You donate your old clothes, pour spoiled milk down the drain and put other waste in the trash. Shouldn’t knowing how to get rid of a credit card be as simple?

Once you have decided that you want to close a credit card account, here are five steps you should take to dispose of your credit card:

1. Contact the card issuer.

The first step toward getting rid of a credit card is to close the account with the card issuer. You can call the number on the back of your card and inform the representative that you will be closing your account. This is also a good time to ask whether you have any remaining credit card rewards that you can only redeem before closing your account. If you don’t redeem all your rewards, Discover will credit your account with your rewards balance if your account is closed or has not been used in 18 months.

2. Update automatic payments.

Once your account is closed, any attempts to make a new charges to your account will be declined. Therefore, you’ll want to contact any merchants that have your credit card on file for automatic payments and make new arrangements. For example, you might have a credit card on file with your mobile phone provider, cable or satellite television company, or with any other merchant that bills you each month.

3. Destroy your cards.

After your account is closed, you’ll need to physically destroy your credit cards. You can cut up your plastic cards with scissors, but many paper shredders are able to destroy credit cards using a dedicated slot for plastic cards. If you have a credit card that’s made of metal, you’ll need to ask your card issuer to send you a return envelope so they can destroy.

4. Notify your authorized cardholders.

If you have any authorized users on your account, then you’ll need to notify them that the account is closed, so that they won’t attempt to make new charges. They will also need to notify any merchants that have the card on file, and destroy their cards.

5. Pay the final bill.

Once your account is closed, you’ll still be responsible for payment of the outstanding balance. And since it can take several days for some charges to post, it’s possible that it could take one or two billing cycles before you see all of the charges you’ve made on your monthly statement.

With most cards, you can avoid interest charges on purchases(balance transfers and cash advances beginning accruing interest the day they post) by paying your statement balance in full by the due date. If you carry a balance, you will be charged interest at the applicable APR.

Bottom line

Disposing of your credit card is not as simple as taking out the trash, but it’s not that hard. If you follow these five steps, then you can get rid of your credit cards in the most secure and responsible way.

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.