What do I do with my old expired credit card?

Got any old expired or cancelled credit cards? Here's how to dispose of them safely.

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Most of us carry them in our wallets, not realising that the card has actually expired until we get stuck at the checkout and look on as the card gets declined. When you receive a new credit card in the mail, you need to dispose of your old one.

To make the changeover work efficiently, your new credit card will be valid before your old one expires. This means that you may start using your new one, but your old one could also be used by someone else if it’s not completely destroyed. Remember that even when it’s past its expiry date, your old credit card contains all the account information that a thief would need to carry out some serious mischief.

Can I throw my expired credit card into the rubbish bin?

Since you ask, no – at least not in its current state. An expired credit card should never be thrown out whole. Many people believe that because a credit card has expired, they no longer need to treat it with caution, so they throw it into the rubbish only to become the next identity theft victim.

In order to stay safe from thieves, destroy your expired credit card the right way first.

Credit card thieves and identity theft crooks only need to have your name, your credit card number and the card’s expiry date to make purchases or fake an identity and even if the card is no longer valid.

middle-aged guy thinking about what to do with expired credit card

How to go about destroying your old credit card:

The following is a safe way to get rid of expired credit cards.

  • Scissors. Use a good strong pair of scissors – not the plastic ones your child has for crafts as they won’t be strong enough.
  • Horizontally. Make your first cut horizontally straight through the main set of embossed numbers on the front of the card, dividing each one in half.
  • Hologram. Make certain to cut around any entertaining little hologram thingy and keep it for absolutely no good reason.
  • Magnetic strip. Cut diagonally through the magnetic strip.
  • Vertically. Cut the top half vertically at every two to four digits, then do the same with the bottom half.
  • Security code. Find the part that contains the three-digit security code on the reverse and cut that into pieces so it cannot be read or pieced back together.
  • Security chip. Hack through the little security chip diagonally.
  • Check cut pieces. Make sure that none of the pieces contains any information that could mean anything to anyone.
  • Dispose periodically. Dispose of the pieces over a period of time, throwing out a few pieces each time you have a bin collection.

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’s specifically advertised as being capable of mincing credit cards. This is the very easiest way to break a home shredder!

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