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Can I freeze my credit card?

Many banks let you put a temporary lock on your credit card. Here's how it works and other situations when your card can be frozen.

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 or you're experiencing hardship. Usually, they will contact you and block your entire credit card account until the situation is resolved.

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.

If you want a step-by-step guide, we have also included details on how to temporarily lock your credit card with some of the big banks in Australia.

ANZ

ANZ logo

  1. Log into 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 into the CommBank app or NetBank.
  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 into the HSBC mobile banking app.
  2. Go to the "Accounts" tab and select your credit card.
  3. Select "Manage", then "Card controls" and follow the prompts.

For desktop:

  1. Log into HSBC Online Banking.
  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 lets you 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. Tap the toggle 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. Select "Cards" from the menu and choose the card you want to temporarily block.
  3. Select "On" next to the option to "Temporarily block your card" and follow the prompts to confirm the block.

St.George

St.George logo

For the mobile app or desktop:

  1. Log into your account and click on "Services"
  2. Go to the "My 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. Log in and select "Cards" from the menu.
  2. Select the card you want to temporarily lock.
  3. Tap "Lock card temporarily".

For desktop:

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

Please note that with Westpac's card locking system, your card will be locked for up to 15 days. You can unlock it earlier, or choose to re-lock it after 15 days if necessary.


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 having trouble making credit card repayments on time, contact your bank. They can discuss hardship options with you, such as a payment pause or freeze on your account. Finder also has a guide on what happens when you can't make your credit card repayments, including other options.

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?

Putting a temporary lock on your credit card account gives you time to look for it if you have misplaced it. 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. This is practical if your card is stolen or has been used for fraud. But it does mean you need to wait for the new card and update all your payment details. So, aving 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 three 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've lost my card for good?

Contact your provider as soon as possible and let them know that you have lost your card or cancel it through your account.

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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Written by

Amy Bradney-George

Amy Bradney-George was the senior writer for credit cards at Finder, and editorial lead for Finder Green. She has over 16 years of editorial experience and has been featured in publications including ABC News, Money Magazine and The Sydney Morning Herald. See full profile

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