Lost Credit Card Q&A

January 14, 2010

I lost my credit card a week ago and have been waiting to report a lost card in the hopes that it would turn up. I’ve been logging on every day to check for purchases on my lost card, our American Express Blue Cash, and hadn’t seen any activity since the day it went missing.

Luckily, today I found the lost card “hiding” on the floor of our garage, where I must have dropped it when I climbed out of the car.  I started wondering what would have happened if someone had stolen my credit card and I hadn’t reported it to American Express right away.

Credit Card Fraud Alert

I called them up and quizzed an operator on the proper procedure for a lost credit card.  They assured me that I would never be responsible for fraudulent charges on an AmEx card but said in the future I should call right away if I’ve misplaced my card.

Apparently American Express can put a 24 hour hold on your credit card where no one can use it for that time period. If you find your lost card and call back within 24 hours then they lift the hold and you’re back to charging as normal. If 24 hours passes without them hearing from you, then they invalidate your card and it can’t be used again.

Lost Card Liability

Obviously AmEx takes fraud or identity theft very seriously, I imagine they lose a lot of money from it each year. The rep told me to notify them as soon as possible if your card is missing, that they’re open 24 hours a day so you can call anytime.  (On a side note, I can confirm they’re at least open until 2 AM, which is when I called them up to research this post.  Not only that, the lady was surprisingly cheerful for a middle of the night call.)

Of course my reason for waiting was that I didn’t want to report the credit card lost or stolen then turn around and find it two days later & be without a card.  I figured it was somewhere in the house but in the back of my mind I was worried someone out there might have it.  What I really wanted to know was whether I’d be held liable for any purchases on the credit card if it was missing and I didn’t report it.  The lady said no, that if the charges were fraudulent, I wouldn’t have to pay them but I should report a missing card as soon as possible.

Credit Card Monitoring

My next question was, what if you lose your card and don’t realize it? She assured me that American Express has an account security team that does daily monitoring of transactions and if they detect suspicious or irregular activity they’ll alert you by phone and by email.  Which, as she explains it, is why they asked for my cell phone and email address when I called in tonight.

If any suspicious charges do show up on your card, she said to call up immediately and that they would cancel your card right away.  Then they send the charges over to their fraud group for an investigation into the purchases.

New Credit Cards

If you cancel your card because you lose it or due to someone else using it , American Express will put a new one in the mail and you should have it within 7 business days.  Of course this is kind of a pain, which is why it’s nice to have a backup card.

I also asked about accounts with two cards.   For example, my wife and I use the AmEx Blue Cash but we each have our own card and they each have their own number.  If they were to cancel my card and send off a new one, hers would still work even though it was under the same household.  I’m not sure how this whole process works for Visa cards and Mastercard, I’ll have to call up the customer service rep at Chase and see what their policies are. 


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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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7 Responses to Lost Credit Card Q&A

  • betsy larmon


  • Joan

    If you have lost your billing statement and need help getting the address to make a payment, simply call the toll fee phone number on the back of your credit card. The number will be written in small lettering underneath your signature strip. Most credit card companies also allow you to pay your bill over the phone. To make a payment over the phone you may use the same customer service number on the back of your credit card.

  • Erik

    make sure you don’t wait very long if you think you lost your card. It’s a lot harder to explain charges on your card if you wait a week to report it lost or stolen.

  • Ben

    @Craig, you’re right, if it’s stolen I’d cancel the card right away. I was pretty sure it would eventually turn up in my house so I held out on canceling.

  • jerry

    First off, I’m glad that the garage floor yielded up the missing card! But it’s true that Amex is great about not having a stolen card lead to problems down the road, and you have the insurance of them having your back if the unthinkable occurs.

  • Craig

    When my CC was stolen I canceled it right away and immediately got a new one sent. It sucks and you don’t want to think about it.


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