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Published June 30, 2023

Understanding your credit card’s expiration date

A credit card expiration date shows when the card is no longer valid. There are things you should consider to avoid interruptions or fees when your credit card expires.

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Don’t be caught off guard by your credit card’s expiration date. Understanding the purpose and implications of credit card expiration dates can help you manage your finances better. 

What is a credit card expiration date? 

A credit card expiration date, also called an ‘expiry’, shows when a credit card is no longer valid. 

The expiry is printed on the card, usually alongside the credit card number and CVV code. All banks follow a four-digit MM/YY format for expiry dates, where ‘MM’ is the month and ‘YY’ is the year. For example, a credit card expiring in May 2026 would show ‘05/26’. 

Credit cards generally expire at the end of the month listed in the expiry. So, if the card expires in May, you can use it until May 31, then switch to your new one on June 1. 

When do credit cards expire?

Credit cards usually expire after 3 to 5 years. Over this period, cards naturally age with use, and technology develops, such as the ability to make transactions by just tapping the card. Replacing the credit card with one that has enhanced technological innovations helps keep your finances secure. 

Why do credit cards have an expiration date?

Expiration dates benefit you as the cardholder, both practically and securely.

Credit cards expire to ensure security and prevent fraud. Expiration dates safeguard against fraud and help verify the identity of the cardholder. They are one of several security protections built into the design of credit cards to keep consumers safe. 

Others include: 

You must provide the expiration date before making an online purchase. If, for any reason, someone knows your credit card number, transactions will only go through with the expiration date, CVV and billing address. 

Expiration dates also allow credit card companies to update their cards with enhanced security features and new technology. 

What happens when a credit card expires?

When your card expires, you won’t be able to use it to make new purchases. Your credit card account, however, will remain active, so you can replace the expired card with a new one.

Before your current card expires, your bank will send a replacement so your new card is ready to go once you activate it.

The new card will have the same credit card number and an updated expiration date. Your PIN will also stay the same, but use the opportunity to update it for added security. Aim to change your PIN every 6-12 months. 

» MORE: How to apply for a credit card so you’ll get approved

What to do before your credit card expires 

It is important to keep track of your credit card expiration dates to avoid accidentally using an expired card. There are some things to consider to avoid interruptions or incurring fees when your credit card expires. 

Plan ahead

Set up a reminder on your phone or calendar to help you prepare for when your card is due to expire. 

Check your automatic payments 

Go through your credit card statement for the past three months and note all the recurring and automatic payments. Update your new credit card details with each provider because the old card will stop working once it expires.

Make a list of each provider and when the next payment date falls. You should be able to easily log into the customer dashboard for each provider and update the payment details. Check your email regularly during this period, as these providers will reach out to you if you miss a payment. 

Update your Apple Pay 

Remember to update your details if you loaded your credit card in a digital wallet such as Apple Pay, Google Pay or Samsung Pay. You will have the same credit card number, so you just need to update the new expiration date, which shouldn’t take long.

If you use your mobile to make everyday payments and you’re still waiting on your replacement card, call your bank and ask for the new expiration date. You can update it in your digital wallet before the physical card arrives. 

» MORE: What is a virtual credit card?

Activate the new card 

Activate your new card when it arrives to ensure it’s ready to use before you dispose of the expired one.

Your bank will provide activation steps in a letter enclosed with the card. There will likely be a few options — through the app, online banking or by calling. The quickest way to activate a new credit card is through online banking. 

While logged in, find the ‘Activate Card’ prompt, enter the card number and new expiration date, and you’re ready to use it.

Follow the activation prompts for major banks: 

  1. Westpac
  2. CommBank 
  3. NAB 
  4. ANZ 
  5. AMEX
  6. Citi
  7. Macquarie Bank
  8. HSBC 
  9. Bankwest
  10. Suncorp 

If you need help finding your specific bank, a quick Google search of ‘activate card’ followed by the bank name will bring up the link. Call your bank directly if you’d prefer to activate your new card over the phone. 

Once you’ve received confirmation that your new card is active, the old one is void. 

One thing left to do after your card expires

Cut it up! Once your new card is active, the old one is irrelevant. While you can’t use it after it has expired, it’s essential to dispose of it properly. You don’t want anyone getting their hands on your stolen credit card information. 

Grab the scissors and cut your old card into pieces. Cut horizontally along the name, credit card number, expiration date, CVV/CVC and microchip. Just make sure to distinguish your old card from your new one. 

» MORE: How to cancel a credit card

Frequently asked questions about credit card expiration dates

Does my card expire at the beginning or end of the month?

Credit card expiration dates are printed in MM/YY format, so knowing exactly when the card expires can be confusing. But, generally, the card is valid until the end of the month.

How long does a credit card last before it expires?

A credit card typically lasts for 3 to 5 years before it expires.

How do you find the expiration date on a credit card?

Credit card expiration dates are generally on the same side as the card number.


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