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What to do with your expired credit card

Do you have any expired or cancelled credit cards laying around the home?

All credit cards are subject to an expiry date. The month and year are printed on the front of your card, and your bank usually sends you a replacement card before this date. But what should you do with your old card? You can use this guide to learn how to safely dispose of your credit card and get answers to other frequently asked questions about credit card expiry.

What to do with your old credit card

Once you receive and activate your replacement card, you can get rid of your old card. You should avoid throwing your card into the rubbish bin, as someone could find it. Credit card thieves and identity theft crooks only need your name, your credit card number and the card’s expiry date to make purchases or fake identity. Even if the card is no longer valid, a good liar is capable of doing more than you wish to get your private data. While they can’t use the card to make transactions, someone could use the personal information listed on the card or the data stored in the card’s magnetic strip to commit identity fraud.

Instead of throwing your card away, you should destroy it first so that no one can use the information from your card. If you don’t want to dispose of it, you could potentially keep it in a secure place (such as a safe in your home) to keep it protected.

How to destroy your expired credit card

Here are the steps you can take to safely dispose of your expired credit card:

  • Demagnetise and cut the strip. The magnetic strip on your card contains personal data including your account number, card limit and name. You can demagnetise this, so it can’t be used, by running a magnet slowly along the strip for a few minutes.
  • Cut your card horizontally. – Take a good strong pair of scissors and make your first cut horizontally, straight through the main set of embossed numbers on the card’s front and the magnetic strip, so you divide the card in half.
  • Cut the card vertically Cut the top half vertically at every two to four digits, then do the same with the bottom half.
  • Security code – Your CVV number (or security code) is the 3-digits listed on the back of your card. Find this part of your card and cut it into small pieces so that it can’t be read or put back together.
  • Signature. As you cut up the card, make sure that you’re also cut up the strip on the back that contains your signature so that it can’t be read and copied.
  • Security chip – This is the silver or gold chip that’s usually found on the left-hand side of your card. You can either cut this up with scissors or smash it with a hammer.
  • Check cut pieces Make sure the pieces don’t contain any information that could mean anything to anyone.
  • Dispose Once you’ve cut up your card and you’re sure that the pieces can’t be put back together or used, you can dispose of the card. You can throw the separate fragments away in a few different bins so that the pieces can’t be recovered and put back together. Alternatively, dispose of the pieces over time; throwing out a few pieces for the rubbish collectors each time they come.

A word of warning: Unless you own a professional shredding company with industrial shredders, be careful about putting your old credit card through a shredding machine, unless it is specifically advertised as capable of mincing credit cards. This is the easiest way to break a home shredder, and you will then have to use your new credit card to buy another.

Questions we are often asked about expired credit cards

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