Can Magnet Damage Credit Card?

By Dave Nyam •  Updated: 03/22/24 •  5 min read

Credit cards are meant to be the most normally utilized financial instruments in modern financial transaction circles. Membership credit cards, though, remain one of the best-regarded alternatives to make financial transaction dealings easy and secure. This is, however, not to stipulate that they are damage-proof. One of the highly observable concerns is the possible harm caused by magnets. This article delves into the issue of the susceptibility of credit cards to magnetic fields, how that damage is likely to occur, and probable ways in which a person may protect his cards. Understanding the relationship between magnets and credit cards

is a call in the wake of the digital transaction era.

Can Magnet Damage Credit Card?

Magnets can be very destructive and can even destroy credit cards. If a credit card is magnetic, a strong magnetic force from a strong magnet can ruin it. On a credit card’s magnetic strip, there is usually some crucial information, like the cardholder’s name, the account number, and other information crucial for carrying out various transactions.

A strong magnetic field can also destroy or scramble encoded data. This interference may render the card unreadable by the payment terminals, which may mean an inconvenience or even a financial disruption for the cardholder. Note that the EMV Chip Card is stronger in such damaging situations.

How Do I Protect My Credit Card from Magnets?

To protect your credit card from magnets and ensure the magnetic strip remains intact, consider the following measures:

How Close Can a Magnet Be to a Credit Card?

It depends on the distance within which the magnet can start affecting a credit card, but commonly, at least one inch should be left between the magnet and a credit card to avoid any danger. In general, the risks of getting demagnetized depend on the magnet’s strength and exposure time.  For example, short contact with weak magnets will hardly ever cause any problem, but continuous exposure or strong magnetic contact—such as what occurs in an MRI machine—could cause demagnetization.

Remember that although many everyday items, such as a purse clasp or holders for your cell phone, likely contain magnets, they are generally not strong enough to cause harm if kept at a reasonable distance. One must always maintain distance so that any magnetic source cannot interfere with the magnetic strip. A cushion distance between the credit card and magnetic sources must always be maintained.

Why Do Magnets Erase Credit Cards?

The credit card is designed to store the data with metal stripes at the back. The stripe contains the cardholder’s name, account number, expiration date, credit limit, some number of the card, and information regarding card usage. In such a way, any material with a magnetic field that comes into contact with the magnet will reorder the particles in the strip and conduct demagnetization. The process can wipe or scramble the information so the card is unreadable.

The specific effect a magnet will have on a credit card depends on how close and exposed the magnet is to the card. The longer a card has been left exposed to a magnet, especially if it’s an inch or closer to a magnet, the more likely the magnet is to wipe information on the magstripe. In general, multiple long-term interactions with a magnet are needed to cause harm to your card.

Some good news, though: recently, cards with EMV chips, when hit by magnets, are not subject to deformation. Modern chips are more resistant to shocks and help render transactions to the highest order of accuracy. Don’t worry about magnetic damage if your card supports an EMV chip. But if you have traditional cards with magnetic strips, be more careful, as they are much more demagnetizable.

How Do You Know If Your Card Is Demagnetized?

Determining if your credit card has been demagnetized involves a few simple observations and tests:

However, if you suspect card demagnetization, call your bank to confirm and ask for a replacement. You can also manually write and enter the card number until the new one arrives.

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