What to do if you lose your credit card

Two years ago, I took a trip to London and Paris with my family. While on a day trip to Leeds, I made the silly mistake of leaving my Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card in the terminal when I bought lunch. I didn't realize it until I was back to London with no way of getting my card back.

I wasn’t worried because I had a plan for what to do if I lost my credit card on the other side of the world. It doesn’t matter if you are at home, across the country, or across the globe: follow along to learn what to do if you lose your credit card.

Inform your bank immediately

The first thing to do when you notice a card is missing is to call your card issuer and tell them. While you don’t have the card in hand to look at the phone number on the back, you can find it online or in the documentation that came with your card.
Most credit cards offer a $0 fraud liability for unauthorized purchases, but if the bank does not know the card is lost, people can keep making charges using your name. Call the bank so they can shut off your old card and prevent any new charges on the account.
On the same call, the bank will offer to mail you a replacement. When I lost my Sapphire Preferred card in London, Chase offered to send my replacement card to my next hotel in Paris, as it would take a couple of days to make a new card and ship it across the world. I was covered with a backup, so there was no harm in waiting a couple of days for the replacement.
Replacement cards can make it anywhere in the world in an emergency. Once, my sister lost a card while on a sailing trip in the Greek islands. The bank sent her a new card to a small hotel on a tiny island. It was a blank card with no bank logos, but it worked. That’s what mattered.

Use a backup card temporarily

While you are waiting for your replacement card to arrive, you'll need another credit card for any purchases that come up. This is why it is a good idea to have at least two credit card accounts at any given time. You don't want to get stuck unable to make an important purchase!

While on my European adventure without my Sapphire Preferred card, I had two backup credit cards and my debit card with me, as well, plus cash. I kept a second credit card in my wallet (came in handy in this case!) and the third back at my accommodations so I wouldn’t be stuck if I lost my wallet.

Update your automatic payments

When you lose a credit card, your bank will issue you a new account number. This is not a completely new account, so it should not have any negative impact to your credit score. However, it can affect recurring bills.
I have several bills each month automatically charge to my credit card, so when I lost it I had to log into those biller websites to update the information to my new card. It was a small hassle, but only took about 15 minutes and I was all set.
For the billers you forget, you can expect to hear from them soon. I got an email from Netflix telling me that my card didn’t go through. Clicking the link in the message made updating the card a quick and easy task.

Losing a debit card can be worse than losing a credit card , however. When you lose a credit card, the issuer simply removes the unauthorized charges. When you lose a debit card and someone uses it, that money comes right out of your bank account and you may have a higher liability than with a credit card. You should get most, if not all, of your money back. However, it can take months for that to happen.

Losing a credit card is not the end of the world

Losing a credit card is an inconvenience, but it is not a costly one. It is far from the end of the world. If you lose a credit card, don’t be too hard on yourself. It can happen to anyone. Just get a new card and move forward with your new number, and try to be a little more careful next time.

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