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Guide to Credit Card Expiration Dates

Guide to Credit Card Expiration Dates
Jason Steele
Jason SteeleUpdated October 12, 2022
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Editor’s note: Lantern by SoFi seeks to provide content that is objective, independent and accurate. Writers are separate from our business operation and do not receive direct compensation from advertisers or partners. Read more about our Editorial Guidelines and How We Make Money.
Your credit card has an expiration date that serves some important purposes. For one thing, it  can help protect you against fraud. A credit card expiration date also ensures that you have an updated card with the latest technology, which makes it easier to use.  Read on to learn more about the way credit card expiration dates work and the steps to take when your card expires.

What Is a Credit Card Expiration Date?

The expiration date on a credit card indicates when the card will no longer be valid. The card expiration date is typically a four-digit number that’s on the front, or sometimes the back, of the card. The credit card expires at the end of the month listed on the card. Credit cards typically expire every three years, but credit card expiration dates can be for longer or shorter periods of time, depending on the card issuer. It’s important to know that even though your credit card expires, your account remains active as long as it’s in good standing. Your credit card issuer should send you a new credit card 30 to 60 days before your old one expires.

What Is the Credit Card Expiration Date Format?

The most common format for credit card expiration dates is “MM/YY.” That stands for a two-digit number that represents the month the card expires, followed by a two-digit number that represents an abbreviation of the year the card expires. So, for instance, January 2025 would appear on your credit card as 01/25. When you’re asked to give your credit card expiration date online or over the phone, use the MM/YY format. 

How Credit Card Expiration Dates Are Determined

Each card issuer has its own policy for deciding how long their credit cards remain active. When a new card is printed, the expiration date is based on that policy. For example, if a card issuer has cards that expire in three years, a new credit card account opened in June of 2022 will likely have an expiration date of June of 2025. 

Why Do Credit Cards Expire?

Card issuers put expiration dates on credit cards for a number of reasons. The most common ones are:

Wear and Tear 

Most credit cards today contain a magnetic stripe and a smart chip, both of which can wear out over time. If they degrade, your card may not work properly. Giving credit cards an expiration date so they are replaced on a regular basis prevents this from happening. 

Fraud Security

When you use a credit card to make a purchase online or over the phone, you’re asked for the card’s expiration date. This serves as a layer of security to help prevent fraud. If someone else has obtained your credit card account number and credit card security code, they cannot use the card to make a purchase unless the expiration date is provided. Having an expiration date is a way to thwart many common credit card scams. 


Having an expiration date on a credit card is an effective way for card issuers to update and upgrade their inventory of cards to give users the latest security and technology. Credit card technology is constantly evolving. For example, chip technology continues to improve, and many new cards now come with contactless payment systems that allow you to tap to pay. 

Marketing for Credit Card Companies

Credit card expiration dates allow credit card issuers to give you a new card with their updated logo, if they have one. It also provides them with an opportunity to send you other offers and promotional materials with the new card. 

How Do I Find the Expiration Date on My Card?

The expiration date on a credit card can be located on the front or back of the card. Typically, the expiration date is on the front of the card, on the right side, just below the account number. However, some card designs now put the account number and expiration date on the back of the card. If you don’t see the expiration date on the front, check the back.

What Happens When Your Credit Card Expires?

After the last day of the month and year of your credit card’s expiration date, your card will no longer be valid. Any purchase you attempt to make will be declined. Your card issuer should mail a replacement card to you several weeks before the expiration date. If they don’t, contact the issuer. 

What to Do When Your Credit Card Expires

Once you’ve received your replacement card, you should activate it by calling the phone number that’s listed on a sticker on the front of the card or going to the card’s online activation site. Then destroy and dispose of the old card. You can cut up a plastic credit card with scissors. Or use a shredder that works on plastic cards. If you have a metal credit card, you’ll need to mail it back to the card issuer to be destroyed. The issuer should send you a prepaid return envelope that you can use to send back the card for destruction — contact them to request it. 

What to Look for in a New Credit Card

There are many factors to consider when you’re looking to get a new credit card. You will likely want to look for a card with the lowest possible interest rate, or perhaps a card with a 0% APR promotional financing offer for new purchases, balance transfers, or both. If you don’t have a good or excellent credit score, you’ll need to find a card that makes sense  for you. For instance, if your credit is considered fair, there are credit cards for fair credit you can check into.  For someone whose credit score is bad, a secured card, which can help build your credit, could be a good option. Secured cards work like other credit cards, but they require you to make a refundable security deposit before the account can be opened. The deposit acts as collateral for the account.If you have good or excellent credit and you plan on avoiding interest charges by paying your balance in full each month, you may want a rewards card that offers the most valuable cash back or travel rewards. When selecting a rewards card, consider the card’s new account bonus, which is typically a lump sum of points or miles for spending you do when you first get your card, as well as additional rewards offered for purchases you make frequently, such as groceries or gas. You might also want to consider cardholder benefits like travel insurance or purchase protection. Always be sure to check out any fees, including an annual fee and foreign transaction fees. Fortunately, there are plenty of credit cards for good credit to choose from.

Compare Credit Cards With Lantern

When you’re looking for a new credit card, you’ll want to review all the options to get the best terms and interest rates available. Lantern by SoFi can help. Our online marketplace offers a selection of credit cards where you can easily compare different offers and terms all in one place. Lantern makes it convenient to find the right credit card that suits your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do credit cards expire?
What happens when your credit card expires?
What do I do when my credit card expires?
Photo credit: iStock/mapodile

About the Author

Jason Steele

Jason Steele

Jason Steele has been writing about credit cards and award travel since 2008. One of the nation's leading experts in this field, he has contributed to dozens of personal finance and travel outlets and has been widely quoted in the mainstream media.
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