What Is an Expired Card?

Expired Cards Explained in Less Than 4 Minutes

A person sits on a couch holding a tablet and a credit card
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents

An expired card is a debit or credit card that is no longer valid to make purchases because its expiration date has passed.

Learn what an expired card is, and what to do if you have one.

Definition and Example of an Expired Card

An expired card is a payment card that has passed its expiration date and therefore, you can’t use it anymore to make purchases. If you try to use an expired card, the transaction will probably be declined.

The card typically expires on the last day of the month, and can no longer be used for payment after that date. For example, if your card expires in January 2022, it won’t work beginning Feb. 1, 2022.

Since Dec. 1, 2006, merchants aren’t allowed to print expiration months on credit card receipts.

How Expired Cards Work

Most credit or debit cards have an expiration month and year printed somewhere on the card, typically in MM/YY format. The exact location depends on the card issuer.

On Capital One cards, for example, the expiration date is typically printed on the back of the card next to the security code, while most Barclays cards have the expiration date printed on the front of the card.

The Apple Card does not have its expiration date printed on the card itself. Instead, it’s stored virtually in the cardholder’s Apple Wallet on their iPhone or iPad.

There are several reasons credit cards expire, including:

  • Security: Banks regularly make security updates to their cards, so they’ll often send you a new one to make sure it follows their latest security measures.
  • Technology: Years ago, cards used magnetic strips. Today, the trend is for cards to use something called EMV chips, which improve security and in some cases, enable you to make contactless purchases with a credit or debit card. Banks will periodically update your card to reflect new technology.
  • Wear and tear: Over time, the numbers may wear off on your card and become illegible, or your card may get bent or warped, rendering it unusable. Banks make money when you make purchases with your debit and credit cards, so they have an incentive to replace your cards at regular intervals to encourage you to use them.

If you have an expired card, your bank will likely send you a new one automatically. If not, you can contact your bank to request a new one. Your new card will have a new expiration date and security code, while the card number itself may remain the same.

Occasionally, a card issuer may replace your current card with a completely different card; for example, if it gets lost or stolen. If this happens, your current card will expire before the expiration date printed on it.

In most cases, you need to activate your new card before using it. After receiving your new card, you should shred or otherwise securely dispose of your expired or soon-to-be-expired card, and update any automatic payments with the new card information.

When your card expires, the credit card or bank account attached to it remains active.

Your bank will likely send you a replacement card before your current card expires, so be sure to keep your address information up to date on your account. If your information is outdated, your new card may go to your old address, and whoever lives there now could gain access to it.

Key Takeaways

  • Credit and debit cards usually have expiration dates printed on the front or back. After the last day of the month in which it expires, the card can no longer be used for payment.
  • Cards have expiration dates for a variety of reasons, including the need to regularly update them with the latest security features.
  • If you have an expired card, contact your bank to send you a new one. Make sure your bank has your updated mailing address on file.
  • Upon receiving your new card, activate it and securely destroy your expired card.