Are Credit Cards Waterproof?
How well do your cards fair to water damage?
We’ve probably all been there. Accididently washing our wallet’s in another attempt at failing to check our pockets beforehand. Your wallet might not have faired too well, but what about your credit/debit cards? So if you’re currently staring at a bunch of newly washed cards, and wonder if they’ll still work, then let’s the age-old question – are credit cards waterproof?
What are Credit Cards made of?
Most credit cards are overwhelming made from plastic (with the acception of a few like the Apple Card made from metal). This plastic makes up nearly 90% of the entire credit card making 90% of the wallet waterproof. Unfortunately, that remaining 10%, the electronic components that make up the credit card, is the trouble maker in all this. These small circuit chips, which you can see usually located in the top right of your credit card, stores transaction data, an antenna, and is the only reason why the card isn’t just a lump of plastic.
We decided to take one for the team and put one of our own credit cards (well it was actually a debit card) through a small number of water damage tests. This involved dumping and submerging the card in some water, for increasing intervals of time, then testing to see if it still worked. We luckily have our own NFC reader so it was easy to do.
We started off with a quick in and out, putting the debit card in the water and quickly pulling it out – It still worked. From here we decided to hold the water under for additional 3 seconds at a time then retesting. Below is a quick summary of our results and to us, the results were quite surprising.
Quick Dunk: Still works
3 seconds: Still works
6 seconds: Still works
9 seconds: Still works
12 seconds: Still works
15 seconds: Still works
Our final test was to put to test was a wash test inside one of our trusty leather bifolds. We ran the washing machine on a semi-hot wash at 60 degrees which took around 1 hour 30 minutes. As you’d expect, after being exposed to hot water for this length of time, and with the constant spinning involved the credit card was well and truly dead.
How to Prevent Debit Card Water Damage?
The best way to prevent credit card damage with water is to purchase a waterproof wallet that can protect your cards internally from water damage. If you’re the type of person who does any sort of water-dependent sports (swimming, sailing, etc…) then a waterproof wallet is probably your best bet to prevent damage. We have a full article outlining some of our personal favorite waterproof wallets that might be of interest to you.
The Verdict is in…
Small exposure to water might be okay for your credit/debit cards, but anything more than that you’re leaving it in the hands of the gods. Things like rain or splashes are most likely 100% fine, but having your cards submerged in water, in say a washing machine, is probably going to ruin your cards. That being said, don’t just throw it away. There’s no harm in going to a store and trying your card out for yourself. You might get lucky.
TL;DR: Short exposure to water seems fine, but I would risk it. Our tests showed permanent credit card damage when used in a washing machine.
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