SIM Card

What To Do With Your Old SIM Card (2023 Update)

Do you have an old SIM card, and are wondering what you should do with it?

Whether you’re getting a new phone or your old SIM has simply stopped working, you’ll want to make sure that you dispose of your SIM card correctly.

In this article, we’ll cover everything that you need to know!

How To Dispose Of Your Old SIM Card

SIM Card

When it comes to old SIM cards, there is a right way and a wrong way to get rid of them.

By following this simple four-step process, you’ll ensure that you can safely dispose of your SIM while still keeping your same phone number, and without any of your data being stolen.

1. Wait For Your New SIM Card To Arrive And Be Activated

First, before you get rid of your old SIM card, you should make sure that your new SIM card has already arrived.

Typically speaking, it’s very easy to get a new SIM card and still keep the same phone number on your phone. To do that however, you may still need your current SIM for your cellular provider to utilize.

Additionally, waiting until your new SIM arrives will ensure that you do not experience any loss in service.

Usually, when your new SIM is activated, your old SIM will become immediately deactivated. This means it can no longer be used to provide service to your phone.

At this point, the old SIM can is functionally useless, though it may still have data stored on it that you’ll want to backup before discarding it.

2. (Optional) Make A Backup

If you believe that your SIM card may have data stored on it, you’ll want to make a backup of it before you get rid of it.

However, on modern smartphones, this usually isn’t the case.

SIM cards do not store photos, and very rarely store information like contacts or text messages. The amount of space on a SIM card is simply too small, and even something like contacts being stored on the SIM really isn’t common for phones that aren’t 10+ years old.

On iPhones and Android phones for example, no data is stored on the SIM card at all. So, there is no need to do any backup of it.

You can verify this yourself by taking the SIM card out of the phone for a moment – you’ll see that all of your data – including your photos, videos, apps, notes, contacts etc, are all still there on the phone.

If you are using a very old cell phone with a number keypad however, it’s more likely that contacts may be stored on the SIM. In these instances, making a backup can be useful.

3. Cut It Up

Note: Skip this step if you intend to recycle the SIM with your carrier.

Once you have your new SIM card and you’ve made a backup of your old one (if necessary), you can now begin physically destroying it.

To do this effectively, cut it with a pair of scissors along the gold plate. Even one cut is enough to make it completely useless to anyone that might find it.

If you want to take this a step further, you can also crush it with a hammer, and then dispose of all the pieces.

However, this really isn’t necessary – especially if the SIM has already been deactivated, and you don’t have any personal data that’s stored on it.

4. Recycle Or Dispose Of It (cut and recycle, or just throw away.)

Finally, your last step is to actually dispose of the SIM card itself.

If you’re getting a new phone at a cellular provider’s retail store (such as AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile etc.), they will be able to collect and recycle the SIM card for you on the spot. You can also take the SIM in yourself if you’ve simply ordered a replacement.

Alternatively, you can just throw your destroyed SIM card in the garbage once you’ve made it physically unusable.

While we always recommend recycling electronics when possible, SIM cards are quite tiny and do not pose the same environmental risk as larger computer hardware does.

Do SIM Cards Have Data That Can Be Stolen?

Fortunately, the answer is no – at least in most cases.

As noted earlier, modern smartphones do not store any data at all on the SIM. So, even if somebody finds it in one piece and puts it into the phone, there will not be anything that they will find on there.

However, if the SIM card is still activated, they will be able to use your cellular service to place calls, send texts, and browse your carrier’s cellular network.

This can lead to them getting your calls, or racking up extra bills or charges on your account.

So, this is why it’s so important that the SIM card is fully destroyed, and deactivated before disposing of it.

Do SIM Cards Have Gold?

Yes! If you look at the plates on a SIM card, you will see that they are plated with gold metal.

Gold is commonly used in electronics because it has high conductivity, and it does not corrode or tarnish like many other metals.

Note however that the amount of gold used on SIM cards is very, very tiny. So, it’s not worth trying to melt or salvage the gold for profit.

The amount of gold is simply too small!

Can You Use An Old SIM Card In A New Phone?

Yes! If your old SIM is working just fine, there isn’t any reason you need to get a new one unless it’s incompatible.

SIM cards can last for over a decade if cared for properly, and can even last as you upgrade your phone.

The only reason you may consider getting a new one is if the old card won’t fit in your new phone. Although adapters are available to accommodate each of the three SIM card sizes (standard, micro and nano), it is easiest to simply get one that fits your phone without the use of an adapter.

That being said, you can usually use your old SIM in your new phone without any problems.


In this article, we’ve covered what to do with your old SIM card.

Thankfully, disposing of it is quick, easy and safe, provided you follow the steps above.

I hope that you’ve found this article helpful. If you have any other questions about SIM cards, please ask them using the comment form below.

Wishing you the best,

– James McAllister


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