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What can you do with old credit cards – how to dispose of them in a safe manner

After a certain amount of time, your credit card will expire and you need to figure out the safest possible way to dispose of it. Whether you’d like to close your account and subsequently get rid of your old card, or you’re about to get a new one, knowing what you can do with old credit cards is important to avoid identity theft and other unwanted consequences. 

In this blog post, you’ll find out about several disposal strategies and some creative ways of putting your old card to good use.

5 steps to take before the credit card disposal

Prior to the disposal of your card, and especially in cases where you’re about to close your account, it’s vital to follow these steps below:

1. Settle any outstanding balances

If you’re planning on cancelling a credit card, it’s always a good idea to settle your balance in full prior to closing your account with your bank or financial institution. 

2. What to do with rewards 

Most credit card issuers offer rewards on purchases made. That being said, if you’re in the process of closing your account, you’ll want to transfer or use up your remaining rewards in full so that they do not go to waste. If you have cash back or bonus points that have accumulated over time, make sure to redeem them prior to the cancellation of your card.

3. Account closure

Closing your account with a bank or financial institution is not very difficult. You can usually do this by contacting your issuer by phone, going into a physical branch, or cancelling online. 

4. Inform any relevant parties 

If anyone else is using your card as an authorised cardholder, it’s important to let them know that their card will no longer be valid and so that they don’t experience any embarrassing surprises. It’s also wise to inform them to destroy their existing cards safely. You’ll learn how to dispose of credit cards in the upcoming paragraphs. 

5. Cancel or transfer direct debit orders 

Debit orders on your account are automatically deducted sums that occur on a recurring basis and these payments are typically automated while linked to a particular card. To ensure that your payments go through on time, make sure you divert the automatic payment to a new account and subsequent card.

Credit card disposal strategies

Once the above steps have been taken care of, you’re ready to dispose of your card. But make sure you do so safely. The following ways are some ideas to help guide you:

  • Cut it – use a pair of sturdy scissors to cut the most important details on the card. These will be the PAN number on the card, your names, the expiry date, and the CVV number at the back of your card. Make sure that they are unrecognizable after cutting directly through them. 
  • Shred it – you can also shred your credit card through a shredder that accepts hard plastic to ensure that it can’t be used by anyone again or that someone will access your personal details.  
  • Deactivate the magnetic strips – using a magnet, a fridge magnet will do, run it along the magnetic stripe of your card in order to deactivate the magnetic strip. 
  • One piece per bag – if you’ve chosen to cut or shred your old credit card, make sure no one can piece together the main puzzle that your card has just become. Do so by dividing the shredded or cut card pieces and placing them in separate bin bags, making it harder for an identity thief to collect any information about you. Better yet, place each garbage bag in a separate dumpster. This will make it even more difficult for anyone with less than nice intentions. 
  • Return metal cards – if you have a metal card, it’s a good idea to return it to your bank or financial institution, as they will have the best means of disposing of it. 
  • Is it wise to recycle? – while some argue that since your card is made of plastic, in most cases, it should be recycled. However, keeping in mind that recycled plastic ends up on a conveyor belt which is hand sorted by individuals, you can never be too careful about having your card recycled and shredding or cutting it up, or better yet, coming up with creative ways to use it, are better options. 

Creative ways to use your old credit card

If you choose not to cut or shred your old credit card, you can always come up with some creative ways to put it to good use.

The first and most obvious one is as a placeholder in a book. If you cut it out in the correct shape, you can also use it as a plectrum for your guitar. It can work as a phone stand, you can make earrings or jewelry out of it or even use it to organise your cables. 

Conclusion

In closing, it’s worth knowing that each year, we use more than 66 million pounds of PVC for issuing banking cards and that eventually, these cards will expire and need to be replaced by new ones. It’s important to be as safe as possible with your card details so cutting and shredding and then binning them in different garbage dumpsters is the best option. 

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