Metal credit cards are quickly becoming a global novelty.
Of the four billion credit cards in circulation worldwide, it’s estimated that 32 million of them are made from metal. Once exclusive to the world’s elite, metal credit cards are growing in popularity among business people, travelers, and social influencers. The Nilson Report, a trade publication, estimates that by the end of 2021, there will be nearly 150 million metal credit card owners worldwide.
With so many metal credit cards in use, there comes the problem of how to dispose of them properly. Metal credit cards can be mailed back to their issuer, dropped off at a local bank branch, or cut up with tin snips after expiry. If you’re looking for the best way to dispose of your metal credit card, we show you how below.
What is a metal credit card?
Metal credit cards have been gaining popularity among credit card enthusiasts in recent years. They perform the same function as regular plastic credit cards but are made from metal and thus give off a more luxurious feel.
The first metal credit card to be issued was the invite-only Centurion Card, known informally as the Amex Black Card, released by American Express in 1999. With a $10,000 initiation fee and $5,000 annual fee, the Amex Black Card remains one of the most exclusive and sought-after metal credit cards.
Today, more than 20 metal credit cards are available to the public, from Chase Bank’s Sapphire Reserve® card to the Apple Card. They’re usually made from brass, copper, stainless steel, or a blend of plastic and metal, although higher-end cards may be made from titanium or palladium. For wealthy clients, some banks may even offer metal credit cards made from gold.
Each card offers different travel and cashback rewards but nearly all of them give cardholders a higher credit limit than their regular plastic credit card accounts. Metal credit cards also sport more minimalist designs compared to their traditional plastic counterparts. Most have almost no writing or numbers on their fronts.
Why are metal credit cards so popular?
Metal credit cards have become the newest status symbol, alongside luxury handbags and high-end smartphones. They’re shinier, heavier, and flashier than plastic credit cards, and allow their owners to make big spending purchases on them.
In recent years, credit card companies have even begun issuing ultra-exclusive credit cards with gold trimmings and embedded diamonds to impress their most profitable customers.
The luxurious appeal of metal credit cards has no doubt played a big role in increasing customer demand for them. Credit card companies are expanding their metal credit card offerings to attract and retain high-spending customers. Their goal is simple: the more special customers feel when using their metal credit cards, the more they’ll probably use them in public.
By encouraging spending using metal credit cards, banks effectively drive up their popularity. It also helps that metal credit cards feature prominently in popular culture, from Kanye West songs to the HBO series, Entourage.
Perks of metal credit cards
Metal credit cards come with higher-than-usual benefits and rewards compared to regular credit cards. For the high annual fees customers pay – about $500 per year – you can receive hundreds of travel bonuses, from airport lounge access to elite passenger status, in addition to multiplier rewards points.
These perks benefit customers who travel a lot as they can accumulate quickly over time. Some metal credit card issuers give customers 50,000 points or more for making thousand-dollar purchases within 6 months of opening their accounts. Others offer multiplier rewards points when dining at certain restaurants and traveling on designated airlines.
Customers that hold metal credit cards may also receive priority service at hotels and airline lounges. The Platinum Card® from American Express, for example, automatically grants cardholders Gold Elite status with the Marriot Bonvoy program. Customers are also given credits to use with ride-sharing apps and TSA precheck services.
These perks are worth it as long as you get the opportunity to use them regularly. Metal credit cards tend to be on par with premium or elite credit cards when it comes to high interest rates and fees. You’ll probably want to keep your credit card balance to a minimum to avoid paying hefty amounts each month.
How to dispose of your metal credit card?
At some point, your metal credit card will expire and you’ll need to throw it away. Proper disposal helps prevent your credit card account from falling into the hands of identity thieves and fraudsters. Here are four ways to dispose of your metal credit card properly.
Mail it back to the issuer
Unlike plastic credit cards, metal credit cards can’t just be cut up with scissors or put into a shredder. Fortunately, several metal credit card issuers accept expired or canceled cards via mail to make your life easy. You should have received a prepaid envelope when opening your account; it was given to you so you could send your card back to the bank for proper disposal.
If you didn’t receive one or can no longer find it, you can simply call the customer service number on the back of your card to request one. The bank should mail it to you in a few business days. Just put your card in the prepaid envelope, seal it, and drop it in a mailbox.
Some credit card issuers, such as American Express and Chase, pledge to properly recycle expired metal credit cards.
Hand it off at your local bank branch
Alternatively, if your card issuer has a physical branch, you could take your card into the branch and ask a representative to dispose of it for you. Some issuers, such as Chase, accept old credit cards but others may not so it’s best to call ahead first to check.
Even if your local branch can’t help dispose of your card for you, they’ll probably be able to offer the right guidance to you. They may also be able to give you a prepaid envelope that you can use to send your expired metal credit card to their head office.
Use tin snips
For those who prefer to dispose of their metal credit cards at home, you can use tin snips or electric shears to cut your card into strips. These tools will cut through the average metal credit card, weighing at about 15g, with little to no effort. Make sure to wear gloves and protective goggles to protect yourself from sharp edges.
Paper shredders are unlikely to work as the shredding gears are too dull and small to cut through metal. They can cut through regular plastic credit cards but will probably just bend and scratch metal credit cards.
Stow it away in a safe location
You can also just store your metal credit card in a drawer or a box for safekeeping. This allows you to access your card in case you need to refer to it again in the future. Choose a safe and relatively inaccessible location so no one else but you can retrieve the card.
If a thief gets ahold of your expired credit card, they can make purchases using your name, credit card number, and a guess of your new card’s expiry date. Credit card fraud is a form of identity theft that can damage your credit score and lead to unwanted losses.
What to do if you are also canceling your credit card account?
People dispose of their metal credit cards for several reasons. Perhaps they’ve recently had their credit card information stolen and are waiting to receive a new card. Or they’re closing their credit card account to move to another bank.
If you’re in the latter situation, make sure to clear any issues with your credit card account before disposing of your card. It’s important to not leave any balances unpaid as that can hurt your credit score. Pay off any outstanding balance in full and double-check with your bank to make sure that this appears in their records.
Also, use or transfer any credit card rewards you have accumulated. Redeem any cash back or points as soon as possible. Once your credit card account has been closed, you will lose access to them.
And perhaps most importantly, close or transfer any subscriptions or automatic payments to your new account. Recurring charges that go unpaid because you’ve closed your credit card account could lead service providers to report your late or unpaid payments to the credit bureaus. This can potentially be damaging to your credit score.
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