18 Ideas To Reuse Expired Credit Cards

credit card by squeaky marmot

Photo by Mike Martin Wong

How many of you have expired credit cards that either sit in your drawers, or you have cut up and thrown in the trash? These plastic wonders that allows us to say “charge it” can sit in our landfills for a very long time. Is there another way to reuse them rather than throw them out?

I was faced with this very situation with two weeping credit cards that had passed their useful lives. They begged me not to shred them, and they knew their pleas would be heard. They of course were dealing with an old green softie like me.

I promised them that I would rack my brain to see if I could reuse them in some way. “Don’t give up hope,” I assured them. Unfortunately, my clever hat was on the fritz that day, and I turned to the internet to see what others were suggesting. Here is what I found:

1. Use your credit cards as an ice scraper. A little small but could do the trick if you don’t have a scraper available. I would imagine this would only work with a thin layer of frost.

2. Use your credit card to open your door if you accidentally lock yourself out. See WikiHow on how to do this. (via Lifehacker).

3. Use the corner of the credit card as a guitar pick if you can’t find your pick. See this article on The Plastic Spork Blog, The Internet’s Most Popular DIY Site For Plastic on how to make your own pick. (Who would imagine a DIY plastic site?)

4. Clean you nails with the edge of the credit card.

5. Use your credit card as a straight edge like a ruler.

(Tips #1-5 are from The Frugal Law Student)

6. Make your credit cards into a small planter. See the following tutorial on Instructables. (Via Jenny up the Hill) I wonder if you can use those magnetic cards you get from business for the back of the planter to secure it to a refrigerator?

7. Use the credit cards to scrape stuck food off your dishes. (Via Thrifty Fun.) One of the site’s readers suggested tips #8 though #10.

8. Use the credit cards to scrape gum off floors, or remove dried glue and hardened candies.

9. You can punch holes in the credit cards, and use them as large tags to identify your belongings such as luggage, briefcase, or kids’ coats. According to the commenter, you could sand the credit cards to make them paintable. I love this idea; however, does anyone have an idea how to degrade the numbers?

10. They are also good for scraping off wallpaper.

11. Use a credit card to scrape off old paint after you have applied a paint remover. Consider using a soy-based paint remover. (My suggestion after reading the wall paper suggestion.)

12. Give your expired cards to your children to use to play. However, scratch the numbers off for security purposes.

13. Use as a scraper to apply wood filler, spackle or grout.

14. Use the credit cards as a shoehorn.

15. Use them for making clay sculptures. You can use a credit card as a tool to smooth down a clay surface or cutting grooves in the sculpture to make a textured surface.

16. Use a credit card as a knife to cut food. (Wash it first…)

(Tips #12-16 are via the readers of How Can I Recycle This? See my article about this fabulous site.)

17. Use them to make a house of cards doll house. ( Via Connie Prater in her article on Taking Charge, a CreditCard.com blog) She concluded such a house “would be expensive real estate when you add up how much you spent on the credit cards.” How true.

Finally after reading about all of these suggestions, a light bulb went off in my head. Here is my suggestion:

feb 2008 032

18. Use them as either seedling or plant markers. I made two different markers. One I cut into a flag and put the name on the flag part with a marker. The second time, I just cut ¼” strips, which was more efficient than making the flags. I wasted less credit card material. I also wrote the name of the plant on the strip.

In both case, I cut a “v” at the bottom so that the marker would stay in my small seedlings balls. You can make the strips as big or small as you need. My seedling starters are very small. Since I basically grow the same vegetables year after year, I can reuse the markers.

Do you have any suggestions to add?

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  1. 7


    Ohhh… what a bright ideas… Hahhaha… I never think of that huh…

    Talking about Online Loan and credit cards, I think you should see this Payday Loans Online site, which offers all sorts of personal loans for your needs. It is a personal loan resources and financial services portal plus an online directory for financial products and services. Through OnlineLoanResources.com, Obtaining personal loans or financial services is as easy as 1 – 2 – 3.

  2. 13


    This is about the funniest and most bizarrely engaging post. I have definitely used the credit card as a door opener and will admit I am rather good at it. I think if you collect enough you can make a satirical sculpture of some sort. Like a money sign, or some such symbolic nonsense that Andy Warhol would have called art and sold. Sorry for the tangent. Great read. Veronica

    veronicaromm’s last blog post..A question for all faiths.

  3. 14

    Green Talk says

    Veronica, thanks for the compliment about the post. Readers, add a #19 to the list of what to do with your credit cards via Veronica’ suggestion. Make an art piece out of your credit cards!

    This whole post started because I could not conceive of throwing away my expired credit cards which I knew would lay in a landfill probably for hundreds of years. You know the saying “it ain’t easy being green,” Well in my case, it can be downright exhausting! Thanks for posting Veronica. Come back again to visit.

    Readers, take a look at Veronica’s website. She is a terrific writer! Anna

  4. 16

    Green Talk says

    Sounds adorable and probably really easy to make! Glad, you stopped by. I miss your helpful comments. Anna

  5. 22


    Very funny. This inspired me to really look into the environmental impact credit cards might be having. It was bigger than I thought. If you are interested I wrote an article detailing the damage they are doing and a possible solution. You can check it out here http://www.bankcardfinder.com/.....cards.html . Feel free to contact me at my email address above with comments.

    This is a great site, keep up the good work!

    Jon Norwood

  6. 25

    frances says

    When I get a promotional credit card in the mail with my name on it, I cut my name off and use a hole punch to create a name tag. I put this on my extra car keys and tuck one safely in my purse. When I have to drop my car off at the repair shop for have an oil change or tire purchase, I give the establishment my key with credit card tag identifier. I keep a zip lock of these identifiers in my kitchen drawer to tape on silverware when going to a food function, or tape on a lid or bowl, or as replacements for the keys when names get worn off.

    • 26


      Frances, you are woman after my own heart. How do you get the cards to stay on your silverware. I guess you hand wash that silverware? I have a thread going on Reader Recycle Tips. You sound amazingly crafty. If you have other ones to share, can you share here? Anna

      • 27

        frances says

        I wrap the tag with a piece of tape around the utensil or someplace on the lid or bowl.. IT is onlya temporary identifier so that I will get my serving pieces back. I’m talking about going to a party or church supper where I want to keep track of my items. The tag easily comes off for reuse. (and keep it in the zip lock in the kitchen drawer for next time!)

  7. 29

    frances says

    I take the thinner promotional credit cards and cut out the smooth spaces to create dog tags for the foster dogs that rehabilitate in our home. (*these are the ones that come in the mail and are glued to the advertisement) I use my label maker to personalize each dog’s information and then use package tape to make it all waterproof. Then I use my hole punch and voila, a custom made ID tag that cost me nothing. These are incredibly sturdy and I’ve had them last for months on one dog.

  8. 32

    myrna says

    Thank you for those ideas especially seedling , plant marker. Often time I bring one on my hotel stay to use it as card key to turn on the light upon entering the room. So the real hotel key stays intact in my bag or pocket. But I always take it out when going out of the hotel room.

  9. 34

    Kathleen Sherman says

    Be sure to scratch the back metallic strip, it still contains your personal information. I’m sure the identity thieves could “recycle” that info. Just a paper clip will do the trick.


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