Knowing exactly when your credit card expires can save you from the potential embarrassment of having it declined when you attempt to make a purchase and ensure you receive a replacement with plenty of time to spare. While dates printed on cards do not specify a particular day, the rules are the same regardless of which financial institution issues the credit card.

Expiration

Credit card expiration dates printed on cards usually consist of a month and year only. In such cases, the cards remain valid until the last calendar day of that month. If, for example, an expiration date reads 06/15, this means it can be used until midnight on June 30, 2015. If you attempt to use the card after this time, it will be declined.

Purpose

Expiration dates add another layer of fraud protection for online transactions as you will normally be asked for these details before a merchant can authorize a payment. Dates are also needed to ensure cards are replaced before their magnetic strips and embossed numbers become too worn out. A credit card typically expires three years from the date it was issued.

Replacement

Your bank or credit card company will automatically send a new card up to 60 days before your current card expires. Depending on the policies of your card issuer, you may need to activate your new card before you can begin using it. Once you start to use your new card, the old one will no longer work, even if it has not yet reached its expiration date. If your card is due to expire in a few weeks and you have not received a replacement, contact the card issuer.

Disposal

To ensure your personal financial information does not fall into the wrong hands, you should destroy your expired credit cards carefully. Cut lengthwise through the embossed digits and then make vertical cuts to separate the individual numbers. Ideally, throw the pieces away separately so there is no chance the card can ever be reassembled.