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How to destroy metal credit cards without killing your shredder

To give reward cards some heft, some issuers make them nearly indestructible

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Cashing In
Cashing In columnist Tony Mecia
Tony Mecia is a business journalist who writes for a number of trade and general-interest publications. He writes "Cashing In," a weekly column about credit card rewards programs, for CreditCards.com

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Question Dear Cashing In,
I've got a couple of Chase Sapphire Preferred cards lying around. I got a new card a few months after some fraud was detected, and then more recently I canceled the account altogether because I didn't want to pay the annual fee. I tried putting the card through the shredder, and it literally shut down the shredder. Then I tried scissors, and that didn't work either. Apparently the card contains metal. How can I safely dispose of it? -- Dominic

Answer Dear Dominic,
It's not just shredders and scissors that won't destroy the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. In a post on FlyerTalk, an online travel discussion board, one cardholder said he failed with garden shears and a wire cutter before using a power tool with a metal cutting head to grind the card into bits.

What, it's too far to travel to Mordor and toss your canceled Chase Sapphire Preferred card into Mount Doom?

With rewards cards, issuers like to distinguish their product from the pack. Typically, they do this with different card features such as "no-hassle rewards" or free hotel nights or double points for dining out. But sometimes they also seek to stand out with an innovative design.

With a $95 annual fee (waived the first year), Chase Sapphire Preferred is the least expensive and most common rewards card that is made out of metal. In addition to being hard to destroy, the cards are too inflexible to work at Redbox kiosks, which annoyingly require the card to bend a little to go through the swipe slot. The Sapphire Preferred can be also tough to use with those old credit card imprint machines -- if you've seen one of those lately -- since the account number on the card is not really raised. But at least they supposedly don't set off airport metal detectors.

Chase spokesman Rob Tacey says the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the bank's Ritz-Carlton Rewards card ($395 annual fee) both have a metal inlay design where the cardholder's account data is laser-engraved. This adds to "the uniqueness and sophistication of the card design itself," he says.

Another metallic card is the J.P. Morgan Palladium card, available only to the bank's private banking clients. As its name suggests, it's made of palladium, a rare silvery-white metal that last was trading for more than $700 an ounce in mid-January. 

Fortunately, American Express' Platinum and Gold cards are not made of those elements. They are plastic. But American Express does have one metal card: the ultra-elite Centurion card, which is available by invitation only. An American Express spokeswoman wouldn't give any specifics on the card, other than to confirm that yes, it is made of metal. CreditCards.com has previously reported that the Centurion is made of titanium.

As far as disposing of the Sapphire Preferred card, Tacey says cardholders can call the phone number on the card and request a postage-paid envelope to mail the card back to Chase, which will destroy it.

See related: Video: Cut up your card the right way, You've arrived! True tales of the mysterious Black CardWhich cards can you churn for multiple rewards bonuses?

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Published: January 21, 2014



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Updated: 10-30-2014

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