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What To Do With Old Credit Cards

Last modified: Sep 29, 2022

With identity theft and fraud on the rise, it's critical to understand what to do with old credit cards. Instead of throwing it in a drawer, follow these instructions on properly destroying a credit card to maintain your financial and personal safety.  

Without further ado, keep reading as we guide you through the correct ways of getting rid of an old credit card. 

How to Find Old Credit Card Accounts?

To easily locate past credit card accounts, start by reviewing your credit reports and look for any old accounts you may have forgotten about, as well as for overall correctness. 

If you discover credit cards you've forgotten about and can’t find them, you have the option of calling the card issuer and requesting a new physical card or even reporting that your old credit card is stolen from you. However, if you find any physical credit cards in your drawers, the next step will tell you what to do.

What to Do Before You Dispose of Your Credit Card?

Fortunately, most metal credit card providers will dispose of your expired cards for you. All you have to do now is mail the card to the issuer. If your card issuer has a physical bank, you can dispose of your expired credit with a teller. 

However, it's essential to take precautions beforehand and guarantee that your credit card account is free from outstanding transactions.   

For example, if your old credit cards have expired, activate your replacement card before discarding the old one. If you want to cancel the card completely, you'll need to follow these steps:    

  1. Pay off any outstanding balance to reduce the risk of unpaid debt.
  2. Use or transfer your rewards immediately as they get easily forgotten by many people.
  3. Close the account if you don't need it anymore. 
  4. Notify other users. 
  5. Modify or even cancel any automatic payments connected to the card.

There are many ways to dispose of old credit cards. However, you should also try to contact the issuer to check you did everything as it should.  

What Are Credit Cards Made Of?

Credit card fraud is the number one form of financial fraud in the US. To avoid this, credit cards are equipped with sophisticated security mechanisms. The card's account number, signature panel, and magnetic stripe are among these features. 

Additionally, the card's unique account number is the most important piece of information for completing a financial transaction, and it must be kept safe. Therefore, it’s crucial to dispose of your cards correctly.      

Cards are made up of multiple layers of plastic that have been bonded together. The core is generally made of polyvinyl chloride acetate, a plastic resin (PVCA). To get the desired appearance and consistency, this resin is blended with opacifying agents, dyes, and plasticizers. 

Destroying Your Credit Card

All credit and bank cards have an expiry date, and many people are unaware of this until they try to use them after the expiration date. Others are unaware that even if their card has expired, their information might still be taken and exploited.      

Your old credit card has all of the account information a criminal needs to commit identity theft. With identity theft on the rise, merely tossing your cards in the trash is no longer sufficient. Therefore, you should try to send back the metal credit card to the issuer.     

When your card expires, the card issuer may send you a replacement card in a prepaid envelope. This envelope can be used to return your old metal card to the issuer for free. If you don't have an envelope, you can contact the issuer and request a prepaid envelope.      

Another way to successfully dispose of your card is to demagnetize the chip or the strip on your card. The information contained on the magnetic strip can be erased by coming into contact with anything magnetic.         

Credit or debit card strips can also be ruined by items with powerful electromagnetic fields. Cell phones and digital cameras, for example. That’s why it's recommended to avoid putting your card near your phone. 

Additionally, cards can be demagnetized by coming into contact with refrigerator magnets, wallet clasps, and magnets on the back of tape measures and flashlights. If the magnetic stripe of a card is severely scraped, it can also become demagnetized. 

Read more: How Old Do You Have To Be To Get A Debit Card?

Many people are trying to cut or shred their credit cards. However, using scissors to destroy your card is not a secure method if you want to discard a credit card. The location of the chip that stores your information varies between cards. It's little and easy to overlook, but not for an identity thief on the lookout for account numbers.      

Another poor idea is a shredder. To successfully shred a credit card, you'll need a shredder with a cross-cutting capability that's specifically meant for them.

It's not easy to ensure that your cards are destroyed to prevent fraud. You'd have to de-magnetize the magnetic strip and then destroy it.                         

Recycle Your Credit Card   

All recyclable plastics are simple to recycle. However, you must exercise caution when using your credit card. Your cards carry important information about you. While the recycling process may be trusted to destroy cards, you may not be able to trust the staff. 

Your credit cards would go through a number of steps before finally ending up in the recycling bin. Many of these processes can be influenced by humans, and the process could be jeopardized. 

Expired Card Hobbyists

Believe it or not, credit card collecting is a popular hobby. 

Like other hobbies, it needs commitment, time, experience, and (eventually) knowledge. Searching for expired credit cards may take a lot of time, effort, and joy, and serious collectors have amassed hundreds over the course of their pastimes. 

If you want to acquire some of the rarest and most sought-after vintage credit cards, especially those with historical importance or once carried by celebrities, you'll have to pay quite a lot.    

Non-collectors may find this strange, but the joy you get from expanding your collection of rare and valuable credit cards is worth your money and time.        

Do It Yourself Crafts 

With a little imagination, you can turn your card into usable crafts (just make sure you use the parts of the card which don't have any chip or magnetic strip). For inspiration, you can research the many DIY pages available online.

There are simple projects like guitar picks, cell stands, scalpel holders, or even to help you remove the frost from your windshield.

Read more: Best passive income ideas

By now, you should have a couple of ideas about what to do with your old credit cards. The methods mentioned in this article help you safely destroy or repurpose credit cards while avoiding identity theft, so make sure to give them a try!


What should I do with old credit cards?

To dispose of credit or debit cards, you can cut them with scissors or a shredder, but you have to ensure the chip is destroyed. Alternatively, you can send it back to the issuer or make a fun project out of it.

Is it safe to throw away expired credit cards?

You should not throw your card in the trash since they can easily be found. While they won't be able to use the card to make purchases, they might steal your identity fraud by using the card's personal information or the data stored in the magnetic strip.

How do you destroy an old credit card with a chip?

Firstly, cut through the chip and then cut the card a couple more times. Then, separate the parts into multiple trash bags. If the card is metal, you can cut it with power equipment.

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