When Do Credit Cards Expire?

Alexandra Leslie • June 26, 2015

Whenever you receive a new credit card, you will notice your card has an expiration date on it. While credit card expiration can be a headache, it also helps protect you.

Read on to learn more about why and when credit card expire.

Why do credit cards expire?

One reason credit cards have an expiration date is because plastic isn’t terribly strong and the cards undergo wear and tear over the years. After several years of using your credit card on a regular basis, the magnetic stripe may not work regularly and the card may start to crack.

According to Bankrate, the other key reason credit cards expire is to prevent fraud. Requiring expiration keeps the same combination of credit card number, expiration number and CVV number (the number on the back of the card) active for only a finite amount of time.

Additionally, Investopedia says having cards expire gives the issuer a chance to re-evaluate his or her credit and potentially update the terms when given a new card. For this reason, they recommend checking your terms closely when the new card arrives to see if there have been any changes in rules, APR or fees.

When do credit cards expire?

Credit cards always expire within several years of issuance. Seth Eisen, a spokesman for Visa USA, told Bankrate the actual expiration date is up to the issuer. However, he said the average is approximately three years.

What happens when they expire?

When your expiration date is nearing, your issuer will usually send you a letter or email notifying you your card will soon expire and a replacement card will be on the way within a few weeks. Sometimes an issuer will ask if you would like the card to renew, but most often it will automatically renew.

When the new card arrives, simply activate it and cut up the old card.

What to watch out for:

Your new card will come in an envelope without your bank name or logo on it to prevent theft. If you know your new card is on the way soon, be aware it will come in an unassuming white envelope, and make sure you or someone else in your household doesn’t accidentally throw it away as potential junk mail.

Also, since this new card will have a different expiration date, you will need to update all of your payment information on recurring automatic payments, such as Netflix or your cell phone bill.

Additionally, the next time you make manual payments online, make sure they don’t automatically use the last card on file. You will need to manually add the new card or adjust the expiration date.

Before you go, be sure to check out our excellent selection of credit cards.

Photo source: creditcardchaser.com

Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

About the Author

Alexandra Leslie

Since receiving Bachelor's degrees in Political Science and Psychology, Alexandra enjoys studying socioeconomic factors in business, behavior and politics. When she isn't gathering intel on the latest trends and experts in business and finance, you can find her at the gym, searching for gluten-free goodies on Pinterest or enjoying a night out with friends.