At Experian, one of our priorities is consumer credit and finance education. This post may contain links and references to one or more of our partners, but we provide an objective view to help you make the best decisions. For more information, see our Editorial Policy.
In this article:
Destroying a credit card you don't plan on using anymore is a good idea to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. This is simple enough with plastic cards, but what if you opted for a more durable metal credit card? You may be able to return a metal card to the company that issued the card so they can destroy it for you. Or, if you have access to the right tools, you could cut it up yourself and then throw away or recycle the pieces.
While someone can't steal your canceled or expired credit card to make purchases, safely disposing of your card can help protect you from different types of identity theft and fraud.
Four Ways to Get Rid of a Metal Credit Card
While some of the best metal credit cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, offer enticing rewards and cardholder benefits, you may ultimately decide canceling or changing cards is the best option. Or, you may need to destroy an old metal card when it expires.
Here are four options for what to do with your metal card.
Send It Back to Your Card Issuer
When your card expires, the card issuer may include a prepaid envelope with your new card. Or, you may have received an envelope when you first got your card. You can use this envelope to send your old metal card back to the issuer for free.
If you don't have an envelope, you can call the issuer and ask it to mail you a prepaid envelope. You may be able to get reimbursed if you pay for the postage—but call the issuer first to confirm.
Bring It to a Physical Branch
Rather than mailing back your metal card, it may be more convenient (and secure) to drop it off at one of the card issuer's local bank branches. A banker might be able to destroy it for you or mail it to the proper department on your behalf. Call the branch first to verify that someone will be able to help.
Destroy the Metal Card on Your Own
Don't put a metal credit card into a paper shredder or use regular scissors to try to cut it. With the right tools, however, you may be able to destroy and dispose of the card on your own.
If you have metal snips or another type of heavy-duty cutter, you can cut it into several pieces—similar to how you dispose of plastic cards. This may require you to find creative ways to destroy the card with the tools you have on hand. Be sure to destroy the card's magnetic strip and EMV chip, as those contain information that can be accessed even if the card is expired or canceled.
Some metal cards also have a metal core with a plastic coating on both sides. It may be possible to strip off and destroy the plastic layers and then dispose of the pieces.
Keep the Card Safely Stored Away
Some people may throw their old card into a drawer. It's a solution, but only a temporary one—even if it takes years to clean out your catch-all drawer.
While no one can use the old card to make a purchase, an identity thief that's trying to impersonate you may be able to use the physical card as a form of identification. If you decide to keep the card, try to bend it or scratch it up with a screwdriver first.
What to Consider Before Canceling a Credit Card
If you're preparing to destroy your card because you plan on canceling the account, think carefully before you proceed. Canceling a credit card account has a few potential downsides, so it's important to consider the repercussions of doing so, as well as some of the actions you may want to take before (or instead of) canceling your card.
- The impact on your credit: Closed accounts that are in good standing (meaning you've never missed a payment) can stay on your credit reports and impact your credit scores for up to 10 years. If you have a history of making on-time payments, the account can continue to help your credit. However, closing a credit card can cause your credit utilization ratio to climb, which may hurt your credit score.
- The rewards in your account: If you have a rewards card, you may lose the cash back, points or miles in your account once it's closed. Review the terms of your account, as some cards give you a grace period during which you can still redeem rewards. Or, if you have another rewards card from the same issuer, you may be able to transfer the rewards before canceling your card.
- The card's current balance: You can cancel a credit card that has a balance. But the balance can accrue interest, and you'll still need to pay it off in full.
- Your final payments: Watch out for a final bill if you've been carrying a balance and then pay off the card before canceling it. You may still owe interest that accrued but wasn't added to the balance yet, and you don't want to accidentally miss a payment.
- Whether changing cards makes sense: Some card issuers let you keep your account open and change to a different credit card. If you're considering closing a card because of its annual fee or rewards structure, see if you can switch to a card with different terms. Keeping the same account open may eliminate many of the potential downsides listed above.
Look for Your Next Card
If you're on the hunt for a new credit card to replace your metal one, look to see if you're matched with card offers in the Experian CreditMatch™ marketplace. Once you log in, you can get personalized offers from our partners. You can then filter the results based on the features you're looking for and create a side-by-side comparison of your top picks.