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What Is a Credit Card Expiration Date?

Last Updated: March 10, 2024
4 min read

Key points about: expired credit cards

  1. A credit card expiration date helps protect against fraud and keeps your card up to date.

  2. When a credit card expires, it’s no longer usable and may be declined when you try to use the card at checkout.

  3. After your old credit card expires and you’ve activated your new card, you should properly dispose of your old card.

When you’re using your credit card to shop online or complete a transaction over the phone, you may be asked to provide your card’s expiration date. Have you ever wondered why you need to input your credit card expiration date, or why credit cards expire? One reason is credit card security, but there’s more to credit card expiration dates than just fraud protection.

Why credit cards have an expiration date

Credit cards have expiration dates for multiple reasons, including as a security measure and to help keep your card’s technology up to date.

A credit card expiration date protects against fraud

The credit card expiration date and other information printed on a credit card are used as a layer of protection against fraud. When making purchases online or over the phone, you’re asked to provide the credit card number and other personal information, like the full name on the credit card account, the billing address, expiration date, and the CVV (card verification value) number on the back of the card. If an individual is attempting to use your account number for a fraudulent purchase, they may have more trouble doing so if they don’t have the physical card in hand and have access to the card’s other information.

Did you know?

Some credit card issuers may offer you more comprehensive fraud protection. For example, Discover Identity Theft Protection can help monitor things like your credit report and if your personal information appears across the web.

Expiration dates help ensure cards stay up to date

Credit card technology continues to improve, helping to make cards more secure and easier to use. Credit card expiration dates help ensure cards are updated regularly and have the newest technology.

Credit cards wear out

Over months or years, the magnetic strip on the back of the card or the embedded EMV microchip on a credit card can become worn out and no longer readable when you swipe or insert the card at an ATM or card reader. By having an expiration date, a credit card company can be sure to routinely send you a new card, so you don’t have a situation where your card becomes unusable.

What day of the month does a credit card expire?

Credit card expiration dates are usually listed numerically on a card as a two-digit month and two-digit year. For example, 12/27 means the credit card has an expiration date of December 31st, 2027. Credit cards expire on the last day of the month listed on the card.

What happens when your credit card expires?

When credit cards expire, they're no longer usable. If you try to pay with an expired credit card, your transaction may be declined. Typically, your credit card issuer will proactively send you a new card before your old card’s expiration date. When you have it, you should activate your new credit card and update any accounts or automatic payments that use your expired card’s information. Otherwise, a recurring payment with your expired credit card information won't go through.

See if you're pre-approved

With no harm to your credit score2

What to do if you haven’t received a replacement credit card

If your credit card has expired, but you never received a new card with a new expiration date, you should contact your credit card issuer as soon as possible. You can use the phone number on the back of your current card, or log in to your online account or mobile app and contact your issuer for a replacement. If you’re a Discover Cardmember, you can talk to a real person from our customer service team any time.1

A new credit card may be an opportunity to maximize credit card rewards. Every Discover Card earns rewards as you shop; the best fit may offer cash back on the purchases you make most often.

What do you do with your old credit card when it expires?

Once you have your new credit card and activate it, you should dispose of your old credit card. But don’t just throw it away. You could still be susceptible to identity theft or fraud if someone were to get a hold of your old credit card. Cutting up a credit card and disposing of the pieces separately in multiple garbage bags should be enough to protect your credit card information.  These same steps could also help you dispose of a prepaid card, gift card, or debit card after their expiration date. 

A credit card expiration date serves many purposes on a card, most notably to help protect against credit card fraud. If your expiration date is approaching, now you’ll know the steps to take when your new card arrives, and what you should do with your expired card.

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  1. You can reach a live agent anytime by calling 1-800-DISCOVER (1-800-347-2683). Certain specialized customer service agents may not be available 24/7.
  2. There is no hard inquiry to your credit report to check if you’re pre-approved. If you’re pre-approved, and you move forward with submitting an application for the credit card, it will result in a hard inquiry which may impact your credit score. Receiving a pre-approval offer does not guarantee approval. Applicants applying without a social security number are not eligible to receive pre-approval offers. Card applicants cannot be pre-approved for the NHL Discover Card.

  • Legal Disclaimer: This site is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for professional advice. The material on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice and does not indicate the availability of any Discover product or service. It does not guarantee that Discover offers or endorses a product or service. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.