How to Destroy a Credit Card

How to Destroy a Credit Card

It used to be easy to destroy an old credit card with a pair of scissors or even a shredder at home.

Disposing of a metal credit card is a few steps more complicated than ever before since more and more issuers are switching over – and this trend seems to be here to stay.

How do you destroy a metal card? Find out a few options for getting rid of your old metal cards below.

Destroying a Metal Credit Card

If you have an old and expired metal credit card you’re looking to dispose of you can follow the steps below to safely get rid of it.

Mail it to your credit card issuer

The best way to make sure your expired or compromised card will be properly destroyed is to return it back to your issuer.

Upon receiving a new card, your issuer may include an envelope with prepaid postage, requesting that you return your old card for recycling or disposal.

Several Chase branches also provide prepaid envelopes at account openings with instructions on how to return the cards for proper disposal in the future, according to a Chase representative.

The phone number on the back of your card can be contacted if you do not receive a prepaid envelope with your newly-issued card or if you forget what’s on your old card. You can also ask for further assistance in discarding your card.

Return it to your nearest bank

It is also possible to return a metal card by visiting a brick-and-mortar location of the issuing bank.

You can determine the best course of action by speaking with a representative at your bank’s physical branch. Each issuer may follow a different policy.

Destroy the metal credit card yourself

As an alternative, you can destroy the card yourself, if you are confident you will not need it again.

You shouldn’t be able to seriously damage a metal credit card with regular kitchen scissors, but tin snips should easily allow you to cut it into pieces.

You can use tin snips to cut metal card if you happen to have any in your home. Since they are designed to work with tough materials, you can use them on any metal card you have lying around.

Many credit card holders have tried to destroy their metallic credit cards using things from blowtorches to fire pits and other creative methods, if they don’t have tin snips at hand.

Most of these methods fund online aren’t the most practical or safe means to destroy a metal credit card, but they can be fun experiments. Whichever method you decide to try do NOT put the metal card in a microwave or shredder.

Avoid Scams

It is very likely a scam if you find a third-party provider offering to destroy your metal credit card for you.

Your metal credit card should be kept hidden from anyone but your bank’s employees if you don’t want the information on it to fall into the wrong hands.

It’s still a good idea not to give out your credit card number to anyone, even if it has expired or been canceled, and especially not via unsolicited emails or a website you are unfamiliar with.

Related: Do Credit Cards Have Routing Numbers?

How to Cut Your Credit Card

It’s a fairly straightforward process to cut up a plastic credit card, as long as you use the right tools. Normally you have two options.

  • Scissors: Find the heaviest-duty pair of scissors you have and cut your credit card directly down the line of numbers on the front. Similar to if you were crossing the numbers out with pencil. Then proceed to make a few vertical cuts, perpendicular to the one you just made.

    Do not simply cut your credit card in half with scissors and call it a day. That is too easy to recover.
  • Shredder: Using a shredder for your non-metal credit card should be one of your last choices since you risk damaging the shredder unless it is an industrial one. Nevertheless, if your shredder can handle the plastic you won’t have to worry about anyone figuring out your numbers ever again.

Related: Can Credit Cards Get Wet?

Video Transcript

00:10 Hey WalletHubbers! Today we’ll talk about  when and how to cut up a credit card. 

00:16 Most people should cut up their credit cards when  they can’t control their spending, or when their  

00:20 cards are expired. You could also consider  cutting up an unused card to prevent fraud,  

00:25 while preserving the option of easily reversing  your decision by requesting a replacement.

00:31 With that being said, here are the basic  steps you should take when cutting up  

00:35 and disposing of an unwanted credit card. First, call your issuer. If you’re not  

00:40 replacing your card with new plastic, confirm  that you can access your account with just your  

00:45 Social Security number and not your account  number if you’re keeping the account open.  

00:50 This will enable you to properly manage  your account and avoid complicating your  

00:53 financial situation unnecessarily. Step 2 is to cut up your card,  

00:59 which is pretty straightforward. You can either  use heavy-duty scissors or an industrial shredder.

01:04 Unless, of course, you have a metal card. In this  case, the issuer may mail you a special slip into  

01:09 which you are supposed to insert your card and  return it for safe disposal. This typically occurs  

01:15 when you are closing your account or requesting a  replacement card, or if the issuer initiates the  

01:20 return. This service will likely be unavailable  if you simply wish to remove temptation.

01:25 If avoiding the temptation to overspend with a  metal credit card is your main motivation, you  

01:27 may want to try freezing your card — literally  — by putting it in a Tupperware container  

01:33 filled with water and then putting it in the  freezer. Or, you can come up with any other  

01:38 creative idea to remove the temptation while  keeping the account open for credit reporting  

01:44 purposes or the event of an emergency. Step 3 is to dispose of your plastic card  

01:50 with other trash. This is probably the only time  we’ll recommend this, but you actually shouldn’t  

01:55 recycle your cut up credit card. We typically  have fewer items in our recycling bins  

02:00 than our trash cans, making it easier for  opportunistic fraudsters to cobble together  

02:02 the pieces. Besides, experts say the impact on  the environment from thrown out credit cards is  

02:05 negligible compared to things like plastic bags. The last step is to clear your browser history.  

02:07 It’s important to remember that we are now  in the digital age. That means if you really  

02:11 want to curb your spending capabilities,  you’ll need to clear all saved credit card  

02:15 information from your favorite websites  and your browser – just to be safe. 

02:21 Finally, if your motivation for cutting up  your credit card is to start fresh with a  

02:25 new card that offers better terms, you can check  out WalletHub’s editors’ picks for the best credit  

02:29 cards on the market right now by clicking  the button here. Best of luck, WalletHubbers!

Are Credit Cards Recyclable?

Plastic credit cards are recyclable but it is only advised if you’ve previously cut or shredded the card to help protect your personal information. Your credit card may avoid the landfill when recycled but it can still be sorted by hand on a conveyor belt.

Related: Chime SpotMe Program Review

Can You Put a Credit Card in a Shredder?

Yes, you can shred your credit card as long as it’s non-metal. Most household and industrial shredders should handle the plastic credit card just fine. Metal credit cards however can not be shredded and instead should be disposed of differently.

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