Do Magnets Ruin Credit Cards?

By Bruce Boswell •  Updated: 12/14/21 •  6 min read
Filed under: Credit Cards

Making sure that your credit card is safe and operable is one of the most important parts of ensuring that you not only have a credit card you can use constantly but also making sure you aren’t constantly having to request a new credit card.

Credit card care is often overlooked by many people because it seems unnecessary – after all, you might think that your credit card is indestructible, that it can survive anything because of the material that it is made from, so why should you care for your credit card? 

Do Magnets Ruin Credit Cards

The answer of course is simple – credit cards aren’t indestructible, and you need to know what exactly harms them, what causes them to break down in order to ensure that your credit card doesn’t suffer the same fate. 

This is why you need to know the answer to questions such as do magnets ruin credit cards. This article will not only answer that question but also give you advice as to how to ensure your credit card is protected against anything that could possibly harm it. We also have this guide on if phones demagnetize cards.

Do Magnets Ruin Credit Cards?

First, let’s address one of the main things that many people believe harm credit cards – magnets. Do magnets in fact ruin credit cards? The answer is simple – they can demagnetize the strip on the back of the credit card and therefore render the card inoperable.

This means that when you go to pay for something your card will not work, and you won’t be able to get it working when you need it to unless you effect a temporary repair to your card. 

If your card has been demagnetized then you can affect a temporary repair of the card however, it is best if you find your credit card has come in contact with a magnet to simply order yourself a new credit card. 

Now that we have explained what can happen when your credit card comes into contact with a magnet let’s explain why magnets have such an unfortunate effect on credit cards. 

Why Do Magnets Harm Credit Cards?

As you may have noticed in this piece, so far, we have talked about how magnets demagnetize a credit card and that is how they render them inoperable. You might be wondering what exactly this means and how a magnet can stop a credit card working. 

Well, credit cards contain on the back of them a black strip that helps the credit card to communicate with an ATM or other credit card readers.

This is called a magnetic strip and it contains all the material on the front of your card but related on the back of the strip in such a way that a machine can decode the strip, process the information on it, communicate with your bank and authorise the withdrawal of money or a payment in seconds. 

The magnetic strip, as you might imagine, works on the principle of using a magnetic contact with the card reader in order to work.

This is why if it comes into contact with a magnet it ends up not working because the magnet on the card and the actual magnet ends up cancelling one another out, leading to the demagnetization of the card. 

You might think that this might mean that you can’t use your card at all and that you will be stuck until you can order yourself another card. However, there is a little trick which if used correctly can ensure you can still use your demagnetized card for the short while that you wait for a new card. 

How To Still Use Your Card After It Has Come Into Contact With A Magnet

You might be thinking that after your credit card has come into contact with a magnet that you won’t be able to use it all. However, that isn’t the case.

The card details can still be used so if you find your card demagnetized and wish to pay for something you can simply ask the store clerk to input your details manually and the money will still go off your card.

This also means if you have any online subscriptions that they will still be paid for off your card, and you won’t have to worry about them not working. 

You can of course affect a quick repair to keep your credit card active. This can be done by placing a clear piece of tape across the magnetic strip Whilst you might think that this might not actually help the card, it in fact does. 

This is because when the magnetic strip comes into contact with a magnet it has the effect of creating background noise which confuses the card reader and thus making it inoperable.

However, by placing the clear stick of tape over the magnetic strip you can “quieten” the background noise and make it so that the card reader is much more likely to be able to read your card and therefore work. 

This should of course only be used as a temporary measure as someone might inadvertently become suspicious if they see you walking around with a credit card with a clear piece of tape on it.

Once you know your credit card has come into contact with a magnet, make sure to order a new one and then put the piece of tape on the back of it to use as a temporary measure until your new card arrives. 

Keeping Your Card Safe

If you are careless with your credit card it is easy for it to come into contact with a magnet, whether it be in your pocket or if you have left it somewhere near a magnet.

This is why, to ensure the minimal disruption to your life you must make sure to keep your credit card safe in your wallet at all times when it isn’t in direct use. 

It is also worth noting that if you have several credit cards it is best not to keep them back-to-back in your wallet because this can sometimes accidentally cause demagnetization. In order to avoid that make sure that you keep your cards separated in your wallet.

Some people like to put them in little plastic card holders inside their wallet and this does often help prevent them from being harmed. 

Whatever you do to protect your card, make sure you try to protect it as being cavalier with your card can only end up hurting you.  

Bruce BoswellBruce Boswell

Bruce Boswell

Bruce Boswell enjoys researching and writing about all things related to investing and saving money. Whenever he has a chance, Bruce loves travelling all around the world with his wife and trying new foods.