Traditionally, destroying a credit card you no longer use was as easy as reaching for a pair of scissors or heading to your home shredder.
However, more issuers are making the switch to sturdier metal credit cards, and the trend doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. American Express made the switch with The Platinum Card® from American Express in 2017 and American Express® Gold Card in 2018, and this year’s Apple Card was released to much fanfare for its sleek titanium build.
But when your metal card expires or otherwise becomes unusable, scissors, box cutters and even paper shredders are no longer enough to get the job done. So what’s the best way to destroy a metal card? Here are a few options:
Send it to your issuer
Sending your expired or otherwise compromised metal credit card back to your issuer is often the best way to make sure the card will be properly disposed.
If you receive a new card, your issuer may enclose with it an envelope with prepaid postage for you to return your old card for recycling or disposal.
According to a representative from Chase, which offers both the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card in metal form, Chase cardmembers also receive a prepaid envelope at account opening to mail cards back for proper disposal in the future.
American Express has announced a new recycling program, beginning in 2020, which will “enable card members to send back their expired or non-working Cards to American Express who will ensure that they are properly recycled.”
If you don’t receive a prepaid envelope with your newly-issued card or you lose track of the one included with your old card, simply call the phone number on the back of your card to request one or ask for further assistance.
Try going in-branch
If you’d rather deal with the hand-off in person, you can also walk into one of your issuing bank’s brick-and-mortar locations to return a metal card.
Chase confirms that cardmembers can bring old credit cards into Chase Bank branches for proper disposal rather than wait for a prepaid envelope to arrive by mail. While each issuer may have a different policy, speaking to a representative at a physical branch of your bank can help you determine the best course of action.
Stow it away
If you want to dispose of your card solely to keep yourself from taking on a higher balance, you may be best off simply putting it in a kitchen drawer for safekeeping or even storing it in a frozen block of ice.
This can be a good solution if you don’t want to risk (temporarily) hurting your credit score by closing the account. It also allows you to maintain access to the card in case of emergency.
If you do decide to stash your old card away at home, make sure that you keep it in a safe, relatively inaccessible place where your information’s security won’t be compromised. If you’re sure you won’t need the card again in the future, you may want to go a step further and remove the EMV chip or demagnetize the strip and cover your signature and card number so your information is safe even if it does fall into the wrong hands.
If you already know you won’t be needing the card again, you can also dispose of it by destroying it yourself.
While regular kitchen scissors aren’t likely to do much damage against a metal credit card, you should be able to easily cut it into pieces after a trip to the hardware store (or the toolbox in your garage) for tin snips.
Tin snips are shears used to cut sheet metal and other tough materials, and they should do the trick with any metal card you have lying around. If you want a quick solution and you happen to have these handy, this is an easy DIY disposal method.
If you really want to make a production of getting rid of your card, there are plenty of tales across the web of creative ways cardholders have tried to destroy theirs, from blowtorches to fire pits and pliers.
Most of these methods aren’t the most practical way to destroy your card, but can be a fun experiment, as long as you remember to keep the metal away from both the microwave and your home shredder. According to Chase, all the issuer’s metal cards even have a note on the back indicating not to shred it.
A credit card made from metal may be a bit more complicated to destroy than plastic, but it’s not impossible. In most cases, the most viable solution is to simply contact your issuer for proper disposal. Call the phone number on the back of your card to request a prepaid envelope for return and disposal or ask about your issuer’s preferred method.
And remember, even if you dispose of the card itself, don’t throw your points or cash back earnings away. Check, and then double check, your accounts to ensure that you don’t have any lingering rewards waiting to be used before they expire or are forfeited upon account closing.