New Credit Card Feature: The Kill Switch

Ever misplace your credit card?  You know the feeling…where you don’t want to contact your credit card company and have them issue you a replacement..because it may be buried in a pocket of a jacket somewhere.

Discover came out with an announcement today that will provide cardholders with the power to freeze (and unfreeze) their accounts in a convenient and timely fashion.  From NBC News:

That’s what “Freeze It,” the new security feature rolled out by Discover this week, enables its cardholders to do.  Throw the switch – using the mobile app, via the web or calling the toll-free number – and in seconds that Discover card is turned off. This will prevent new purchases, cash advances and balance transfers until the card is turned back on. Automatic charges to that card will continue as scheduled.

With the cost of new chip and signature credit cards rising and the competitive nature of the credit card industry, I expect this option to be available with other cards too.  As one expert noted, this could fundamentally change the way we protect our credit cards (and reduce identity theft in the process):

Ken Paterson, vice president of research operations at the Mercator Advisory Group, expects the “Freeze It” feature to be well-received. It capitalizes on the growing interest in self-service banking and the demand for improved credit card security, he said.

“Presuming this technology works as efficiently as it sounds, people may decide to leave their Discover card turned off all the time and just turn it on when they’re ready to make a purchase,” Paterson told NBC News. “Turn it on, make the purchase, and then shut it down again.”