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Activation is a security measure so that we know the customer actually got the card." Safe and sound To stymie an attempted card theft, your issuer may ask questions to which only you know the answers.
It did worry me a bit that I was able to use it without activating; however, Am Ex is very good when there is a disputed charge." The sticker solution So if nonactivation doesn't necessarily paralyze your card, why do card issuers bother with that tiny sticker that orders you to call and activate?
One news report details a woman charging more than 0 with no problem.
Keep on shopping While certain card issuers, including Discover and Wells Fargo, mail cards that can't be used without activation, some, such as Capital One and Bank of America, may allow small purchases -- a coffee at Starbucks, for instance, or an online buy.
Cynics would say the likely reason is that your phone call to activate your credit card provides your bank a golden opportunity to sell you something. "We have a credit card, which routinely seems to be compromised in some way, according to the credit card company, so they cancel the card and send us new ones," she says.
Once they have you on the phone, bank customer service representatives often launch into an extended sales spiel offering such add-ons as theft protection and credit monitoring. "Of course, when we call to activate the new cards, there is always a sales pitch along the lines of, 'Since your card was compromised, you should sign up for all of the identity protection services we offer.' It happens so frequently that my husband and I are beginning to think they're just doing this so that you have to call them, then they try to sell you stuff." But to Ho, of Wells Fargo, the activation call is exactly what it purports to be: a way to make sure your new credit card got to the right place. Our credit cards are sent through the mail stream, and we've heard of people rummaging through mailboxes and taking cards out.
"I was fairly sure that it would work because, as an insurance agent, I've set up payments via a credit card over the phone, and we were allowed to set up the payments with cards that were not yet activated." So when she got a renewal credit card that required an activation phone call, she went ahead and used it anyway.