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I've collected all of the Christmas Sale cards and kept 2 of each of them converting the rest into gems. This weekend all of my collected cards were gone. Were these time limited cards and if yes what were we supposed to do with them in that limited time?

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New Year cards? I don't remeber even hearing about these, and I use Steam rather often, including trading cards. Were these seperate from the Christmas Sale cards? – DJ Pirtu Jan 11 at 12:46
    
Oops my bad. Editing the title right now :) – Montag451 Jan 11 at 12:47
up vote 13 down vote accepted

For a couple of years now, since Holiday Sale 2013, the trading cards related to sale events have been only temporary. In fact 2013's Steam Summer Getaway cards are the only ones that didn't expire. (Although badges and items obtained from them would be permanent.) After expiring, the cards would disappear from all inventories.

The Holiday Sale 2015 card set expired on Jan 4th 2016.

Example image showing "Valid untill 04/01/2016

As seen in the image above (provided by Little Helper), if you looked at the cards in your Inventory screen, there would be a note in red stating that the cards would expire at specific date and time. And I belive the time is localized as well, so it will be accurate to your local time.

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Thanks for this. I wasn't paying attention to Steam since nearly 2 years and just recently returned playing games on it. I wasn't aware of an expiration date. – Montag451 Jan 11 at 12:55
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@Montag451 The expiration day is always written in the cards info text: i.imgur.com/TYtmew9.png – Little Helper Jan 11 at 15:17
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Wow those red lines on a black background are definitely not readable for my old eyes :) Isn't there a logical contradiction in those statements? How can the cards be valid until 4.1.16 but tradeable after 8.1.16? If I craft them into badges they would disappear from my inventory and if I didn't do anything with them, then they would disappear on 4. January, again. Then how would I be able to use them after 8. January? – Montag451 Jan 11 at 16:52
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@Montag451 The "tradable after" date and its associated message is automatically generated in response to an effect on the item preventing it from being traded for a specific amount of time, often due to market activities with the item in question. Likely, the card was purchased from the market on 01/01/16, which caused a 7-day delay before the item could be traded or sold again. – Michaellogg Jan 11 at 17:01
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@JeffMercado According to the Trading Cards Wiki (yes, there is a wiki for everything these days), Holiday Sale 2013 cards were the first to expire, and I don't remember any set doing anything different since. – DJ Pirtu Jan 12 at 7:08

To answer the second half of the question, "What were we supposed to do with them in that limited time?", the special trading cards collected during the sale could be used to craft a badge.

Crafting badges from your trading cards is the primary way you earn XP and increase your Steam level. Certain customization features are only available once you have attained certain levels.

Additional Steam levels also increase your chances of getting booster packs of additional trading cards. Some of these cards can be "foil" cards, which are used to craft limited edition badges and are also more valuable on the market.

Badges can also be upgraded once they have been crafted, through the same process. In your case, you could have crafted the badge and then upgraded it by one level since you had two complete sets.

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Which means that I've missed the opportunity to do so and wasted those cards (and my time watching all of those game videos) :( – Montag451 Jan 11 at 16:22

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