My Debit Card Expired! What Do I Do?

By Ashley Kilroy · October 18, 2023 · 8 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. Read more We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right. Read less

My Debit Card Expired! What Do I Do?

If your debit card expired, it can no longer make purchases or payments whatsoever. You’ll need to request a new card from your bank if they haven’t already sent you a new one. Once you have that card, you’ll need to activate it and shred your old one for security reasons.

Your debit card can be a vital player in your ongoing financial life. It’s your primary link to your bank account. It allows you to pay for items at stores, restaurants, and online businesses. In addition, debit cards are quicker than checks and don’t accrue interest charges like credit cards do.

As a result, staying ahead of your debit card’s expiration date is critical to uninterrupted use. Here’s a closer look at this process, including:

•   Why debit cards expire

•   What happens when a debit card expires

•   How to renew a debit card

•   Tips for using a debit card well

What Happens if My Debit Card Expires?

You might not realize that your debit card expired until you try — and fail — to use it. However, it’s best to stay on top of that critical date. Otherwise, if your card expires, the following can occur:

•   You can’t make purchases with an expired debit card.

•   Automatic payments linked to your debit card, such as subscriptions or utilities, will stop.

•   You’ll have to contact your bank about getting a new debit card if they haven’t already sent it.

•   You’ll have to use alternative payment methods until you get a new card.

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Replacing an Expired Debit Card

What to do when your debit card expires? Generally, your bank will send you an updated debit card in the mail a month before yours expires. However, if that hasn’t happened, keep these steps in mind:

•   If you don’t receive one as the expiration date draws closer, it’s best to follow up with your bank about getting a new card. You can usually call your bank or log into your account online and ask for a new card. This can often take a week or so; perhaps less time if you pay a fee for expedited delivery.

•   When you receive your new debit card, you can activate it by following the directions on the card. Typically, you can use the website or call the phone number on the activation sticker. You can also likely activate it by inserting it into an ATM (hopefully in-network, to avoid incurring ATM fees), entering your PIN, and withdrawing cash. The process may be somewhat different depending on your financial institution’s policies.

•   Once you’re sure your new card works, it’s best to shred your old card. Throwing away an intact card invites the possibility of identity theft or bank fraud. To augment your security measures, you can discard portions of the shredded cards in different trash containers or throw away several bits at a time.

•   Lastly, think about where you automatically use your debit card online. It’s vital to update your payment information where you linked your old debit card. For any bills you linked your debit card to (like your phone or electricity bill), log into your account and update your payment information.

   The reason: Once your debit card expires, you won’t be able to make payments, and you could fall behind on your bills, which is exactly what you don’t want to happen when you automate your finances.

How Long Do Debit Cards Usually Last Before They Expire?

A debit card usually lasts two to five years from the date your bank issues it. You can use your debit card until the first day of the month after expiration. For example, if your card’s expiration date is January 2024, then your card will work through January 31, 2024. Then, on February 1, your card will become inactive.

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Why Do Debit Cards Have an Expiration Date?

It might seem inconvenient when your debit card expires, but banks require a debit card renewal for practical reasons. Consider the following:

•   The change of expiration date and security code combats fraud. In other words, the new card’s information helps prevent criminals from successfully hacking into your funds, thereby keeping your bank account safe online.

•   Debit cards can get worn out with use. For example, the stripe or magnetic chip can become defective after several years. Or, the card might suffer scratches or begin to peel. Therefore, getting a new card preempts these scenarios.

•   Card technology improves regularly. For instance, cards have gone from swiping to insertion and tap-to-pay in the last decade. As a result, getting a new card can allow you to take advantage of tech advances that increase convenience and security.

Will Transactions Go Through if My Debit Card Is Expired?

An expired card cannot make transactions or payments. Period. So, it’s crucial to get that debit card renewal before your current one expires.

Remember, an expired card doesn’t mean your bank account is frozen, empty, or deactivated. You can still make ACH payments if your card is expired — but an expired card can’t transact payment or let you use an ATM.

Do I Have Debit Card Access Even After It Expires?

The primary issue with an expired debit card is you can’t use it to pay in any context. However, you can access your bank account if your debit card expires, pay by ACH, and use mobile banking features. In addition, your bank account will still be active.

Tips for Using Your Debit Card Wisely

Your debit card is an essential financial tool that enables purchases, provides rewards, and more. In that way, it can contribute to your sense of financial security. Follow these tips to make the most out of your debit card:

•   Memorize your PIN instead of storing it on your computer or other device. That way, no one can steal it and gain access to your account. And please: Don’t write it on the back of your debit card either.

•   Don’t use an obvious PIN that anyone could easily guess, such as your birth year or 1234.

•   Shred and then throw away all expired cards.

•   Stay up to date on your account balance, so you don’t overdraft your account.

•   Use cash instead of your card if the merchant charges a card usage fee. (Some retailers require a minimum purchase of $5 or more to prevent the card fee.)

•   If your debit card provides points or cashback rewards, use it as much as possible without overspending. Also, keep in mind whether your card might have a daily spending or withdrawal limit, restricting card usage.

•   Check account statements monthly, and let your bank know about any unfamiliar transactions, as they could be a sign of fraud.

•   Be aware of transaction fees, when they will be charged, and whether the fee varies, depending on where you use your debit card.

Lastly, notify your bank immediately if you lose your debit card, so you aren’t financially responsible for fraudulent charges. Here’s how this works:

•   When you report your card stolen within two days, there is a $50 cap on the fraudulent charges you must pay for.

•   When you report within 60 days, a $500 cap applies to fraudulent charges you’re responsible for.

•   You’re financially responsible for all fraudulent charges if you don’t report your card stolen within a 60-day window.

Quickly reporting the loss will help you avoid financial responsibility for extra charges that aren’t yours.

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The Takeaway

A debit card that’s expired can threaten to derail your financial life for a period of time, inconveniencing you as you try to pay for transactions and access cash. Being suddenly unable to use your card for purchases is frustrating and can even cause you to miss payments on crucial bills. Therefore, proactively communicating with your bank about a card that will expire soon can save you a headache.

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Do I need to reach out to a bank if my card expires?

Reaching out to your bank if your card expires allows you to obtain a replacement debit card as soon as possible. Although banks usually send your new card ahead of time, it’s possible the card went to the wrong address or was never sent. Calling your bank or chatting with a bank representative online if your card expires can help minimize the waiting period for a new card.

Do the debit card numbers stay the same after they expire?

When your debit card expires, you’ll receive a replacement card with a new expiration date and security code. These numbers change to improve the security of your bank account.

What should I do with my old debit card?

You should shred or otherwise cut up your old debit card after you receive and activate the new one. Throwing away an intact card without shredding it means someone could easily steal your financial information.

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