What Happens When You Use an Expired Credit Card?

Woman frustrated calling company about credit card

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All major credit cards have an expiration date, although some private label retail credit cards (like Bloomingdales) do not have an expiration date. If your credit card does have an expiration date, it is the month and year by which your card will no longer be valid. If you try to use a credit card after the expiration date has passed, your card will likely be declined, and you'll have to choose another method of payment.

Some subscriptions set to your credit cards, such as newspaper or magazine subscriptions, may continue to go through for a few months after the expiration date. Don't be surprised if you receive a call or email from the service provider asking you to update your card's expiration date to keep your subscription active.

Although an expired credit card is no longer valid for purchases, the other terms of your credit card remain intact—this includes your credit limit. And, you're still responsible for making your monthly minimum payments on time each month until your credit card balance is completely repaid.​

How to Find Your Credit Card Expiration Date

Your credit card's expiration date is conveniently printed on the front of your credit card. You'll see a two-digit code for the month and the last two digits of the year. With many credit card issuers, the card expires on the final day of the month the card is set to expire. If you've ever placed a phone or online order, you're probably already familiar with the expiration date because it's required as part of the credit card authorization process.

You don't want your credit card's expiration date to come and go without you realizing it. You can put your expiration date on a calendar to remind yourself when your expiration date is coming but, you're probably not looking two or three years into the future. An alternative is to use Followupthen.com, a reminder service that lets you set up a future email to yourself based on timing. For example, you might email October1st2019@followupthen.com to give yourself a three-month notice that your credit card expires on the first day of January 2020.

What Do I Have to Do?

You can watch your email as you approach your credit card expiration date, but most credit card issuers automatically send a new card before your expiration date passes. The envelope will be inconspicuous to help prevent credit card theft. So don't assume it's a marketing letter and throw away any mail without first checking to see what's inside.

Once you receive your credit card, you'll have to activate it before you can use it. You can call the number on the sticker on the front of the credit card or log into your online account to activate your new card.

Guard Against Theft

Once you activate your new card, shred or cut up the old card to prevent theft or fraudulent purchases from being made with the card. You may even want to toss the cut up pieces in different trash receptacles so they can't be pieced together.

Your new card will have the same credit card account number, but a new expiration date and security code. If you've set up your credit card for any subscriptions, or one-click payments, you'll need to update your card information on those websites. Otherwise, your subscriptions may be canceled, and purchases declined.

Getting a New Card in Time

If you don't receive a new credit card by the time your expiration date comes, contact your credit card issuer using the number on the back of your old credit card to find out if the card has been mailed. In the meantime, you'll have to use an alternate payment method until you receive a credit card with a new expiration date. Some credit card companies, such as American Express, will overnight a new card to you—but you need to ask. If you use a digital wallet, your credit card issuer may be able to update your payment information automatically, and you can use your smartphone to continue to make purchases until your new card arrives.