  • Over the phone. Call your provider as soon as you notice the lock on your account. Note that if you are travelling abroad, you will need to contact them on an international 24-hour phone number. You will need to answer a number of security questions and questions about your recent purchase history in order for them to successfully unfreeze the account.
  • In a branch. If you are able to go in person, taking your credit card and valid ID to a branch is a straightforward way to unlock your account.

What if I don't find my credit card?

If you've searched high and low and your card still doesn't make an appearance, it's time to bite the bullet and cancel it. Rest assured that if you have put a lock on your card in the interim, there's no need to worry about fraud, as no one will have been able to use it.

Call your provider as soon as possible and let them know that you have lost your card. They can then check that the card is still frozen, cancel it and send you a new one. Some providers may also have an option for this to be done via their app. How long it takes for your new card to arrive will depend on your provider, but most providers will forward a new card to you within 10 working days.

If you have officially cancelled your card and you do eventually find your old card (as is sometimes the way) that card will now be useless. Cut it up and throw it away. For security reasons, there is no way to reactivate a cancelled card.

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