Will Magnets Ruin my Credit Cards?

The Truth about Demagnitzation

POver the past few years, we’ve seen an increasingly large amount of wallets pop onto the market with magnetic functionality. Whether it’s to keep the wallet secured (like with the Harber London) for better or enhanced functionality (like with the Pitaka Wallet) we still need to better understand the way magnets interfere with typical credit/debit cards. Hopefully, this article will explain all, and hopefully, give buyers more confidence in their decision to purchase a magnetic wallet. 

What is Demagnetization?

You’ve probably heard the term demagnetization in an old science class but what actually is it? In a nutshell, demagnetization is the process by which Magnets can interfere with the magnetic properties (or particles) on the back of your card. It is commonly believed that exposure to these can scramble your card information and make cards unreadable by payment devices. 

Not all Credit Cards are created equal…

Before we talk more about Demagnetization we must talk about credit cards and cards in general. There are two types of credit cards. Standard Strip cards and what’s known as EMV cards. EMV chip cards use an actual computer chip placed on the actual card. Their chips are by far more secure and allow more accurate transactions to be made. On the other hand, the classic and aging stripe cards. These don’t have a chip and use magnetic particles to communicate data between the strip and the receiving credit card terminal.

Our Own Magnet Testing

We decided to take this one step further and do our own little tests. We bought some strong magnets off Amazon and decided to potentially sacrifice a few of our own credit cards for the greater good. At first, we started small by simply placing our cards on top of the magnets for a small number of times (1 – 2 hours at a time). We then headed to the shops to see if there was any evidence demagnetization had taken place. 

After this initial testing (we reperformed this several times) we found no difference to how our credit/debit cards worked and no difference that occurred. With this in mind, we decided to take it a step further. We left our cards stacked on top of a strong magnet for 24 hours to see if that made any difference – and you know what? It didn’t. Even after 24 hours planted on top of a magnet our cards still worked perfectly fine.

Are Magnetic Wallets Safe?

Our own evidence seems to show not. That being said, there’s much indicator to show its not the strength of a magnet that causes demagnetization but more exposure to time. So if you carry a card with an EMV chip, with a magnet, then it could take months if the chances of ruining your cards are increased. All the Cards we used in our testing were EMV Chip cards.

That being said if you still own cards that use classic strips then they are much more susceptible to demagnetization and might be issue overtime. But, if your credit/debit cards use EMV Chips, which most moderns cards use today, then you should be fine with using your cards with any sort of magnets.

How to Prevent Credit Card Demagnetization 

If you’re worried about your cards and demagnetization then you should err on the side of caution. Either choose a wallet that doesn’t include them (most don’t) or minimize the risk by switching out different cards at any one time. That being said, the magnets used in certain wallets aren’t even close to being strong enough to cause any issues so I wouldn’t worry too much. 

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