If a bank or credit card account expires, you will have to dispose of your old card safely and securely. To confirm your credit card status, call your bank representative, before destroying your credit card. The contact number is usually labeled at the back side. Thoroughly destroy the card to ensure that it is unusable and limit the possibilities of any fraud. Demagnetise the magnetic strip, destroy the chip, cut up the card, and then dispose of the fragments in multiple bags.

Method 1
Method 1 of 2:

Destroying the Card

  1. To safely dispose of an old card you need to first disable the magnetic strip which contains all of your personal data, such as your account number, card limit, and name. You need to demagnetize this strip to help make the card unusable by anybody. You can do this by running a magnet all the way along the strip.[1]
    • Do this slowly so that the magnet is against the strip for a good amount of time.
    • You can use any magnet. A fridge magnet will do the job.
    • You can then cut along the strip with a pair of scissors.[2]
  2. You also need to destroy the chip in your card, if you have a chip and PIN card. This is a small silver or gold square usually on the left-hand side of your card. This chip contains all the same personal information that the magnetic strip does. It can be difficult to cut it up with scissors, so use a hammer to smash the chip into small pieces.[3]
  3. Once you have disabled the magnetic strip and electronic chip you can begin to cut up the rest of the card. Take care when you do this to ensure that you cut it up effectively and make it as hard as possible to be pieced back together. Begin by cutting up the numbers on the card so that there is no more than two numbers on each piece of card.[4]
    • Then cut up the security code and signature on the back of the card into very small pieces.
    • Cut it up with bent, curved, and straight cuts which will make it harder to piece back together.
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Method 2
Method 2 of 2:

Disposing of the Card

  1. You can dispose of your card more safely by throwing away the various pieces of it separately. You don’t need to put each fragment in a separate trash bag, but don’t put them all in the same one. If you spread the card fragments around a few different bags, it would take an awful lot of work to recover all the pieces.[5]
    • If you are throwing away any related documentation, such as account statements or receipts, don’t put these in the same bag as any card fragments.
  2. If you are closing an account, you may want to destroy documentation related to it. This includes statements or receipts which include personal information about you and your account. Use a cross-shredder if you have access to one. This is the most thorough way to destroy papers.[6]
    • You can then recycle the shredded paper, but remember that recycling is no safer than the ordinary trash.
    • Be sure to shred papers before putting them into recycling.
  3. If you want to be completely sure that your card and all the related documentation is completely destroyed, you can always incinerate it yourself. It is generally not advisable to burn the card itself, as the materials it is made from may contain harmful substances, such as hydrochloric acid, sulfur dioxide, dioxins, furans and heavy metals, as well as particulates, which will be released when burns.
    • Burning papers and bills is a way to guarantee that nobody will be able to read them.
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Community Q&A

  • Question
    I have a credit card I never even used, yet the company online thinks I still have it, but I shredded it.
    Community Answer
    Community Answer
    Your credit card account is still open if you didn't close it. Disposing of the card doesn't close the account. If you want to close it, call the company and tell them you want to close your account.
  • Question
    Can I boil a credit card to destroy it?
    Top Answerer
    Boiling may not fully destroy the card. Completely melting it over a flame would be more effective. Cutting it into little pieces and scattering the pieces is even better. Best method of all: Close the account! If the account is closed, it doesn't matter if someone were to find your card or secretly use the account number. A closed account can't be used by anyone.
  • Question
    How do I cut up a very thick metal card?
    Tom De Backer
    Tom De Backer
    Top Answerer
    Use superior weapons. Get industrial-grade cutters, for example, or use a saw that cuts through metal. Use acid to cut through it, if you have the knowledge how to do that safely. Weld through it, or melt it in a furnace.

Things You'll Need

  • Credit cards
  • Scissors
  • A magnet
  • Phone

About This Article

Andrew Lokenauth
Co-authored by:
Finance Executive
This article was co-authored by Andrew Lokenauth. Andrew Lokenauth is a Finance Executive who has over 15 years of experience working on Wall St. and in Tech & Start-ups. Andrew helps management teams translate their financials into actionable business decisions. He has held positions at Goldman Sachs, Citi, and JPMorgan Asset Management. He is the founder of Fluent in Finance, a firm that provides resources to help others learn to build wealth, understand the importance of investing, create a healthy budget, strategize debt pay-off, develop a retirement roadmap, and create a personalized investing plan. His insights have been quoted in Forbes, TIME, Business Insider, Nasdaq, Yahoo Finance, BankRate, and U.S. News. Andrew has a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree (BBA), Accounting and Finance from Pace University. This article has been viewed 234,331 times.
10 votes - 68%
Co-authors: 13
Updated: May 6, 2023
Views: 234,331
Article SummaryX

Before you dispose of a credit card, run a magnet along the card strip to demagnetize it. Next, use a hammer to smash the chip. To be extra sure no one will try to use you card, you can also cut it up with scissors. When you’re ready to throw away the card, make sure to split up the remains of the card in a couple separate trash bags so the pieces can’t be recovered. To learn how to destroy credit card documents to protect yourself, read on.

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