All You Need to Know About Credit Card Expiration Dates

By Jason Steele · March 12, 2024 · 6 minute read

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All You Need to Know About Credit Card Expiration Dates

Credit cards typically expire two to five years after they are issued. The date on the card reflects the final month and year you can make purchases with your card.

Cards have expiration dates for reasons ranging from security to marketing, but issuers are usually very good about sending a new card before the old one is invalidated.

Here’s a closer look at what credit card expiration dates are, why they exist, and what the expiration date on your card means to you as a credit card user.

What Is a Credit Card Expiration Date?

An important aspect of how credit cards work, a credit card’s expiration date represents the last day you can use it for purchases. Consider these details:

•   Credit card expiration dates are typically printed as a two-digit month followed by a two-digit year. The last day of the month printed is the last day that you can use your credit card to make new purchases. If you try to make a purchase on the first day of the following month, the transaction will be declined.

•   For example, if your card has an expiration date of 06/25, then you can use that card until June 30, 2025. If you were to try to use that card to make a purchase somewhere that accepts credit card payments on July 1, 2025 — or any time thereafter — you could expect a situation wherein your credit card was declined, per credit card expiration date rules.

Fortunately, credit card issuers will typically mail you a new card with a new expiration date long before your card expires — you won’t have to worry about applying for a credit card.

Most card issuers will mail out a new card 30 to 60 days before your old card is due to expire, so you’ll never be without a valid card.

Why Do Credit Cards Expire?

There are several reasons that credit cards expire.

•   For one, the credit card expiration date serves as an additional security feature.

•   Credit cards also expire so that card issuers can keep track of their inventory and provide customers with new cards with updated features and technology.

•   Also, the magnetic stripes and computer chips in credit cards also wear out, so having an expiration date allows card issuers to ensure that cards don’t fail as often.

•   Beyond reasons of functionality, replacing credit cards also gives card issuers an opportunity to market new products (and credit card rewards) and update their brand image.

How to Find Your Credit Card Expiration Date

Your credit card’s expiration date will always appear on the card. In most cases, the expiration date will appear on the front of the card, on the right side, below the account number, which you’ll be familiar with if you know what a credit card is.

However, if the account number is printed on the back of the card, then that’s where you’ll most likely find the card’s expiration date.

Keep in mind that this number is separate from a CVV number on a credit card, which is usually a three- or four-digit number without a forward slash in it.

Recommended: How Many Credit Cards Should I Have?

What Happens After a Credit Card Expires

Once your card expires, it is no longer valid for new purchases. However, you should have already received a new card.

After you’ve activated your new card, there’s no reason to keep your old card, and you should destroy it; more on that in a moment. That’s because your old card still has your account number on it, which could help someone to make a fraudulent transaction with your account (though rest assured in this case there’s always the option to dispute a credit card charge).

What to Do When the New Card Arrives

Once you’ve received your new credit card with the updated expiration date, there’s no reason to continue to use your old card.

•   You can simply activate your new credit card, and replace your old one in your wallet or purse.

•   Your new credit card should have the same terms, including the credit card APR and credit limit.

•   Then, destroy your old card. You can destroy your plastic cards by cutting them up with scissors (it’s wise to cut the magnetic chip in half) or by using a shredding machine that’s designed for destroying plastic cards.

If you have a metal card, the card issuer will typically mail you a return envelope to send the card back for destruction.

However, if you haven’t received your new card and you notice your credit card expiration date is approaching, you should contact your card issuer before your old card expires. For example, if you’ve changed mailing addresses, your new card may have been sent to your previous residence. Or, your old card may have gotten lost in the mail. Either way, you’ll want your old card replaced before it expires so that you can continue making charges to it.

Don’t forget: Once you have your new card, you also may need to update any accounts for which you were using your old card for automatic billing every month or every year. This can include everything from streaming subscriptions to utilities. Doing so will ensure that your services remain uninterrupted when your old card does expire.

With your new card up and running, you’ll continue to make at least the credit card minimum payment as you’d been doing.

Recommended: Revolving Credit vs. Line of Credit: Key Differences

The Takeaway

Your credit card’s expiration date marks the last date it will still be valid for new purchases. You can find the expiration date on your credit card on either the front or the back of the card, and it will usually appear as a two-digit month followed by a two-digit year. You don’t usually have to worry about taking steps to get a new card when your old one is set to expire — the credit card issuer will usually mail you a card with a new expiration date beforehand. Understanding the expiration date can be an important part of using a credit card properly and easily.

Whether you're looking to build credit, apply for a new credit card, or save money with the cards you have, it's important to understand the options that are best for you. Learn more about credit cards by exploring this credit card guide.


Can I still use my credit card the month it expires?

Yes, your credit card will remain valid until the last day of the month it expires. It will no longer be valid on the first day of the following month.

Why do credit cards expire?

The credit card expiration date can serve as an additional security feature, as a way to replace worn magnetic stripes and computer chips in cards, and as an opportunity for card issuers to market new products and update their brand image.

Does your credit card automatically renew?

A credit card account isn’t attached to the credit card’s expiration date. The account usually renews every year regardless of whether the card itself expires. Card issuers also will automatically mail customers new cards within two months of their existing card’s expiration date.

Is it safe to give out your credit card number and expiry date?

For a merchant to accept credit card payments with your card not present, such as with a transaction online or over the phone, you’ll need to give your card’s number and expiration date, among other information. Otherwise, you should keep all of your credit card details private to avoid fraud and/or identity theft.

Do I have to pay off my credit card before it expires?

The expiration of your credit card is unrelated to your payments. You need to make at least the credit card minimum payment each month before your account’s due date. This date doesn’t correlate with your credit card’s expiration date.

Photo credit: iStock/mrgao

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.



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