How to Safely Destroy and Dispose of a Metal Credit Card

Credit Cards
Published: 6 months ago, Last Updated: 6 months ago
Richard Brooks
Writer: Richard Brooks
Jackson Rhodes
Reviewer: Jackson Rhodes
Listen minutes

Recall the day your first metal credit card arrived in the mail. It wasn’t in a fancy package, just a standard envelope nestled among your daily posts. Yet, when you slid the card out, its weight and metallic sheen were the first hints of its uniqueness. 

Fast forward to today, your card has been through countless transactions. Perhaps it’s time to retire this veteran of your wallet, making room for a fresh card that has just been delivered. But this poses a significant question: how to destroy a metal credit card in a way that’s both safe and secure?

You’re not alone in wondering. Metal credit cards can’t just be tossed into the trash or snipped with your average pair of scissors. In this guide, we delve into reliable methods for ensuring your old card doesn’t jeopardize your financial security.

Understanding the Importance of Secure Metal Credit Card Disposal

Whether you’re dealing with a business credit card or personal, metal credit cards are gateways to sensitive financial information such as your card number and CVV. Failing to dispose of metal credit cards properly can lead to identity theft, unauthorized transactions, and financial fraud. 

Learning how to destroy a metal credit card properly is key to ensuring it can’t be used fraudulently. It’s not just about discarding a piece of metal – it’s about closing the chapter on that account. Without thorough destruction, you risk leaving a ‘ghost account’ open, vulnerable to unauthorized use. Taking the necessary steps to deactivate and destroy your card safeguards your credit score and provides peace of mind from potential fraud.

But before you dispose of your credit card, make sure it is no longer active. You may be wondering how to check if a credit card is active. Luckily, there are several ways to do so, from calling the number on the back of the card, going online, or visiting a physical branch.

Best Methods for Disposing of a Metal Credit Card

Once your credit card is out of commission, you may be wondering what to do with old metal credit cards. There are many ways to effectively destroy a metal credit card to ensure both security and peace of mind. So, what to do with metal credit cards when it’s time to say goodbye? Below, we explore the best options so you can choose the one that’s most convenient for you.

Return It to a Local Bank Branch

If you’re looking for a foolproof way to ensure that your metal credit card is destroyed securely, taking it to a local bank branch can be an excellent alternative.

Cardholder signing paperwork at bank

Many bank branches are equipped with specialized shredders capable of destroying metal credit cards effectively and securely. But before you go, here are some steps to make this process smooth and foolproof:

  1. Call Ahead: Contact your local branch to confirm if they offer metal card destruction services. Some smaller branches may not have the required equipment.
  2. Verify Identification: Bring identification that matches the name on the credit card. Banks will typically ask for this to ensure the card belongs to you.
  3. Watch the Destruction Process: If allowed, request to view the shredding process to make sure your card was appropriately destroyed.
  4. Request a Certificate: Some banks offer a certificate of destruction, confirming that the card was disposed of securely. This serves as official proof that your card was destroyed, safeguarding you against any future disputes or concerns regarding the card’s whereabouts.

Opting to return your metal credit card to a local bank branch gives you the benefit of instant confirmation. Moreover, this service is often provided free of charge, making it not only secure but also cost-effective.

Mail It Back to Your Issuer

Sending your metal credit card back to the issuer is a reliable method for secure destruction. Credit card companies have specialized procedures designed to dispose of old cards securely. Here’s how to go about this method step-by-step:

  1. Contact Customer Service: The first thing you should do is reach out to your credit card issuer’s customer service to inquire about the proper procedures for card return.
  2. Package the Card Securely: Your old credit card is still a sensitive piece of material. Wrap it in a piece of paper and place it inside a padded envelope. This ensures that the card can’t be easily seen or damaged during transit.
  3. Send It Off: Don’t just drop it in a mailbox; use a mailing service you trust. Make sure to get a tracking number so you can follow the package until it reaches its destination and is confirmed as received by your issuer.

This approach is among the safest since it places the card directly back into the hands of the professionals trained to dispose of it securely. Additionally, this service is usually offered free of charge by most credit card companies, sparing you the financial burden of seeking alternative, less secure methods for card destruction. 

