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What to do if you can't find your credit card

Losing a credit card happens to the best of us. But if you act fast and contact your card issuer as soon as possible, you won't have to pay for any charges made without your authorization and can get a replacement card quickly. Legally, you cannot be held responsible for any charges made after your card is reported missing.

Here's what you can do:

How to report a lost credit card

Your credit card issuer is the first place you should turn if you discover that one of your cards has disappeared.

  1. Contact your card issuer to speak to a representative. Find your issuer's phone number from your credit card statements or, if they have a web-chat feature on their website, connect with a representative over chat. This step is necessary to close your card account and secure a replacement credit card.
  2. Consider locking the card. The card issuer may allow you to lock or replace your card in their app or by logging in to your online card account. This step ensures that your credit card won't be usable if someone finds it but can be reopened if you find it.
  3. Confirm any recent charges. The representative is likely to read through your recent charges to identify which are legitimate. Honesty matters: Reporting any legitimate charges as unauthorized would constitute fraud and violate the terms of your card agreement.

Per federal regulation, your responsibility is limited to $50 if your card is lost or stolen when you provide adequate notice to your credit card issuer. Still, to keep from being held responsible for any unauthorized charges, be sure to reach out to your card issuer as soon as you notice your card has gone missing.

How do I replace a lost credit card?

When you report your card as lost or stolen to the issuer's representative, they will arrange for a new card to be sent to you. Most times, you'll receive a replacement in 3-5 business days but this time frame can vary depending on your bank or credit issuer. Although it can depend on your issuer, this is usually the process of how to get a new credit card.

You may not always be given the option to expedite the replacement process: it takes time for the new card to be printed with your personal information. Once you receive your replacement:

  • Update any linked accounts. If your old card number was saved with merchants for recurring charges-such as streaming subscriptions or utility bills -- you will need to provide those merchants with your new card information.
  • Check your next statement closely. When you receive your next card statement, look closely at any unauthorized charges made around the time your old card was lost. Report these unauthorized charges to your card issuer as soon as possible to limit your liability.
  • Safeguard your new credit card information. Follow privacy best practices with your new card: Sign the back of the card, don't write the card number down and only use the card with merchants you trust.

Does a lost credit card affect your credit score?

Replacing a credit card won't affect your credit score. Even if you get a new card with a new 16-digit number, the card account and the age of that account remain the same for the purpose of credit reporting.

Still, if one of your cards goes missing, there are a few prudent steps you can take after reporting the lost card to ensure your credit isn't negatively affected:

  • Be sure you pay what you owe on the old card
    Replacing a credit card doesn't zero out what you owe. Even if the card is no longer active, you'll still be liable for the charges you incurred when the card was in your possession.
  • Monitor and protect your identity
    One smart step if you're concerned about the risk of identity theft is to place a freeze on your credit profile with one of the credit reporting bureaus. You only need to place the freeze with one of three bureaus as the others will be automatically notified.
  • Check your credit report closely
    You are entitled to one free credit report annually from each of the three credit reporting agencies. Consider staggering these reports in the months after your card is lost or stolen so you can watch for any unauthorized activity.

What to do if you find your missing credit card

If you find your missing credit card, you can contact the card issuer at the number on the back of the card to let them know you've found it. Depending on timing, they may instruct you to destroy and dispose of the card and begin using the replacement card that they've arranged to be sent to your address.