Do magnets mess up credit cards? If yes, then how?
Will your credit card becomes unreadable if it is exposed to magnets or how do magnets mess up credit cards chips? In the previous story, we said yes, but a lot of you begged to differ. Seeing that, we took the challenge of clearing things up once and for all. The result: With the help of junkyard magnet, a garden variety fridge magnet, and a teacher with extensive knowledge of magnetism, we were finally right. Following the publication of our book “How to Destroy Your Credit Card” in September 2009, there was a heated debate. People started weighing in on whether magnets, particularly those of the fridge persuasion, in fact had the power to strip a stripe.
Running a magnet over the strip will do nothing and magnets won’t mess up credit cards, said one commenter on our video at YouTube.com. Few asked do magnetic phone cases damage credit cards? Others chimed in with their very own experience with credit cards and magnets. We put our cards to the test against a barrage of different magnets. Even heading into the junkyard to swipe stripes with a few severe electromagnetic forces. But before we get to the outcomes that whether magnets mess up credit cards or not, let us take a step back.
The mystery of the stripe on credit cards which magnets can mess up
Credit card magnetic stripes take more than just your precious financial information, they take some mystery, too. The stripe you see on the rear of your card is a collection of magnetic particles and those magnets particles can mess up credit cards, each a small magnet about 20 millionths of an inches long.
It is commonly believed that exposing these particles to external magnets can confuse information and make the card unreadable. That is the theory. But does it really happen? We sought to discover.
Magnets on a mission to find out how magnets mess up credit cards
Our experiment began with 3 Different magnets of different strengths which can mess up credit cards: A generic fridge magnet, comparable to the one that is probably holding up your kid’s artwork in your kitchen. A slightly more strong magnet, which is capable of holding up to 72 pounds. A junkyard magnet, which can hold approximately 7, 000 pounds and is just plain fun to watch in action. You never know when you will just happen to be waving your credit card around in a junkyard.
We swiped 3 separate cards to check can chip cards be demagnetized, all have been tested and working correctly before the experiment, by the way, with one of those kinds of magnets, then took them to a local retailer who ran each card through a credit card machine to test which ones were still readable and which ones weren’t. When all the preparations were ready, it was a moment of great revelation.
Moment of truth: to see which magnets mess up credit cards
Up first was the card exposed to the fridge magnet. It turned out that it was still readable by a credit card machine. The 2nd, larger magnet wasn’t, despite multiple swipes.
Could we’ve been on how to the major scientific breakthrough we’d been hoping for? Not so fast. It had been time to put the 3rd card, the one exposed to the broken magnet, in the test, and surprisingly, the card was still readable. It’d survived the most strong magnet in our arsenal. This caused considerable confusion. Our first assumption was that the force of the magnet would play a part in the demagnetization process. Therefore, a wimpy fridge magnet would not have the information destruction powers of an enormous junkyard magnet. We were wrong. Puzzled, we turned to a specialist for answers.
Calling in the specialist
Totally stumped by the fact that only one of three magnets had left a card unreadable, we sought the guidance of A. Dean Sherry, a chemistry professor at the University of Texas at Dallas. Sherry is also the associate director of the Rogers Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Center along with a radiology professor at the UT Southwestern Medical Center.
Put simply, he has lots of magnetic expertise for our purposes. He heard us and adjusted our hypothesis on the relation between the force of the magnet as well as its own power within the information on the stripe. The field strength isn’t all of that significant. He explained. Even the refrigerator should work eventually. So what was the deciding factor? . Exposure time. It’s well known that magnets will wipe out information on credit card stripes, Sherry stated. But, it does not always occur after one exposure. Deactivating the card may take some time after exposure, but it will eventually happen.
Huh. So armed with that info, we chose to replicate the experiment with the refrigerator magnet. We abandoned the magnet exposed to the charge card stripe for a few minutes and took a few more swipes for a good measure. Then we took it back to the store, achievement. The card strip had been demagnetized.
Not the only way to destroy a card
The safest, most sensible way to ruin your credit card, however, would be to cut it into small pieces utilizing a shredder along with a pair of scissors. For an excess level of protection, you may use a magnet on the stripe. Just make sure to expose it to get a substantial period of time, which goes for heavy duty junkyard magnets, too.