How to Dispose of a Credit Card

Cutting Up Those Credit Cards
Cutting Up Those Credit Cards (Image: Rogue Sun Media @ Flickr)

Throwing away a credit card without properly cutting it up is an identity thief's dream come true. Considering that some thieves have the audacity to go through your garbage in broad daylight, it's definitely a good idea to make a few cuts in that old credit card to make sure your personal financial information doesn't fall into the wrong hands.

Things You'll Need

  • Unwanted credit card
  • Scissors

Make your first cut lengthwise through the center of the embossed digits on the front of the card.

Make additional cuts between every four digits on the front of the card. If you feel this isn't enough, make a cut between every two digits.

Locate the 3-digit security code (see image) on the back of the credit card. If this code has not been cut, make another cut so it will be unrecognizable.

3 digit security code
3 digit security code

Review your pieces and make sure that no significant amount of information can be retrieved from any one piece.

Dispose of them over a period of time. Place a few pieces in the trash each time you take out your garbage so if anyone does search your trash for personal information, they can't retrieve all the pieces and reassemble them.

Tips & Warnings

  • Find creative ways to dispose of your important financial documents after making them unrecognizable. Useful suggestions would be to throw them away in leftover food scraps, baby diapers, or anything else that the average person wouldn't normally consider. Some argue that demagnetizing a credit card is necessary before throwing them away. If you wish to try this, pass a few refrigerator magnets over the magnetic strip on the back of the card.
  • Just because you cut up the credit card, doesn't mean your account is still closed. If you're intention is to fully close the account, call the credit card manufacturer to close your account, then cut up your credit card.

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