6 Ways to Recycle Old Credit Cards

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For those who are consciously aware of the importance in properly discarding personal information, you may be wondering how to get rid of your old credit card. Maybe you canceled the card because you weren’t impressed with the customer service or they were charging 1,000% APR on your purchases and you’ve just had enough. You could attempt to shred it, but you might break the office paper shredder. You could do what I do, cut them up into a few smaller pieces after I’m positive the account and account numbers are no longer active. OR you can get crafty!

In the world of Do It Yourself (DIY)Everything, of course there are creative ways to get rid of your old credit cards. Keep in mind you can also use store credit cards, gift cards, debit cards, hotel key cards, rewards program cards, and even those little keychain reward things you scan to earn rewards for purchases at grocery stores and other locations. Most of these can be completed with household items already lying around the house like a hole punch, scissors, hot glue gun, permanent markers, and old cards. Let’s take a look at my favorite “what the heck do I do with this card now,” solutions.

6 Crafty Ideas

Guitar Pic –For those of you who play the guitar or know someone who does, a guitar pic is the perfect gift to give and you can do it for free! You can use any old credit card and either attempt to cut it yourself by tracing the shape of a pic on your card, or you can purchase a special hole punch. The quality of plastic is perfect for a pic because it’s durable. This project shouldn’t cost more than $25 depending on whether or not you purchase a guitar pic hole punch or not.

Make Jewelry –These projects are perfect for crafty ladies or even crafty children! For the following projects you will need a hole punch if you don’t want to go the ol’ nail and hammer route. A standard hole punch may do the trick, but there are some specialty hole punch mechanisms made for hard plastic. If cost isn’t an issue, this hole-punch is a good item –just make sure you buy the smallest one available.Additionally, I would highly suggest making these projects with very colorful credit cards. You may also be interested in buying an eyelet punch setter, too.

  • Earrings –For the crafty ladies, you can turn your old credit cards into unique earrings. One DIY tutorial suggests cutting the card into uneven strips, punching a hole in it with a nail and hammer and then place them on jewelry wire or old earrings after you remove the dangly part. This project shouldn’t cost more than $3 for the wire.
  • Bracelet –This project will be a little more time consuming than making earrings because a lot more cuts will be required and buying the bracelet with the hooks will cost a little more, too. This project can be completed with a small hole punch and a good pair of scissors. Here’s a great DIY idea for young children that’s sure to keep them entertained. Give them your old cards and let their imagination run.
  • Ring –This will be the most challenging and time consuming of all the projects listed here, and probably the most expensive depending if you have access to certain tools. With that being said, this project is actually really cool and I doubt anyone would believe you if you told them your ring was made from refurbished credit cards. This project calls for super glue, scissors, 2 non-raised cards, safety glasses, face mask, hobby knife, files, and sandpaper at minimum. You may find that a rotary tool with a carving and sanding bit will save you a lot of time and frustration. This project has a lot of steps, so I’m just going to point out some important factors:
  1. Protect your fingers! You don’t want to glue them together or to anything else.
  2. Gift cards are often made with PVC, which releases chemicals when melted. This step is where the goggles and mask come into play. You will want to complete the 6th step in a well-ventilated area or outdoors
  3. Always shape and file with the grain, not against it.

Small Cord Holder–Tired of your small cords getting tangled up? Apple products seem to have the smallest cords so I’m sure I’m not the only one who gets frustrated. You can try to put your headphones back in that case they came in, but it’s incredibly frustrating trying to get it to close again (There’s even a YouTube video on it). This project is so easy, I might do it tonight so I’ll no longer have loose cords in my purse. The cost for this project should be free, unless you need a craft knife or x acto blade.

Refurbished ID Cards- Creating a unique ID tag will personalize your items and make them stand out. All three projects will require something a little different, so the cost for each will vary. All of these will require a standard credit card-sized plastic instead of those keychain reward tag

  • Gift Tag –I’m not talking ID cards for work or anything like that -I mean ID cards used to tag an item like on a gift basket or as a garden labeler. Did you know spray paint is now available in chalk board?!? Crazy, I know! For gift tags, punch a hole in the card before you spray paint it. Let the first side dry before you flip it over to do the next side. Once dry, write your short message in chalk and your gift is ready to go! This should only cost about $4 for the paint and chalk. What’s also great about this idea is since you used chalk, you can erase the message post-use and reuse again.
  • Plant Tag –For this project you will need wooden skewers, a hot glue gun, spray paint, and a permanent marker or chalk. You can use the same chalk board spray paint and chalk like the gift tag project, but only if you are labeling plants that are indoors otherwise the rain will wash away the chalk. For a more permanent ID tag, use black spray paint and a white, silver, or bright colored paint marker that won’t fade away. For those planning on using chalk and chalk board paint, the total cost should be about $6 (about $3 for paint, $1 for chalk and about $2 for a pack of 100 wooden skewers). For those interested in permanent labels for an outdoor garden , the estimated cost will be about $8-9 (approximately $3-4 for the paint marker, $3 for spray paint, and $2 for wooden skewers).
  • Luggage Tag –When traveling I’ve notice almost 80% of luggage looks the same; black. I assume that’s so all the debris from airport luggage belts and dirty storage areas won’t show on your luggage as I discovered with my new orange suitcase. Most people also use the standard ID tag that comes with it, which makes finding your luggage a difficult task. You can create a unique luggage tag that no one else will have to make finding your bag that much easier at baggage claim. You will need scissors, a hole punch, a thick cord or wire, laminate materials, decorative paper, and an address label, business card, or permanent marker. You won’t need decorative paper if the old card you’re using is already unique or decorative in nature. The plastic used for these cards will make your luggage ID tag durable and the laminate will seal in the paper to keep it safe from water damage. This project should be free since most of these items can be found lying around a typical home. At most, you may need to purchase the cord if one didn’t come with your luggage, and pay to get the tag laminated at your local office supply store. Just make sure the machine won’t be too hot and melt the card. You can also buy self-adhesive laminate paper at about $20 per pack. (I wouldn’t recommend buying a laminating machine just for this project as those can cost $30 on the low side, not including materials).

Bookmarkers –I remember buying bookmarks at my schools book fairs for as much as $3, and I almost always lost them within the year. Rather than spend money on new book marks or expensive sticky notes, you can create your own unique bookmark from an old card. All you will need is an X acto blade (unless you have a laser cutter, which I doubt). You can create different shaped bookmarks like a hand, a funky design, or a holiday themed bookmark. Google “paper clips” to get some more ideas. The only cost associated with this craft should be for the x acto blade if you don’t already have one.

Key Holder -This idea is great for those who have either too many keys on their key ring, or for those who need to keep a key on hand, but they don't need it very often. Storing a key in this way will secure your key in your wallet and allow it to have a relatively low profile. You simply make two cuts in the card and slide your key through it to secure each end of the card. The best part is you can store two keys on one recycled credit card.

Here are a few more cool ways you can use your old credit cards.

Images: Earrings, Bracelet, RingCord organizer, Luggage Tag, Gift Tag, Bookmark, Plant Tag,

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