1m people will lose debit and credit cards by the New Year

Lost debit cards during Christmas parties

It's an incredibly common time of year for people to lose their credit or debit card. In fact, in the period between Christmas and the New Year, a million people will use track of their cards. Unfortunately, it's also one of the worst possible times to be parted from your card. So what can you do?

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The combination of sales shopping and Christmas and New Year partying means that debit and credit cards have more chance than ever of going astray at this time of year.

A long wait

If it happens to you, it's incredibly stressful. After a desperate hunt, 52% of people actually get their card back, but by then 31% have already cancelled it, so their card is useless.

They are then stuck trying to get hold of cash without a card - and often at a time of year when many branches are closed.

You can stay in and wait for a new card to be delivered, but you will be left with a shockingly long delay before your new plastic is in your hands.

Metro Bank found that the average wait for a new card can double during the festive period. Santander customers have the longest wait for a card - up from an average of 5-7 days to 13 days during the festive period. This is followed by HSBC up from 5-6 days to 12 days.

Meanwhile the Co-op Bank, Nationwide, NatWest and Lloyds all have average waiting times of ten days at this time of year (up from between 3 and 5 days). Barclays is the only one in the Metro Bank study coming in significantly below this - with a four day wait - up from two days.

What can you do?

Metro released the research to highlight that it has an app that lets you block and unblock cards at a swipe if you are ever temporarily parted from your card. They can also print replacement cards in branches. However, if you bank elsewhere there are still some options.

You should always report your card as soon as you realise it has been lost or stolen. Even if you find it later and end up kicking yourself, it's far better than the risk someone empties your account - because if you haven't reported it, there's a real risk you will not have money refunded. You can usually report it either on the phone or online.

Talk to your bank at this point about getting hold of cash in the interim. If you bank with NatWest or RBS, you can ask for a security code. You can then input that code at a cash machine, and withdraw up to £300 if you bank online or by phone (£30 otherwise).

Other banks, such as Lloyds and Barclays have a dedicated helpline, which will enable you to arrange to withdraw emergency cash. Unfortunately, in many cases you will need to wait for a branch to be open and then take ID along with you in order to withdraw the cash.

If you have other bank accounts, you can use online or phone banking to transfer money into them, and withdraw cash that way. If you don't have another account, you will have to ask yourself whether you trust someone else enough to transfer emergency cash into their account and ask them to withdraw the money for you.

It's never an entirely stress-free process, but on balance, it's still always better to err on the side of caution and cancel your card if there's any chance it has gone missing.

Christmas cards with a difference
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Christmas cards with a difference
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