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10 Things You Need to Know About Credit Card Expiration Dates

Credit card issuers anticipate when a credit card might be physically worn down and need replacing, which is why they include an expiration date on your card. The dates also act as an important piece of verification data.

Although credit cards display their expiration dates near the center of the card, cardholders tend to forget about them quickly, which can lead to an embarrassing situation when your credit card is declined because it’s expired. Financial institutions typically assign expiration dates when they issue cards, but a few companies allow consumers to set their own.

Keep reading to find out how credit cards work regarding expiration dates.

1. Expiration Dates Don’t Apply to Your Account

Although your credit card has an expiration date, your actual account does not. Even if your credit card expires, you’ll still need to call the issuer and cancel your card if you don’t want it anymore.

2. Expiration Dates Fall on the Last Day of the Month

When you compare credit cards, you’ll notice that they show a month and year for the expiration date, but not a specific day. TD Bank explains that if your credit card expiration date is listed as “6/17” it expires on June 30, 2017 because the 30th is the last day in the month of June, according to TD Bank. Although it’s common practice for cards to expire at the end of the month, contact your card issuer to verify its policy.

3. Expiration Dates Add Fraud Protection

An expiration date adds an extra layer of fraud protection to your account. Retailers check a card’s expiration date and the user’s credit card information to verify the card is legitimate, according to Discover. And anyone who tries to steal data by unlawfully swiping a card’s magnetic strip might have trouble using the information if the card has already expired.

Learn: How to Protect Yourself Against Credit Card Fraud

4. Credit Cards Break Down Over Time

Another reason your credit card has an expiration date is so that you can replace it before it becomes unusable. Although credit cards are made of a sturdy plastic, they still wear down after years of use.

5. Your Credit Card Can Still Be Charged After the Expiration Date

Millions of Americans use their credit cards to sign up for everything from subscription services to association fees to product-of-the-month clubs, according to Nasdaq. It’s easy to forget to cancel these things when you don’t want them anymore, but the company can still charge you for them — even if your card has expired.

You can be charged even if your card is no longer valid because of a “recurring indicator” that’s included in your transactions, a technology that enables the company to circumvent the expiration date and keep charging you each month, according to Nasdaq.

Find Out How To: Never Be Late Again — 10 Monthly Bills You Should Always Put on Autopay

6. Expiration Dates Necessitate Updating Automatic Payments

If you’ve opted to have your health insurance, yearly Amazon subscription or monthly Netflix membership paid automatically through your credit card, you’ll need to update all of the accounts associated with the expired credit card. You should take this opportunity to review your recurring payments to see if you still need them all.

7. Credit Cards Get Upgrades

Technology is constantly evolving and credit card companies are always looking for the best way to keep your account secure. Including an expiration date is one way to give you an “upgrade” every few years when a credit card company makes upgrades to its cards, like implementing EMV chip-enabled cards better protect you against fraud — if you’ve been the victim of credit card fraud, you will appreciate this.

8. You Can Recycle Expired Credit Cards

Consider recycling your expired credit cards so they can serve a new purpose. You can those old cards into guitar picks or pieces of jewelry, among other creations.

Many consumers toss their expired cards in the trash, which adds 75 million pounds of PVC material to landfills each year, according to Earthworks, a company dedicated to providing solutions that protect the Earth’s resources and communities. Instead, cardholders can send their cards to Earthworks to be ground up and used to make new cards.

9. You Should Destroy Your Expired Credit Card

Consumers who’d rather toss their expired cards need to destroy those credit cards first so that any information embedded in the magnetic strips or EMV chips are unusable. The simplest way is to thread the credit cards through a paper shredder, but a good pair of scissors will do the trick, too.

Make horizontal and vertical cuts to your card to make sure your details aren’t visible. Once your card is in tiny pieces, distribute them in a few different trash cans just to be safe.

10. You Can Ditch the Expired Credit Card and Go Mobile

Credit card offers now include the ability to handle all of your transactions digitally. You might want to move those physical cards into a digital mobile wallet, instead.

Capital One’s mobile wallet, for example, enables you to pay for purchases using your phones instead of a physical card. All you need to do is pull up the app, place your thumbprint over the sensor to verify your identity and hold the phone over the store’s near-field communication terminal. If a multi-card mobile wallet app is right for you, just add your cards to the app, include a security method like fingerprint recognition and start making quick payments.

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