Do Credit Cards Expire on the First or Last Day of the Month?

Do Credit Cards Expire on the First or Last Day of the Month?

March 24, 2020         Written By Lynn Oldshue

Almost every credit card expires at some point. The expiration date is often printed or embossed on the front of the card, but some companies place it on the back.

Every bank has its own system when it comes to expiration dates. Most reissue cards every three years. However, the security of EMV chips has some companies expanding expiration dates past the three-year average.

Expiration dates are usually listed in a month/year format. What it doesn’t show is the exact day a credit card expires. It leaves us to question: do credit cards expire on the first or last day of the month? How can you tell?

How to Read Credit Card Expiration Dates

Most credit cards have a four-digit expiration date. It’s composed of the two-digit code for the month and the last two digits of the year. For example, a credit card that shows “good thru” or “valid thru” 03/24 means the card is good throughout March 2024. March is the third month of the year and 24 is the last two digits of the year. 

Some banks will use the full four-digit year. If that’s the case, 03/2024 is the third month (March) of 2024. 

That expiration date typically means the card expires at midnight at the end of that month on a specified day. You should be able to use your card right up to 11:59 p.m. without running into problems.

Certain Cards Have a Specific Expiration Date

It’s not as common, but you may find cards with a specific expiration date. These include the two-digit month code, the two-digit day code, and the two- or four-digit year code. If this is the case, 03/15/2024 means the card expires at midnight on the 15th of March, 2024.

Others Have No Expiration Date at All

Store credit cards may not have an expiration date listed on the card or at all. Don’t confuse the date shown under “Member Since” as the expiration date. This is the year or month and year that you applied for and were approved to receive the store card. For instance, the Home Depot Consumer card does not give an expiration date. A number of other stores follow that same policy. 

The reasoning behind this is that consumers do not use store cards as often as they do traditional credit cards. When the cards do not get used often, wear and tear decreases. The strips and chips last longer, which makes the card unlikely to stop working and need replacement within a few years. If you have a store card be sure to check your cards issuing bank to see whether there is an expiration date for your specific card.

Why Do Cards Have Expiration Dates?

Credit card expiration dates exist for several reasons. Let’s take a closer look at them.

1. Wear and Tear

Issuers know that cards wear out over time from normal use of the card. Each time you pull a card from your wallet and put it back, the abrasive action rubs at the magnetic strip or chip. The card may crack over time when it’s subjected to being slightly bent when in a pocket all day. Most cards are worn and need replacing after a few years. By having the card expire, it’s automatically replaced for you. You’re not stuck waiting days or weeks with a card you cannot use while you wait for your replacement card.

2. Marketing

Banks alter their designs over time to stay current in a changing market. New designs can also help with fraud prevention as banks implement new features like EMV chips. As new logos roll out, they are incorporated into card designs, too. Consumers like to have the latest, and a new card design allows banks to let consumers pick designs that suit their needs.

3. Credit Evaluation

Some credit card companies may take the opportunity to look at a consumer’s credit rating before issuing a new card. A consumer may qualify for a higher credit limit or be better served by a card with specific rewards. These credit reviews can lead to you getting a card that offers a lower interest rate or enhanced rewards.

4. Theft Prevention

Expiration dates are also there to protect you from credit card fraud. If your card number is stolen, a thief also needs the correct expiration date and CVV code to use it. Without that information, the charge gets denied. A thief may try to guess the correct expiration date or code, but multiple attempts with incorrect information are going to flag a security alert.

At this point, the bank calls, emails, or texts you to see if the charge is valid. Based on the information you provide, the attempted charges may be flagged as fraudulent. If so, your account is closed and moved to a new card number. The bank issues and mails a new card to you. The time it takes varies from issuer to issuer. For example, Chase says it takes anywhere from three to five business days; American Express offers free next-day card replacements.

In addition to a new account number, your new card also has a new EMV chip and CVV code. Fraudulent charges used on your old account are denied. You should continue checking your statements for charges you did not make and alert the credit card company if you see anything suspicious.

How Do You Avoid Using an Expired Card?

We know how embarrassing it is to learn your charge is denied and if you don’t have a backup card or cash you could be forced to walk away from your purchase. With a few preventative steps, you can avoid denials caused by an expired card.

At the end of each month look at the cards in your purse or wallet and see when they expire. If any do expire in the next month, set a reminder on your calendar to keep an eye out for the new card to arrive in the mail. Many banks also send an email or put a note in your online account to let you know when the card is mailed. Be proactive when it comes to checking your mail. Mail theft is one of the ways cards get stolen and need to be replaced.

If it’s close to the expiration date and you haven’t received your card, you may want to call and ask the Issuer if it has been mailed. It could be the replacement card was lost in the mail, damaged by USPS machines, or stolen from your mailbox. If the bank feels the card should have arrived, another replacement card will likely be issued at that time. If this happens and your card expires within a few days, ask if there is an expedited option to get your card faster. Be aware that there may be a cost associated with expediting a new card, but don’t be afraid to ask. 

Before making a purchase, check the card’s expiration date. Even with the best of intentions, you may have forgotten to swap cards when the new one arrived. If you catch the expired card before making a purchase, you’ll save yourself some embarrassment. You can ask a store to hold your purchase while you go home to swap cards. You can also use a different card and take care of the expired credit card when you return home.

What If You Need a New Credit Card Before the Expiration?

What do you do if you lose or damage your card before the expiration date? Call your bank and request a new card. You’ll find the customer support number on the back of your card. Or, enroll in online banking with your credit card company and make the request online in minutes using the bank’s online form for lost, stolen, or cards that never arrived. If you’re already enrolled with online banking, log in and fill out the form. It’s usually located under “Help and Support.”

It’s rare to be charged for a replacement card. EMV chips and magnetic strips may stop working. Cards may crack or become misplaced on a busy day. Banks understand that things happen and issue thousands of replacements each month. Many offer free replacements, though excessive requests may lead to questions.

Don’t forget to switch any automatic payments to your new card. If you forget, your payments on the old card will be denied. This could lead to canceled services as well as late or missed payments which could negatively impact your credit score. Keep a list of automatic payments and the cards you use for each of them to ensure you don’t inadvertently forget a recurring charge.

It’s hard to give a specific answer to “do credit cards expire on the first or last day of the month” as every bank has its own rules and policies. Pay attention to your card and see what the credit card expiration date shows. If you can’t find it, don’t assume there isn’t one. Call or email your company and ask if you’re not certain about the expiration date of your card.

The information contained within this article was accurate as of March 24, 2020. For up-to-date information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website. Many of the offers on this article are from our affiliate partners, and may be compensated if you take action with any of our affiliate partners.


About Lynn Oldshue

Lynn Oldshue has written personal finance stories for for twelve years. She majored in public relations at Mississippi State University.
View all posts by Lynn Oldshue
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