Stow It Away Safely

Some people form an attachment to their metal credit cards, perhaps because it’s a status symbol or a souvenir from a significant period in life. If you’re among those who don’t want to part with their card, you can store it in a manner that ensures it won’t become a liability.

Close up on stack of credit cards

Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Deactivate the Card: The first step, even before storage, is to call your credit card issuer and deactivate the card to prevent unauthorized transactions.
  2. Remove It from Digital Wallets: Ensure you remove the card from Apple Pay, Google Pay, or any other digital wallet to prevent accidental use.
  3. Secure Physical Storage: Choose a secure physical location, like a lockbox, safe, or even a safe deposit box at your local bank. These options provide varying levels of security and access restrictions.
  4. Label Clearly but Discreetly: Store the card in an envelope labeled in a way that you can identify but others cannot easily recognize. For instance, avoid writing “Credit Card” on the envelope.
  5. Periodic Checks: Make it a habit to periodically check the storage area and ensure that it has not been tampered with.

Storing a deactivated credit card safely may sound overly cautious, but it’s a step that should not be overlooked. Financial information can still be extracted from an inactive card, leading to identity theft or unauthorized transactions. By following these steps, you ensure that your sentimentality doesn’t compromise your financial security.

Step-By-Step Guide: Destroying Your Metal Credit Card DIY Style

If you’re the hands-on type, destroying your metal credit card yourself can be an efficient and practical approach. This method lets you personally ensure the card is rendered useless, all from the comfort of your home. Here’s how to do it right:

Step 1: Bending

You might be skeptical about bending your metal credit card, given its sturdy construction, but don’t underestimate this step. Grab the card at both ends and bend it back and forth several times. While it may seem futile, this initial action starts to compromise the integrity of the metal, making it more susceptible to the subsequent destruction steps.

Step 2: Cutting With Tin Snips

Once you’ve weakened the card through bending, it’s time to bring out the heavy artillery: tin snips. This is how you cut a metal credit card correctly. Ordinary scissors won’t make the cut – literally.

Close up on cardholder cutting credit card with scissors

Don a pair of protective gloves and eyewear for this step because tin snips are powerful and can cause injury if mishandled. Cut the card into multiple pieces, focusing on slicing through key data points like the card number and chip.

Step 3: Peeling

After cutting, your next mission is to peel apart the layers of the card. This exposes the inner chip and magnetic stripe, the elements holding sensitive data. Use a flat-edged tool like a screwdriver to help you separate the layers.

Step 4: Damaging

With the inner components of the card now exposed, take a hammer or another heavy object to pound the chip and magnetic stripe thoroughly. Your goal is to deform these parts to the point where they are unrecognizable and unusable. Swing with intent but also take necessary precautions to avoid injury.

Step 5: Shredding and Why Regular Shredders Are a No-No

When thinking of how to dispose of metal credit cards, your first thought might be to shred them. However, attempting to shred metal credit cards with a regular paper shredder is not recommended when figuring out how to destroy a metal credit card. These machines aren’t designed to handle metal and could be damaged in the process. For proper disposal, you may want to consider purchasing an industrial-grade shredder capable of handling metal. 

These specialized shredders can be found at office supply stores, hardware stores, or through online retailers. Smaller units designed for small office or home use start at $200. The investment in an industrial-grade shredder can be beneficial beyond just disposing of your metal credit card. It can serve as a reliable tool for securely shredding other metal objects, thick materials, or sensitive documents that require thorough destruction.

What Not to Do: Pitfalls to Avoid

In your quest to securely throw away your credit card, recognize that not all credit card types, particularly metal ones, can be disposed of in the same manner. Always remember metal cards require special disposal methods, and knowing exactly how to destroy a metal credit card can help you avoid compromising your financial security.

