Freeze Your Credit Cards to Ice Your Spending

by David Ning · 22 comments

freeze credit cards

Sometimes, obvious ways to curb our spending is seldom practiced because we feel embarrassed to try it.  We read about them, laugh that it’s probably “just for fun”, and forget about them right after.  Yesterday, my friend reminded me that while we might feel funny doing something unusual the first time, it is always the results that actually determine who laughs at the end of the day.

Friend: David, I freeze my credit card in order to stop myself from spending.
Me: You mean you call the companies to stop them?
Friend: No, I mean literally putting them in a block of ice.


I was a little shocked once I realized she really did this.  She even went a step further and have the block of ice at her boyfriend’s house.  She then continued to tell me the benefits:

  1. No More Splurging – She used to shop all the time.  Now that she doesn’t have a credit card, she eliminated her unnecessary splurges.
  2. Time to Think – When she wants to buy something, she needs to drive to her boyfriend’s house, thaw the ice and then take the credit card to the store.  If she still wants to buy it after all that trouble, the purchase is probably worth the cost.
  3. Still Have the Cards – My friend thought about canceling the cards but she would lose all the credit history by doing so.  She also wanted to have the flexibility of having credit in case she really needed the privilege for some reason.

For those who want to try this, the process is really super simple:

  1. Fill a container with water
  2. Put the credit card in there
  3. Freeze it

She told me that even the magnetic stripe at the back of the card still works so there’s no worries that the card won’t function after being frozen and thawed.

Now that I think about this idea some more, I wonder if this will be a good birthday present for someone.  A block of frozen credit cards (with no candle on top of course).

Update: This works extremely well with 0% balance transfer credit cards, because you can just apply, transfer the balances over and freeze the credit card up so you can concentrate on paying the balance off instead of piling on more debt.

This post is dedicated to my friend Jenn, who taught me that not only is there absolutely no shame in doing something effective, it is actually quite admirable.

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Suburban Dollar February 6, 2009 at 6:33 am

A Creditsicle… Try freezing it in Fruit Juice, that way you can enjoy getting it back out.

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Sarah August 5, 2010 at 9:08 am

Random thought on this one, but do you think that could include a wooden handle??? I think I might enjoy it so much that way that I would end up forgetting about whatever I wanted as I ate my way to the card. Only worry would be, does juice freeze as completely as water?

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George February 6, 2009 at 7:14 am

..and if online spending is your problem (as I speak to myself), you might want to use some food-coloring or put foil around your card or something first…since reading it through a block of clear ice may not be too hard to do.

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Christina February 6, 2009 at 9:13 am

Good idea George. Doesn’t work if you shop online so much you’ve memorized the number ;-)

Anyway, my added suggestion is to use a metal container, so you can’t microwave it. The foil George suggested would work, too. That will give you added cooling-off time (or should I say, warming up?)

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Riley October 9, 2010 at 4:43 pm

If you ever need to get at your cards after freezing them in water, do NOT put the block of ice into the microwave.. You will destroy your card. Microwaves heat from the inside out, not to mention the Magnetic Strip on the Credit Card and the metallic parts in the card….

Just thought I’d remind people of that….

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Emily February 6, 2009 at 11:33 am

Good idea. You should host an interview with this friend next time. She sounds like a creative girl.

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marci February 6, 2009 at 2:38 pm

I have a set of cards frozen in my freezer now – they belong to my grown daughter, and she has NO clue where in the freezer they are – and she doesn’t want to know either :) She asked me to hold on to them for her :)

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Tyler February 7, 2009 at 1:34 pm

This is what I tell all of my friends looking for financial advice. They think I’m crazy.

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Isabelle February 7, 2009 at 7:32 pm

The habit of spending can be very hard to break – so removing temptation while the new non spending habit develops is a good idea.

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Chiko February 8, 2009 at 6:21 pm

How about this advice: Don’t have credit cards to ice your spending. I don’t think credit cards make sense, that why I don’t use them. Just do it the old fashion way, don’t get it if you can’t afford it.

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brittany August 5, 2009 at 5:57 am

Chiko, that’s great advice if you never want a bank/financial institution to lend you money for anything – EVER. Think about it, you need good credit (or at least SOME CREDIT) to buy a house or get a loan for a car…if you just ‘do it the old fashioned way’, you’ll be waiting a good 20-30 years (with really frugal spending/saving habits before you’ll be buying your first little starter home.
But then again, some people are content just renting their whole lives – which is great too, don’t get me wrong.

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Andy @ Retire at 40 February 16, 2009 at 1:47 am

Heh, that’s pretty funny. Of course, I have a problem in that I know my credit card number off by heart and I know I can shop online. In fact, neither this or having my credit card in my wallet makes a single difference to my impromptu spending … it just doesn’t happen.

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trina June 14, 2009 at 7:30 am

This is great. I am in the process of freezing of my credit card right now. It’s good to hear that I am not alone. :)

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Marc December 24, 2009 at 3:02 am

Have you tried cutting them up? Or shredding them perhaps? That works just as well…

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Sarah August 5, 2010 at 9:05 am

If you do not use your card every so often it actually hurts your credit. Also, if there is an emergency, for example your car breaks down and you simply do not have the cash, a credit card is a great way to take care of that until you can pay it off. There is no use in cutting the damn things up, they are useful when used responsibly…hidden far far away locked in a brick off ice until they are truly needed.

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Craig April 5, 2010 at 8:11 am

I just did this with one of my cards. I put the lid on so it wouldn’t be readily visible if someone was to look in the freezer. Should I have done this or just put the bowl in the freezer without replacing the lid?

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Sarah August 5, 2010 at 9:04 am

My guess would be it depends on how high you filled the water….lol. If you filled it all the way to the top the lid will possibly pop off, expanding liquid and all that, but if you did not in my opinion it would be a great way to make sure that your cards are safe. Not many people are into stealing “leftover” which is hopefully exactly what your cards now look like.

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Sarah August 5, 2010 at 9:02 am

Oh yes, I have been meaning to do this for quite some time now. As I catch myself whipping out the debit card for EVERYTHING. Especially things I do not need. Now I am wondering how I will pay for school this month and it is time for this madness to end. So…the credit card, the debit card, and my atm card (i have a bad habit of hitting up the atm machine if I do not have the debit…) are all hiding in the freezer wrapped in tin foil waiting for the ice to take effect. Hopefully this works as well as I hope it will, and hopefully I can quit smoking in the process. NO money access means no access to cigarette money. Good luck to everyone else on making their goals as well.

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smartguy August 27, 2012 at 9:12 am

Everytime I get a credit card offer in the mail, I cut up the paper into tiny little pieces, and mail it back to them in the postage-paid envelope. It increases costs to the credit card company, which is passed along to those using cards. And it makes me feel good.

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jack November 14, 2013 at 11:24 am

I freezed my DEBIT card. I don’t have a credit card at all.

Unfortunately I remember all the digits of the card including CCV and expiry date so I can still spend online.

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Jerry Mandel February 20, 2014 at 8:28 am

We use credit cards for every purchase. Get big bonus miles and points for travel and cash back cards for (guess) cash back. Of course, pay off every month. Prepay cable, electricity, water, etc. to get big bonuses and get spending back from no monthly payments for many months.

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Katie March 6, 2014 at 1:30 pm

I have a terrible spending habit with my debit card!! I always have the money to back up my purchases, but now I have to save up for money for a trip out if country and a prom dress, and it’s really difficult with having easy access to my card. So, I put it in the freezer so that I won’t spend any, and I will have enough mula for my trip and prom. I hope this works out for everyone, because I sure know that it’s working out for me so far! ????????????

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