What is an Expired Card

An expired card is a credit card that is no longer usable because its expiration date has passed. An expired card would be rejected if a consumer tries to use it to make a purchase. But in some cases, it may continue to work, so consumers should shred their expired credit cards rather than simply throwing them in the trash to prevent a thief from attempting to use them.

BREAKING DOWN Expired Card

Credit cards are issued with a four-digit expiration date, usually printed on the front of the card, and become expired cards after that date. For example, a card that expires in November 2019 will have an expiration date of 11/19. Though no day is specified, the card will not expire until the last day of the month.

The credit card company will send the consumer a new card with a new expiration date several weeks before the existing card expires, assuming it wants to keep the consumer as a customer. The new card will usually have the same account number as the expired card, but a different expiration date and three-digit CVV code.

Cardholders with an expired card, or a nearly expired card, and who haven’t received a replacement yet, should call the number on the back of the card to ask the issuer for a replacement card. A data error could have caused the issuer to fail to send a new card, or a new card could have been lost or stolen, in which case the issuer can cancel that card and issue a new one.

Benefits of Replacing Expired Cards

If credit card companies usually send consumers new cards when the expiration date is approaching, why do they bother with expiration dates at all? One reason is that cards wear out over time: the magnetic strip can become unreadable, the computer chip can malfunction, and the information printed on the card can become hard to read. In addition to improving physical reliability, replacing a card gives the card issuer another chance to interact with the customer and possibly sell him or her an additional financial product. A card issuer may have changed their name or the design of their corporate logo, a new card keeps the consumer current on these changes.

Credit cards have expiration dates for security reasons as well. It acts as an extra security verification for card not present transactions that occur when consumers make online purchases. It can also be a deterrent if an expired card is discovered and an authorized person attempts to use it. (For related reading, see "What Happens When Your Credit Card Expires?")