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Guide to Destroying a Metal Credit Card

Guide to Destroying a Metal Credit Card
Jason Steele
Jason SteeleUpdated August 8, 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.
Metal cards, like the Centurion Card from American Express (also known as the black credit card) used to be rare and aspirational. Now nearly all major credit card issuers offer some type of metal card. Metal cards are more durable and look fancier, but are otherwise similar to plastic cards. However, metal cards are harder to dispose of than plastic cards. If you have a metal card you no longer need, you may be wondering how to destroy it. The usual method for ditching a card — snipping it up with a pair of kitchen shears — literally won’t cut it. Fortunately, there are several other ways to safely dispose of it. Read on to learn the best ways to destroy metal credit cards (and why you should), plus some of the worst. Recommended: Top Metal Credit Cards 

Why Destroy a Metal Credit Card?

Even if you canceled your metal card or it expired and you received a new one, it’s important to dispose of the old metal card in a way that destroys personal information. While someone can't steal your canceled or expired credit card and use it to make purchases, it can still put you at risk of different types of identity theft and credit card fraudWhen you get your replacement card in the mail, the expiration date and security code change, but the account number stays the same. Identity thieves can put together information from the old card, plus other sources, to commit fraud. Also, since credit cards are often valid for three to five years, it’s not hard to guess the new expiration date. The security code offers some extra protection. However, not all online merchants ask for it.Once you’re a victim of Identity theft, it can be a major headache to get it resolved. Knowing now how to dispose of metal credit cards correctly can help keep it from happening in the first place.Recommended: What is Credit Card Protection? 

Factors to Consider Before Destroying a Credit Card 

But, wait, don’t destroy that metal card yet! If you’re looking to dispose of a card because you plan to close the account, you may want to think twice about whether it's the right decision. Here are some things to consider before you destroy a credit card.
  • Your credit It can be a good idea to keep unused credit card accounts open so that you benefit from a longer average credit history and a larger amount of available credit. Credit scoring models typically reward you for having long-standing credit accounts, and for using only a small portion of your available credit limit.
  • Your rewards If you have a rewards card, you will likely lose the cash back, points, or miles you’ve accumulated in your account once it's closed. You may want to read the terms of your card to see if there is a grace period during which you can still redeem rewards or if it’s possible to transfer the rewards to another card before canceling it.
  • The card's balance It’s possible to cancel a card that still has a credit card balance. However, you still need to pay that balance in full, or it will continue to accrue interest even if the account is closed. 
  • If changing cards is the right move If you’re thinking about closing an account because of its annual fee or rewards setup, it may be worth calling the card issuer to see if you can switch to a card with different terms. This way, you can avoid closing an account and potentially impacting your credit. 
  • Automatic payments If you’ve set up automatic payments through the card you are about to destroy, remember to switch those accounts to your new credit card. 
Recommended: How Many Credit Cards Is It Reasonable to Have? 

Ways to Get Rid of a Metal Credit Card 

Once you’re ready to say goodbye to your old metal credit card, here are some ways you can safely dispose of it.

Send It Back to Your Credit Card Issuer

One of the safest ways to dispose of a metal card is to mail it to the credit card issuer. Many card issuers will provide a pre-addressed, postage-paid envelope when they mail a new or replacement metal card to make it easy to send the old one back. You can also request a prepaid envelope from the issuer by calling the phone number on the back of your credit card. 

Return It to a Physical Bank Branch

If you live close to a physical bank branch, it can be worth calling or stopping by and asking a representative about options for getting rid of your metal credit card. The branch may be able to accept the credit card in person or give you other options.

Destroy It on Your Own

You can physically destroy your metal credit card at home with a pair of tin snips, a type of shears designed for sheet metal.  They look like a cross between a pair of pliers and garden shears and can easily cut through the metal used for a credit card. You can find tin snips at hardware stores.

Stow It Away

Another option is to simply stow your credit card away in a safe place, such as a locked file drawer or safe. This is a particularly good option if the card hasn't expired and there’s a chance you might use it again in the future. It also enables you to avoid closing the account, and allows access to the card in case of an emergency.Recommended: Choosing a Credit Card 

What Not to Do With a Metal Credit Card 

The above ways to destroy a metal card are some of the best. Now let’s look at some of the worst ways to dispose of a metal card. Here’s what not to do.

Don’t Give It to Third-Party Services

It’s generally not a good idea to give your retired credit card to anyone other than the card issuer, even if the card is already expired or canceled. Any third-party service that offers to destroy your metal credit card for you is likely a scam. This is especially true if the third-party service sent unsolicited offers to dispose of your metal card.

Don’t Toss it in the Garbage

It may make its way to a landfill without incident, but there’s always the risk that, somewhere on the journey, it could end up in the wrong hands.

Don’t put it in a Shredder

Don’t put your metal card in your at-home shredder, In fact, some metal cards even come with a specific warning not to put the card in a shredder. Home shredders may be able to destroy plastic cards, but they can’t handle metal cards. Even heavy-duty or industrial shredders may not be able to handle a metal card. If you attempt to shred a metal card, you may damage the shredder.

Searching for Your Next Credit Card? Compare Offers With Lantern   

If you’re in the market for a new credit card to replace your metal one, Lantern by SoFi can help. With our online credit card marketplace, you can quickly compare personalized offers from multiple credit card issuers all in one place, and without making any commitment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I destroy my metal credit card with tin snips?
What are metal credit cards made of?
Can I still use an expired credit card?
Can I burn a metal credit card?
Photo credit: iStock/Georgii Boronin

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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