What does a suspended credit card mean?

It could happen to anyone: You try to use your credit card and it’s declined. It might be because your card has been suspended, which is when a credit card issuer has temporarily locked or frozen an account. 

Learn the reasons a credit card account might be suspended or restricted. And get the lowdown on potential fixes and impacts on credit scores.

Key takeaways

  • Credit card charges might be declined if your credit card has been suspended or restricted.
  • Your credit card might be suspended or restricted because the card hasn’t been activated, there have been unusual transactions or payments are late. 
  • It’s a good idea to contact your credit card issuer to learn why your card has been suspended or restricted.
  • Credit card suspension on its own may not affect your credit scores. But your scores could be affected if your credit card suspension is related to late payments or the suspension results in your account being closed.

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Why was your credit card suspended?

If your credit card was suspended, it might be related to:

  • Credit limit: Making a purchase that puts your credit card balance over its limit might prevent you from using your card. 
  • Fraud: If there are suspicious transactions, your card could be suspended to help avoid charges you didn’t authorize. 
  • Late payments: If you fall behind on payments, your card could be suspended. That’s one reason it’s important to try to make at least the minimum payments on time every month.

Keep in mind that a suspended card doesn’t mean the account is closed. It could just mean you’re temporarily unable to use the credit card.

What should you do if your credit card has been suspended?

The first thing to do if your credit card has been declined is contact your card issuer. There may be a simple issue. For example, you may have received a new card when your old card expired and simply need to activate the new one. 

However, if you’ve missed payments, you might need to pay the overdue amount or figure out other arrangements. 

If you’ve reached your credit limit, you may need to pay down your outstanding balance before being able to resume using your card. But Capital One cardholders may be able to exceed their credit limits if they have access to the Confirm Purchasing Power tool.

Does credit card suspension affect your credit scores?

It can be inconvenient when your credit card is suspended. But what does it do to your credit scores? If the suspension is permanent, it could lead to your account being closed. That can affect multiple credit-scoring factors, including credit age, credit mix and credit utilization ratio.

Payment history is another credit-scoring factor. So if your account was suspended because of late payments, they could also affect your credit scores. Plus, those late payments can stay on your credit reports for up to seven years from when they were reported.

Can you reactivate a suspended credit card?

If your card’s been suspended, you could contact your credit card issuer to see what options you have. The ability to reactivate suspended or restricted accounts might depend on the issuer’s policy and the circumstances of the suspension.

How can you avoid credit card suspension?

To help prevent the unpleasant surprise of a suspended credit card, here are some steps you can take:

  • Make your payments on time. Missing payments for an extended period of time could lead to a permanent suspension of your account.
  • Keep a close eye on your spending. Knowing your balance and how close you are to the credit limit can help you stay below your limit.
  • Sign up for fraud and security notifications. Depending on your issuer, you might be notified of suspicious transactions, such as large or unusual purchases. 
  • Notify your lender if you’re planning to travel abroad or make an unusually large purchase. Some issuers may not require it, but it could help to make sure there are no blocks on your account that might cause trouble.

Suspended credit cards in a nutshell

When it comes to credit card suspensions, it helps to know more about the reason behind them and how to respond. 

You can sign in to your Capital One account to check the status of your card. And if you want to dig deeper into your credit, you can sign up for CreditWise from Capital One. It’s free and available to everyone—even if you don’t have a Capital One credit card. And using CreditWise won’t hurt your credit scores.

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