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What do I do when my credit card expires?

What do I do when my credit card expires?

All credit cards have an expiry date, and you can see the month and year printed on the front of your card.

Your bank or card issuer will likely send you a replacement before this date to help prevent you from being stuck with an expired card. Replacement credit cards generally come with the same account number and name printed on them; however, the expiration date and security CVV number will differ.

To help you switch to your new credit card seamlessly, it will likely be ready for use even before your old one expires. This way you can start using your new one almost immediately. However, your old card is still active until after its expiry date, and it can be used by someone else unless it’s properly destroyed.

The possibility of fraudulent use of your credit card isn’t your only concern. If you or someone else tries to use your expired credit card after the expiry date the transaction will be rejected. However, old expired cards will retain all your account information, which means they can be used by someone looking to get up to serious mischief.

If you’re wondering what to do with expired credit cards and how to dispose of them safely, there are some essential actions to take to protect yourself.

Why do credit cards expire?

Let’s begin by understanding why credit cards come with an expiry date. There are many reasons, but these are just a few:

  • It works as another layer of protection along with the credit card number, your name and CVC number.
  • If your credit card provider has bought (or been bought by) another financial institution, it may want to show it on your credit card.
  • There are changes in credit card technology all the time with new security features being added, for which you need a card upgrade to access them.
  • Your card could get physically damaged after all the years of swiping.

What happens if I just throw my expired credit card into the trash bin?

Many people might believe that an expired credit card is of no use to anyone and it can just be tossed in the trash. However, it’s risky to throw your expired card into the trash when it’s still intact as you could become the next identity theft victim. 

While credit card thieves and identity theft crooks can’t use the card to make transactions, they can use your name, credit card number and expiry date to create a fake identity. If you dispose of your expired credit card correctly, you prevent anyone from using the information and avoid any troubles in the future.

If you don't wish to dispose of your expired credit card, you could also keep it locked in a secure place, such as a safe or cupboard at home.

How can I despose of my expired credit card?

Choosing to despose of an expired credit card is the right thing to do, but you have to make sure it’s done right. Here are the steps to take:

  • Deactivate and cut the strip: All your credit card information, such as your name, account number and card limit, is stored in the card’s magnetic strip. Demagnetise this by running a strong magnet slowly along the strip several times.
  • Cut your card: Use a sharp pair of scissors to cut your card horizontally and vertically, and ensure you cut through the embossed account number.
  • CVV number: Your CVV number (security code) is the 3-digit number on the back of your card. Ensure that you cut that part of your card into several smaller pieces to make it impossible to put back together.
  • Signature: Cut through that part of the card with your signature to ensure it cannot be read or replicated.
  • CHIP: This is the silver or gold electronic chip located on the left side of your card. Cut this with a strong pair of scissors or crush it with a heavy instrument.
  • Hologram: Cut around and through the hologram on your card.

Once you've cut the card into many pieces, you can dispose of the card in the trash. Throw the pieces in a few different bins or on different days to ensure the parts can't be recovered easily and put back together.

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This article was reviewed by Personal Finance Editor Jodie Humphries before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.



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