When buying SIM cards, you’ll notice an expiry date written on their packet. You may wonder what the use of this expiry date is and why a SIM card would even have one in the first place. It is not a perishable item, but a plastic card with an embedded chip and shouldn’t become obsolete. Thus, it’s not surprising these thoughts and questions occur in your mind. Moreover, this expiry date is different from the one for your calling plan, data plan, or the main balance (also known as airtime) of your SIM card.
In this article, you will come to know the primary purpose behind the expiry date printed on the SIM card kit. Every mobile network operator mentions it on their kits, and for a good reason. The main thing to remember is that this expiry date matters only while the SIM card remains inactive. As soon as the SIM card is bought by a user, it gets activated in a few minutes up to a few hours. After the activation, the SIM card expiry date reported on the kit becomes meaningless.
Types of expiration periods for a SIM card
There are three kinds of expiry dates related to your SIM card. Here they are:
- Expiry of your SIM card before it is activated, printed on the SIM card kit
- Expiry date of your SIM card after activation
- Expiration date of the mobile plan you purchased
All three kinds of expiry dates are different. In this article, you will understand the first form, i.e., the expiry date of the SIM card before activation, printed in the aforementioned place.
Why do SIM cards have an expiry date if not activated?
A SIM card has a validity date written on its packet. This seems illogical, as all the SIM cards are in perfectly usable condition even after the date of expiry has passed. The validity is documented by the network provider so that it does not have to keep a very old series of SIM cards in its systems. The longer these SIM cards stay in the company’s database system, the more the cost increases for the firm. If the SIM cards remain viable forever, entries belonging to unused SIM cards would be in millions.
The SIM card technology keeps evolving, making all kinds of changes over time. If the inactive older version SIM cards continue to circulate in the market, the situation will become troublesome for the mobile network providers. After all, they would need to exchange all those SIM cards with the newer versions. SIM card companies keep changing the form, branding, security, storage capacity, and so on. Therefore, it is better if the older unused versions get obsolete gradually and the new ones take their place. Hence, all SIM cards have a specific validity period. If activated before it ends, expiration data ceases to matter. If that happens afterward, activation will be impossible.
What happens to expired SIM cards?
A SIM card never expires physically, only electronically. SIM cards oftentimes stay inside devices for a long time, hence they don’t face any wear and tear issues. A SIM card in its physical form can function for extensive periods. However, it can become obsolete in terms of its electronics. Newer versions replace the older ones if they’re lagging in terms of functionality, even if, in reality, the latter can keep working for years. In summary, older inactive version of SIM cards becomes useless on the date of their expiry. Mobile network operators don’t allow the activation of a SIM card once it crosses its validity period. Such SIM cards become worthless and are discarded.