Getting rid of unwanted items is usually as easy as throwing them in the trash and forgetting about them. With credit cards, however, there are more concerns than tossing the old card into the garbage. Because of fraud, ID theft, and other potential threats, destroying an old credit card the right way is essential. So, what should you do with an old credit card, and how should you dispose of it?
What to Do with Old Credit Cards
There are multiple reasons why you might consider disposing of a credit card. Maybe your card expired and you need to replace it with a newer version. Perhaps you fear your card account was compromised and you need to destroy it to be safe.
Regardless of the reason, once a credit card is no longer useful, it should be destroyed – not just thrown away. How you dispose of a credit card depends on the materials of which the card is composed. There are two main types of physical credit cards: metal and plastic.
Plastic Credit Cards
Plastic credit cards are the most common type of credit card. Getting rid of an old, plastic credit card is an easy process that can be done at home.
Here is what you need to do to dispose of an old plastic credit card:
Demagnetize the magnetic strip
Step one in destroying an old credit card is demagnetizing the black stripe on the card’s back. While many credit cards are moving towards EMV chips and contactless payments, the magnetic strip is still a regular credit card feature.
To demagnetize the strip on your card, run a fridge magnet (any magnet will do) down the magnetic stripe of your credit card. Swiping a magnet across the strip will render that strip useless – thereby preventing fraud.
Cut up the card
Next, cut the credit card. Using scissors or a shredder, cut the card into as many pieces as possible. Only making a few snips might make the card easy to piece together should the destroyed card fall into the wrong hands. Since the numbers are essential for online purchases, making only a few cuts is not enough to make your old card unusable.
Dispose of the card in multiple places
Once you slice your credit card into many small pieces, dispose of those parts in as many different trash loads as possible. Dividing your credit card up and distributing the components in multiple locations ensures that no thief can get all the card pieces to steal your information.
What not to do
Burning your credit card might sound like a good way to dispose of it, but please do not do this. While plastic melts under flame and heat, it also releases harmful toxins that can be hazardous to your health.
Metal Credit Cards
Metal credit cards are highly coveted because they both look and feel high-quality. Like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Mastercard Black Card, and Platinum Card from American Express, metal cards feature a sleek design and have a weighty feel to match their impressive perks and rewards.
Metal cards are much more difficult to destroy than plastic credit cards. Their strength makes them difficult (if not impossible) to shred. Instead of getting out the wire cutters, why not contact your issuer and have them dispose of the credit card for you?
Credit card issuers, like Chase, offer cardholders the option of sending in their old credit cards for destruction. Call the toll-free number on the back of your credit card and speak with a customer service representative. The bank or issuer will send you a prepaid envelope in which you can place the card.–The bank will handle the rest of the process for you.
If your card issuer has a physical branch near you, you can also visit the branch and turn in your old card.
Related Article: 5 Steps to Take Immediately After Credit Card Fraud
Featured photo by Sarah Pflug / Burst
Editorial Disclosure – The opinions expressed on BestCards.com's reviews, articles, and all other content on or relating to the website are solely those of the content’s author(s). These opinions do not reflect those of any card issuer or financial institution, and editorial content on our site has not been reviewed or approved by these entities unless noted otherwise. Further, BestCards.com lists credit card offers that are frequently updated with information believed to be accurate to the best of our team's knowledge. However, please review the information provided directly by the credit card issuer or related financial institution for full details.