What to do If you lose your debit card: Immediate steps

Losing your debit or credit card is stressful. Here’s how to keep your account safe.
6 min read
  • If you lose your debit card, there are a few things you can do to lessen the blow and keep your money safe.
  • Follow these four clear steps if your debit card disappears, including how to report it as lost or stolen, and what to do if you’re traveling.
  • Taking action as soon as you realize your debit card is lost can help you reduce risk and protect your finances.

Whether you’re at home, at a restaurant, or at the cash register, discovering that your debit card is missing can be super stressful. But don’t panic—if your card is lost or was stolen, there are steps you can take to protect your funds. The important thing is to take action right away. In this article, we’ll walk you through the four steps you need to take if you misplace your debit or credit card. We’ll also cover special situations, like what to do if your credit or debit card is stolen or if you lose your card while traveling. Let’s go!

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Step 1: Lock your debit card

These days, many banks offer customers the possibility to lock their card automatically from their smartphone or online bank account. If you aren’t sure if you’ve really lost your debit card, or simply misplaced it, locking your card is a great way to make sure that no fraudulent transactions are made while you’re searching. If you find your card, you can simply unlock it and go back to business as usual. If you still can’t find it after you’ve completed the following steps, then it’s time to contact your bank. Of course, if locking your card on your own isn’t an option, you may need to call your bank to ask them to lock it for you. Also, think about any automatic debits you might have linked to your account for things like utilities or rent. You might want to have a back-up plan for those payments while your card is locked, so that you don’t miss anything important or incur pesky late fees. 

Step 2: Check your account history

If you realize that your debit or credit card is missing, the first thing you should do is check your account for any charges you don’t recognize. If bad actors have gotten their hands on your card, they may have tried to make fraudulent charges to your account. Spotting these can tip you off that your card is in nefarious hands and that you should call your bank immediately. Alternatively, finding no suspicious activity on your account can set your mind at ease as you search for your missing card. 

Step 3: Retrace your steps

Once you’ve secured your money, think about where you’ve been since the card went missing. Perhaps you can even pinpoint the last time you used it. And, like many of us, you may discover your missing debit card in a jacket pocket or lying somewhere around the house. If your card still hasn’t reappeared, you can call or stop by any restaurants, stores, or other locations you’ve visited recently. Debit cards are often found at cash registers, stuck in payment terminals, or on restaurant tables, so it’s worth checking at these places. Also, because there are good samaritans out there, be sure to check lost and found forums where people may have turned in your card. 

Step 4: Cancel your card

Provided your card is locked, you may want to wait a few days to see if the card turns up. However, if there’s no sign of it after that, it’s time to call your bank to cancel your debit card. This way, no one who finds it can access your money. The bank will cancel your lost debit card, reissue you a new one, and send you a new PIN. Once you’ve activated your new card, you’ll be all set.

What to do if your card was stolen

If you discover that your card was stolen, contact your bank right away. They’ll be able to cancel your card and issue you a new one. If you’ve noticed any transactions on your account that you didn’t make, ask your bank what the procedure is. They may investigate themselves or ask you to file a police report.  It’s also a good idea to change your passwords and account details right away. 

What to do if you lost your debit card while traveling

Losing your card while traveling can be particularly stressful—but if it does happen, there are plenty of ways to keep your money safe. The first step is to plan ahead when traveling. Pay in advance as much as possible, in case you find yourself low on cash while on your journey. Always bring more than one card with you. When sightseeing, only take one card with you and leave the other in a hotel safe in case you get pickpocketed. If you discover that you’ve lost your debit card while traveling, lock your card yourself or contact your bank and have them lock or deactivate your card immediately. Flag any suspicious activity with them directly, or file a police report if you notice that other items have been stolen. If you’re traveling long-term, see if your bank can ship your new debit card to your current address. While you’re waiting, you can use your other card, or if you don’t have access to other means of payment, consider wiring yourself some money.

Keeping your debit card safe while traveling

Traveling should be all about enjoyment, not stress. Here’s how to keep your debit card secure and your mind at ease:Store your debit card securely 
  • Always store your debit card in a hidden spot like a money belt, interior pocket, or a concealed pouch.
  • Opt for RFID-blocking wallets to shield your card information from fraudulent scanning technology.
Use ATMs carefully
  • Use ATMs in well-lit, busy locations and choose reputable providers, such as banks.
  • Cover the keypad when entering your PIN and stay alert, especially if you’re withdrawing large amounts of cash.
Only carry what you need
  • Take only the essential cards for your trip and store any extras in your hotel safe.
  • Consider getting a travel-specific debit card with a set spending limit.
Monitor your account activity
  • Use your banking app to monitor your account regularly.
  • Turn on transaction alerts to keep on top of your finances.
Make a backup plan
  • Keep a secure copy of your card details and your bank’s emergency contact information.
  • Carry an alternative payment method, like a credit card or a prepaid travel card.
Get travel insurance
  • Make sure your travel insurance includes coverage for lost or stolen cards.
With these straightforward steps, you can focus on enjoying your journey, knowing your debit card — and your money — is safe.

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Better banking with N26

Losing your debit card is no fun. But with expert security features like smartphone pairing and biometric authentication, N26 is the bank that puts your security first. Lock and unlock your card in seconds right from your smartphone, and get instant notifications for every payment, so you can rest assured that your money is safe—even if your card is missing. Plus, N26 has a full banking license, meaning your deposits are protected up to €100,000. Learn more about security at N26 and how to keep your account safe. 

  • I lost my debit card. How can I withdraw money?
  • Should I cancel or freeze my debit card?
  • How to cancel a debit card
  • What do I do if I lose my debit card while traveling?
  • How can I access my funds if I lose my card while traveling abroad?
  • What should I do if my card is lost or stolen in a foreign country with a different language or currency?

BY N26Love your bank

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