How to Dispose of Your Credit Cards

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These days, it seems like we're always getting a new credit or debit card in the mail. It's easy to activate a new card and stick it in your wallet. But what do you do with the old card?

You definitely want to destroy it properly, because an intact card can give identity thieves all the information they need to steal your identity and destroy your credit. When destroying an old card, you want to focus on destroying the information contained on the card, including the stamped name and numbers, as well as the RFID chip and magnetic strip. You also want to make it difficult for anyone to try to piece your information together when you're done.

There are many different methods for destroying credit cards. There are shredders specifically designed to destroy credit cards. You can also burn the card (but that's bad for the environment, as well as your health). You could microwave it in a bowl of water. You could even throw it in your blender.

But the easiest, and perhaps most effective, method of destroying your credit card is with a pair of strong scissors. Start with the long way, and make one - or better yet two - cuts through the magnetic strip. Then cut the magnetic strip the short way into little pieces.

Take the remaining portion of the credit card and this time make one or two cuts the long way through the numbers and your name. Again, cut those strips the short way.

If the RFID chip (the holographic square on the front or back of the card) is still intact, cut it up into multiple pieces as well.

At this point, you want to scatter the pieces of credit card to make it extremely difficult to put back together by dropping the pieces in different trash cans. One mother even went a step further and scattered the pieces in her baby's poopy diapers!

If you are destroying your credit card because you no longer intend to use the card (as opposed to destroying it because you received a replacement card), then you might consider closing the account as well. Closing the account naturally makes it difficult for an identity thief to make fraudulent charges to that account. But, closing a credit card account can have a negative impact on your credit score since the length of your credit history is an important factor in its calculation. Therefore, only close an account that has a zero balance and is not your oldest account or your only account. If you choose to leave the account open, be sure to monitor the account to make sure there is no unauthorized activity.

About Cathy

Cathy is the founder of Chief Family Officer, where you can get daily updates on the hottest deals, and tips to achieve financial freedom and family bliss.

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