Avoid Trusting Third-Party Services

Using a third-party service might appear convenient when thinking of how to destroy a metal credit card, but convenience should never trump security. These external services introduce several risks:

  1. Data Mishandling: There’s no guarantee that these third-party services will dispose of your card in a manner that destroys all data. Improper handling could lead to your sensitive information being compromised.
  2. Lack of Accountability: If the third-party service fails to dispose of your card securely and data breaches occur, tracking responsibility becomes complex. You are left with little recourse if something goes wrong.
  3. Additional Costs: These services often charge a fee, making them a less economical choice than other secure methods that are typically free.
  4. Unverified Procedures: Not all services are certified or follow industry standards for data destruction, leading to increased risks of mishandling your information.
  5. Potential Fraud: Some third-party services may not be legitimate and could be fronts for fraudulent activities. Providing your card to a disreputable service could lead to identity theft or unauthorized transactions.

In light of these risks, it’s advisable to stick with more dependable methods where you have control and assurance over the complete and secure disposal of your card.

Discarding in Regular Trash

Tossing your metal credit card into the regular trash is fraught with risk. Even if the card is cut into pieces, without the right knowledge of how to destroy a metal credit card, the embossed or printed information could remain legible, offering a treasure trove of data to potential identity thieves. Trash bins are far from secure; they are easily accessible to anyone who decides to take a peek inside. 

Credit card in trash can

Dumpster divers specifically target these bins in search of personal information that can be used for fraud. The mere fragments of a credit card could provide enough data for a skilled individual to reconstruct account details, potentially leading to unauthorized transactions and financial loss. Moreover, trash disposal services are not bound by the same privacy protections as financial institutions, meaning once your card is in the bin, its fate is out of your hands.

Burning the Card

You might think that you can burn your credit card to ensure its total destruction. However, this method is not without its hazards. Metal credit cards are composed of materials that may release harmful fumes when incinerated. These toxic emissions can pose significant health risks if inhaled and are detrimental to the environment. 

Furthermore, the combustion process isn’t foolproof. High temperatures are required to melt metal, and standard household methods may not reach the necessary heat to destroy the card fully. This means your personal data might survive the flames, still at risk of being recovered and exploited. 

Additionally, burning is a fire hazard, especially if done without proper safety measures or equipment. Given these risks, burning is neither a safe nor an environmentally responsible method for disposing of your metal credit card.

Alternative Uses and Creative Ideas for Old Metal Credit Cards

Before you rush to dispose of that old metal credit card, consider it could have a second life. There are creative and secure ways to repurpose or keep it that don’t compromise your financial safety.

In any repurposing venture, the first step is to ensure that all sensitive information on the card is rendered unreadable. This could be done by sanding off the embossed details, using a metal punch to distort the card number, or defacing the magnetic strip and chip. Once the card is secure from potential data theft, the possibilities for upcycling are as limitless as your imagination.

Transform Into Art or Jewelry

Instead of focusing solely on how to destroy a metal credit card, why not transform it into art or jewelry? Metal credit cards, with their unique designs and sturdy material, make excellent bases for art projects. Consider embedding the card into a clear resin block to create a modern paperweight or a conversation-starting art piece. 

Alternatively, you can use the metal card as a centerpiece for a piece of jewelry. For example, cut it into smaller pieces and fashion it into a striking charm for a bracelet or a pendant for a necklace. Before embarking on any craft, make sure to remove or obscure any sensitive information from the card’s surface.

Upcycle into Practical Tools

With a bit of creativity, your old metal card can become a practical tool. Its firmness makes it an ideal candidate for a guitar pick for musicians or a scraper for artists working with paints and clays. You could even repurpose it as a custom stencil for your crafting projects. Just remember to remove or deface any personal data before you start crafting.

Create Unique Home Decor

Your old metal card can add a personalized touch to your home decor. Cut it into smaller pieces and incorporate them into a mosaic tabletop, giving it a shimmering, metallic flair. Or, sand the surface to remove sensitive information and paint over it to create a miniature artwork that can be magnetized and displayed on your fridge.

Fashion into a Custom Bookmark

A metal card is the perfect thickness for a durable bookmark. Sand off the details and paint or etch it with your favorite quote, making it a stylish and functional accessory for your reading sessions.

In Conclusion

Selecting the appropriate method for disposing of your metal credit card is key to safeguarding your financial information. Whether you opt to mail it back to the issuer or take it to a local bank for specialized destruction, each method comes with its own set of guidelines for secure handling. Regardless of your chosen method, always make financial safety your main focus to sidestep risks like identity theft and unauthorized transactions.

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