Earth magnets, which are stronger and rarer than the kind that is commonly found on refrigerators, can permanently damage your credit card. More specifically, any type of magnet can harm the strip on your credit card that holds all pertinent information. Credit cards may or may not be instantly destroyed when they are exposed to earth magnets, but repeated exposure almost certainly guarantees that they will eventually become unreadable.
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The strip on your the back of credit cards contains information that is needed to process transactions. This strip can become damaged over time as scratches and dents begin to emerge. Placing an earth magnet on any part of your credit card will cause the information in your credit card to become distorted. This is the main reason that credit card companies urge cardholders to protect their credit cards at all times.
Should I use credit cards when earth magnets are nearby?
Earth magnets may not be as plentiful or as powerful as regular magnets, but they can still do some damage from a distance. An earth magnet will not be able to damage a credit card from across the room, but it does have enough pull to attract a credit card from a few feet away.
In your regular everyday life, you have probably used your credit card countless times while earth magnets were nearby. As long as direct contact is not made, you should not have to worry about permanent damage.
Can you fix a credit card once it has been damaged?
After a credit card magnetic strip has been damaged, there is little that you can do to fix it. In some cases, when a credit card has just been bent, you can attempt to gently straighten it out, but the strip may be ruined already. However, once a credit card can no longer be swiped, you can feel free to try different techniques to get it to work.
Some users have reported getting their credit cards to work temporarily by wiping the strip with a clean towel or even cleaning it with a pencil eraser.
Since damage from earth magnets usually comes after multiple exposures, you may notice that you have a harder time getting your credit card to read on the first try. As soon as you notice that your credit card is in poor condition, you should just go ahead an order a replacement card.
What else is harmful to credit cards?
Credit cards should be kept away from high temperatures, extreme exposure to cold, and even some electronics. Earth magnets may pose the imminent danger to credit cards, but there are other materials that are just as dangerous. Scissors and razor blades can scratch deep into the surface of your credit card magnetic strip and certain liquids may render them unusable.
In temperatures that are too high, credit cards can warp. Exposure to the cold may result in irreparable cracks. While ordering a new replacement credit card can be an inconvenience, this will save you from being unable to pay for your purchases in an emergency.
Can you tell if your credit card is damaged?
Sometimes credit card damage is easily detected by the human eye, but in other instances, there would be no way for you to know. If you think that your credit card has been exposed to a magnet or another potentially damaging material, you may want to test the magnetic strip by making a small purchase.
If your credit card can be read, you probably don’t have anything to worry about.
Remember that some credit card readers are more sensitive than others. While you may have no issues getting your credit card to swipe at one merchant, you may have issues with several other credit card terminals. Other than calling your credit card company and requesting a replacement card, there is little that you can do to confirm whether or not it has been damaged.
Sometimes credit cards can be faulty or damaged before you even receive them. If you have spoken to a representative at your credit card company and do not get the response that you want, consult with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Although this agency usually specializes in credit card company complaints, you will be able to get detailed information on your credit card company.
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