What to do with old credit cards

What to do with old credit cards

author: Bryony Pearce

By Bryony Pearce

You’ve heard of up-cycling things like jam jars and wooden palettes, but the inspiration you’re after could be closer to home…like in your wallet.

How many credit or debit cards do you have on you? One? Two? Three? More? Whatever the type of plastic, you’ll be faced with an expiration date, but when that time comes, what do you do? Take a look at our handy guide.

Can you throw away expired credit cards?

You should never just throw away an old credit card as it is. It’s not uncommon for identity thieves to rummage through people’s garbage for their old plastic, and if they hit the jackpot, you could find yourself out of pocket and with a damaged credit history.

Should you shred old credit cards?

Yes, before you dispose of an old credit card, you should either shred it or manually cut it into lots of tiny pieces.

A few other ways to discard your credit card include:

  • Cut horizontally through the embossed numbers on the front of the card;
  • Dismantle the magnetic strip by horizontally slicing through it;
  • Hack away at the security code (on the back) so it can no longer be read;
  • Diagonally chop through the security chip; and
  • Make sure all your cut pieces are free from meaningful information.

Even after all that, it might still be worth sprinkling the remains into different bins to prevent persistent credit fraudsters from piecing it back together again.

How do I dispose of a metal credit card?

You’ve got a few options:

1. Talk to your card’s provider. Most companies who offer metal credit cards have the option to send it back in a prepaid envelope for them to destroy.

2. Try using heavy duty scissors or a shredder. There’s no guarantee they’ll pierce through your card but it’s worth giving it a go (if you have the tools).

3. If mid-weight tools don’t do the job take a more extreme approach by taking a drill or some sort of metal-cutting machine to your card.

Is it better to cancel unused credit cards or keep them?

There’s no clear-cut answer to this, we’re afraid. To help you work out what makes the most sense for your situation though, here are a few pros and cons for each:

Reasons to cancel unused cards

Reasons to keep unused cards

Lower the risk of credit fraud

Keep access to the credit in the event of an emergency

Access attractive new customer deals with other lenders

Hold on to any existing customer deals

Less temptation to spend money you don’t have

Keep spending with added protection (Section 75)


Helps to keep your credit utilisation ratio low – which can boost your credit score

Is it bad to have a lot of credit cards with zero balance?

If you’ve gone to the trouble of taking out a credit card, lenders do like to see you using it. While maxing out your plastic shows an unhealthy relationship with credit, not touching your card won’t help your credit score, either – because lenders can’t see that you’re managing your credit responsibly every month

Can you recycle credit cards?

For most of us, it’s simply a case of chopping the card up into tiny pieces and chucking it in the bin. If you want to go a bit greener next time one of your cards has reached its shelf life though, here are five quirky ways you can repurpose your plastic:

1. Use it as an ice scraper

Save a few quid this winter by replacing your ice scraper purchase with a recycled credit card. They’re pretty sturdy things, and they’ll do the job almost just as good.

2. Make a phone stand

Smartphones. Another item almost all of us have. Grab a pair of scissors, create a phone-width slit three-quarters of the way down one end of your card, and then cut diagonally across the other end’s corner.

If you’re none the wiser after our description (we won’t blame you), take a look at this handy guide here.

3. Chop your cheese

Don’t you just hate it when you’ve a lovely wedge of cheese in front you, you’re dying for a slice, but you’ve not got a knife to cut it? It’s just the worst. Well, if you're out in the wild or if all the knives have escaped from your cutlery drawer, turn to an expired credit card; it’ll glide right through.

4. Get creative

If arts and crafts are up your street credit cards offer lots of creative opportunities. From multicoloured mosaics and quirky lamp shades to simpler things like guitar picks and bookmarks, there’s a whole load you could start working on.

5. Get your grout on

If you’ve not got the money to pay someone else to do it, you don’t have the proper tools to do it yourself and you don’t want to get your fingers dirty, your old credit card could be the next best alternative the next time you’re grouting tiles.

Disclaimer: We make every effort to ensure that content is correct at the time of publication. Please note that information published on this website does not constitute financial advice, and we aren’t responsible for the content of any external sites.

What to do with old credit cards What to do with old credit cards