At a Glance

Ah, the dreaded credit card expiration date – the tiny countdown clock that reminds us all that even our most dependable plastic companions have a shelf life. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here’s everything you need to know about why credit cards expire, what to do when yours expires, and what to do if you don’t get a new card in the mail.

So, grab your expired card (if you can find it) and let’s embark on a journey to uncover the secrets, the quirks, and the mild inconveniences that await when your trusty piece of payment plastic meets its inevitable demise.

In this article, you’ll learn:

Why do credit cards expire? 

1. Security 

The biggest reason credit card issuers give their cards expiration dates is to protect their customers. As technology advances, so do the tactics used by fraudsters. So, by expiring cards, it ensures that customers have the latest security measures in place to safeguard their financial information. Regularly issuing new cards with updated security features helps reduce the risk of fraud and unauthorized use. 

2. Updates and upgrades

Another reason credit cards expire is to allow the card issuer to update and upgrade the card’s features. This could include adding new rewards programs, changing the card’s design, or introducing new benefits for cardholders. Expiring cards give the issuer a chance to make these updates and provide customers with an improved card.

3. Physical wear and tear 

Over time, credit cards can become worn out or damaged from regular use. The magnetic strip on the back of the card can become scratched or worn down, making it difficult for card readers to read the information on the card. Issuing new cards with fresh magnetic strips ensures that customers can continue using their cards without any issues.

4. Client/Company re-evaluation

In some cases, credit card issuers may also use the expiration date as an opportunity to re-evaluate their relationship with a client or company. This could be due to changes in the customer’s creditworthiness or financial situation or changes in the company’s policies or business practices. Expiring the card gives the issuer a chance to review and make changes to the terms and conditions of the card.

However, this benefits you, too, especially if you’re someone who keeps their cards stowed away in a drawer somewhere. Getting a notification that a new card will be on the way is a great time to review if you want to keep the card open or if it’s time to upgrade to a new card with better perks more suited to your needs. 

What happens next after a credit card expires? 

You should expect to get a series of notifications a month or so before your current card expires. Depending on your communication preferences, you may get emails, text notifications, or letters. 

New card arrives in the mail 

After your credit card expires, you should expect to receive a new card in the mail from your card issuer. They typically send out the replacement card a few weeks before the expiration date of your current card. It’s important to check your mail regularly and promptly open any correspondence from your credit card issuer. Look out for the new card and any accompanying instructions or activation information.

What to do when your card expires? 

1. Check the new card’s terms and conditions 

When you receive your new credit card, take the time to review the terms and conditions that come with it carefully. This includes the interest rate, fees, and any rewards or benefits associated with the card. Understanding the terms and conditions will help you make informed decisions about using your new card and maximizing its benefits. Contact your card issuer for clarification if you have any questions or concerns about the terms and conditions.

2. Activate your new card 

 Follow the instructions provided by the card issuer to activate your new card. Usually, this can be done online, via the issuer’s phone app, or by calling a toll-free number.

3. Update bills on autopay 

If you have any automatic payments using your old card, update the payment information with your new card number and expiration date. This will ensure that your payments continue uninterrupted.

4. Mail back your old card 

Some issuers will send you a prepaid return envelope you can use to mail back your expired card to be recycled. If you don’t get one, though, it’s okay. You can destroy the old card by cutting it into pieces or sticking it into a shredder. One thing to note: Metal cards can’t be cut up the way plastic cards can, so reach out to your issuer to ask them for a return envelope or for instructions on how to destroy your metal card.

When does a credit card expire? 

A credit card typically expires at the end of the month printed on the card. For example, if the expiration date is 07/23, the card will expire at the end of July 2023. It’s important to note that some cards may expire on the last day of the month, while others may expire on the first day of the month following the printed expiration date.

What to do with your expired credit card? 

Once you have activated your new card, securely destroy your old card by cutting it into small pieces or using a shredder. This helps prevent any potential misuse of the expired card. You can also mail the card back to your issuer and have them destroy it.

Does an expired credit card affect my credit score? 

No, as long as your account remains active (i.e., you’ve received a new card with an updated expiration date) with the issuer, you shouldn’t notice any changes to your credit score. An expired card would only affect your score if the account were closed.


You cannot use a credit card after it has expired. Once a credit card has expired, it is no longer valid for transactions. You will need to activate and start using your new card.

Closing a card is different than letting it expire. An expired credit card will still have an associated account with the credit card company. It will not be closed without your explicit instructions (unless the issuer decides to close your account after a period of inactivity, usually a few years).

If you want to close the account completely you’ll need to contact the credit card company and request an account closure. This can affect your credit utilization ratio and average age of credit, so consider carefully if that’s the route you want to go before calling.

If you don’t activate your new credit card, you won’t be able to use it for any transactions. Activation is an important step in receiving a new credit card, as it verifies your identity and confirms that you have received it. It is recommended to activate your new card as soon as you receive it to ensure it is ready for use.

No, you cannot use an expired credit card. Once a credit card has expired, it is no longer valid for transactions. You will need to activate and start using your new card.

  1. Check your account information. Ensure your mailing address and contact information are up to date since your issuers will send the new card to the address on file.
  2. Check which bills or subscriptions are set to be paid via this card. Most cards will carry the same number as your expired one but will have an updated expiration date. You’ll need to update these vendors with your new information.
  3. Keep an eye out for your new card in the mail. Contact your issuer if you don’t receive your card within two weeks before the expiration date. They can cancel the old card and expedite a replacement.
  4. Consider alternative payment methods. Consider a backup plan for your bills should your new card not arrive before the old card expires. While this is rare, it’s always good to have a contingency plan for your bills, just in case. Other credit cards, debit cards, or ACH transfers are popular options that ensure you don’t miss a payment date.