Most credit cards come with decent fraud protection these days. If someone steals and uses your card, most issuers make it easy to dispute the transactions and flag your account. That doesn’t mean you should be haphazard with it, though. If you cancel your card or it expires, break out the scissors (or the shredder).
Cut It Up, Even If It’s Expired
Despite the many protections credit card issuers offer these days, yes, you should still cut up your old cards. I verified this with Robert Siciliano, Identity Theft Expert and CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com. He told me:
Cutting up cards makes the magnetic stripe unusable. But the card number, even if the expiration date has passed, may still be usable. All one needs to do is use a current non-expired date and the card sometimes goes through. So cutting up the card and disposing in different places is the best case security.
Simply slicing it in two won’t do, either. You should destroy it completely. In fact, consider cutting it into fifteen slices as shown in the video above.
Too much work? You might try a shredder, but make sure to use one that’s built for the thickness of a credit card.
Don’t Forget to Destroy The Chip
Data is stored not only in your magnetic stripe but also in the chip that credit cards now come with. That chip must be destroyed, too, says Siciliano.
Cutting a chip is like cutting the magstripe. This completely makes the data contained on it inoperable.
You can try to cut the chip, otherwise Creditcards.com suggests smashing it with a hammer, which sounds a lot more fun.
If It’s a Chase Card, You Can Send It Back
Cutting up your credit card sounds well and good until you have a Chase credit card on your hands. If you have a Chase Sapphire card, you know they’re pretty much impossible to cut with a standard pair of scissors due to their thickness. Even a standard shredder won’t do.
The good news is, Chase will send you a prepaid envelope so you can mail it back to them. My card expired, and they sent one automatically with my new card. If you cancel it on your own or don’t receive one with a new card, you can call the number on the back of the card and ask Chase to mail you the envelope. Once they get the card back, they destroy it. As one reader on The Points Guy forum points out, you can also go directly into a Chase branch and hand it over.
To sum it all up, yes, you do still need to destroy your credit cards despite the fraud protection many companies now offer. After all, there’s identifiable information on your card and, even if it’s expired, thieves may still be able to use that information. Cut it up and, if you really want to protect yourself, toss the pieces in separate trash cans for good measure.