How can I reuse or recycle … old plastic (credit) cards?

Credit cardsBecause of all the hoohah over identity fraud, we’re told that bank cards and credit cards need to be snipped up into a million pieces then strewn to the four corners of the earth, preferably into volcanoes and the like. But are there any green (yet still not fraud-risky) ways to recycle them instead?

And what about cards that don’t require such precautions? I have a whole wallet full of plastic credit-card-esque cards that have expired – like discount/reward cards, my old library card and the frequent flyer card from when I frequently flew.

Aside from breaking and entering locked warehouses in movies, anyone got any suggestions for reusing them?

(Photo by LotusHead)

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33 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle … old plastic (credit) cards?”

  1. Reto says:

    In winter I use my cards as emergency ice scraper on the windows of my car, but else … ?

  2. Matt says:

    They are excellent for applying filler to walls, wood, etc and for grouting tiled walls.

  3. James says:

    I’ve received a suggestion to use them as shims, especially for the promotional cards that don’t work for actual transactions.

  4. Lauren says:

    I saw someone make teeny little notebooks from them, and I’ve seen earrings made from shaped bits of credit card. I have a stash of old cards for just such crafts, but I guess I’m waiting to see if I can come up with something more clever. Can’t wait to see the other ideas here!

  5. In junior high I used to wear earrings made from old bank cards. But the tiny book idea is so much cuter!

  6. Diana says:

    I have seen old plastic bags melted together into placemats of mug mats, could credit cards be melted too?

  7. Amy says:

    I give them to my four-year old. She puts them in her play purse and uses them when she play “shops”.

    • Anonymous says:

      just becareful your children may put them in their mouth.. the chemical of the plastic could comes off.
      the bank card is made out of PVC plastic
      It is one of the worst plastic to absorb into our body.

  8. Alison says:

    I use an old card as a shoehorn.

  9. nancy says:

    I use them to clean kitchen counter tops
    of dried sticky spills

  10. Pietro says:

    Knives. Now that you cannot bring even a plastic knife on a plane, you still need something to cut food with. Last time I used a credit card to cut some cheese.

    NOTE: some people might want to wash it before…

  11. Cory says:

    I cut up my old credit cards and use the cut out pieces as guitar picks. You can get a half doezen picks out of one card, and they are durable too!

  12. Stephanie says:

    After scraching your number and detales of the card you can give them to children for playing shopping.

  13. chris says:

    I use them for making sculpture, smoothing down a clay surface or cutting groves in to make a textured surface.

  14. caro says:

    I cut the logo off and Barbie has a Visa :-)

  15. sfcupatea says:

    hmm.. gives me good ideas.. if you have a ton, cut them into similar shapes and use for poker chips???

  16. Vicky says:

    You won’t believe this but credit cards are great for using to use like tiles for a mosaic. I actually saw a pool that the owner had used thousands of old credit and debbit cards to tile it. You may want to stick with trivets.

  17. sara says:

    This sounds strange, but i use mine for smoothing down strips while body waxing. If you end up throwing out, maybe cut them in half first?

  18. Just A. Comment says:

    but how about a solution/suggestion that is really recycling and getting the plastic back into the stream. all these suggestions, while some are interesting, are merely repurposing and the plastic will still ultimately end up in the landfill.

    • louisa says:

      Reusing is generally considered better for the environment than recycling – recycling is often surprisingly resource intensive and when you reuse something for another purpose, you’re often reducing what you need to buy new: eg, the person using their old credit card as a shoehorn doesn’t need a shoehorn now.

      Plus, if the plastic *can* be recycle (and some can’t be), there is nothing to say it has to go to landfill at the end of their reuse. That credit card shoehorn, credit card poker chips, a counter top scraper – all of those things could be just as easily recycled after being used for the second purpose for a couple of years as they could as soon as the card expires.

  19. Andy Walker says:

    Oh Louisa… we meet again ;-) xx

  20. Lizzy says:

    cut little slots and make a comb?

  21. Karen says:

    Shred and add to plastic town recycling. Having someone steal your information is a nightmare. Expired cards still contain your data (name, account info, etc) Just because you can’t use it at the store, doesn’t mean a hacker can’t retrieve your information from the strip on the back.

    • max s says:

      Run a magnet over the metalic strip at the back. A rare earth magnet (from inside an old computer hard drive) is pretty strong.

  22. Zoe V. says:

    There is a much better way to dispose credit cards than cutting them up and throwing in the trash. They are made of PVC, a toxic plastic that is not recyclable or biodegradable. A much more environment-friendly option is to donate useless plastic cards to EarthWorks Earthworks exclusive proprietary process uses 100% recycled PVC to create durable stock in a variety of sizes, widths, and colors. The recycled material is 100% American made and indistinguishable from conventional plastic in both reliability and functionality.

    For more information, read my blog “Wait! Don’t cut up that credit card!”

  23. Bobbie says:

    I use old cards when cleaning pots and pans as a scraper to get hard, dry food off. You would be amazed at how well it works. No more soaking for hours.

  24. cards says:

    recycling of plastic cards

  25. Nastia says:

    Spread the glue or caulking and such.

  26. Rachel says:

    I had a Waterstone book token plastic card. I have now made this into three book marks… the type that attach over the page. It looks good as the front has pictures of book covers.

  27. diego says:

    I saw this post on 8 cool ways to reuse credit cards. My favorite is using them to organize electronics cables:

  28. ruth says:

    Cut the four corners flat from at different sizes. discard the cut corner and use the credit card to wipe off excess caulkin when redoing your plumbing. They sell a little square tool for over $20 bux specifically for cleaning excess caulk, but why buy when you can make your own?

  29. Alexis says:

    You can send them to me! I actually upcycle them into great jewelry! Please jump on over to my online shop – to see some of my work. You can also see my latest creations (I’m ramping up for a big artshow soon) at . All of my cards are used, even if I covet one on the shelf, I just wait until someone gives me a used one. The parts that I don’t use, I take to my closest Starbucks & they dump it all into the box that they are sending to be recycled. The best part is that all of my profits go to the nonprofit – we are going to purchase & revitalize a beautiful property in the Ozarks into a year-round facility in a sustainable, earth-friendly way.

    Earthworks is a great recycling company as stated in another comment article. I have sent them there before. But, now that I have teamed up with this Starbucks, I don’t have to spend $$ on shipping. They send theirs to a recycling company in Michigan. This is good news to my ears, because this means there are more recyclers in the USA! Yay!

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