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Do Magnets Damage Credit Cards?

Summary:Learn whether magnets can damage credit cards and how to protect your cards from hazards. Find out the threshold for magnetic damage and what to do if your card is affected.

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Do Magnets Damage Credit Cards? Here's What You Need to Know

Credit cards are essential financial tools for many people around the world. They offer convenience, security, and rewards for purchases and payments, and they can help build and maintain credit scores. However, credit cards are also vulnerable to damage, theft, and fraud. One common concern is whether magnets can harm credit cards by erasing or corrupting the data stored on the magnetic stripe. In this article, we will explore this topic in detail and provide some tips for protecting your credit cards.

What Is a Credit Card Magnetic Stripe?

First, let's review what acredit card magnetic stripeis and how it works. Most credit cards have a thin black or brown stripe on the back, which contains three tracks of information encoded by magnets. These tracks are numbered 1, 2, and 3 from left to right, and each has a specific purpose. Track 1 is used for identification and has the cardholder's name, account number, and expiration date. Track 2 is the primary track and contains the same data as track 1, plus a security code and some formatting information. Track 3 is optional and rarely used, except for certain international transactions.

The magnetic stripe technology has been around since the 1960s and is still widely used today, although newer technologies such as chip cards and mobile payments are gaining popularity. The magnetic stripe can be read by a magnetic card reader, which is a device that uses a magnetic head to detect and decode the signals from the stripe. The reader can then transmit the data to a computer or a payment terminal, which verifies the card's validity and processes the transaction.

Can Magnets Damage Credit Card Magnetic Stripes?

Now, let's address the main question: can magnets damage credit card magnetic stripes? The short answer is yes, but it depends on the strength and duration of the magnetic field, as well as the quality and thickness of the magnetic stripe. In general, credit card magnetic stripes are designed to withstand normal daily use and handling, including being swiped through card readers, inserted into ATMs, or stacked with other cards in wallets or purses. However, if a credit card is exposed to a strong magnetic field, such as from a rare-earth magnet, an MRI machine, or a demagnetizer, it may cause the magnetic particles on the stripe to align or shift, resulting in data loss or corruption.

The exact threshold formagnetic damagevaries depending on the type of card and the manufacturer, but most experts agree that a magnetic field of 1,500 gauss or more can cause harm. To put this in perspective, a refrigerator magnet has a strength of about 50 gauss, while a neodymium magnet can reach up to 10,000 gauss. Therefore, it is unlikely that a credit card will be damaged by casual exposure to household magnets, such as fridge magnets, magnetic clips, or magnetic phone cases. However, it is advisable to avoid placing credit cards near strong magnets, such as speakers, motors, or MRI machines, as well as keeping them away from demagnetizing devices, such as security gates, anti-theft tags, or some electronic gadgets.

What Should You Do If Your Credit Card Is Damaged by Magnets?

If you suspect that your credit card has been damaged by magnets, either because it doesn't work properly or because the stripe looks distorted or scratched, you should contact yourcard issuerimmediately to report the issue and request a replacement card. Most credit card companies offer free or low-cost replacements for damaged or lost cards, and they may also monitor your account for fraud or unauthorized activity. You should also check your recent transactions and statements to make sure that no fraudulent charges have occurred, and consider changing your login credentials and security questions for added protection.

How Can You Protect Your Credit Cards from Magnets and Other Risks?

To minimize the risks of credit card damage, theft, or fraud, consider the following tips:

- Keep your credit cards in a safe and dry place, such as a wallet, a cardholder, or a lockbox.

- Avoid exposing your credit cards to extreme temperatures, humidity, liquids, or chemicals, as they can also damage the card's materials or components.

- Don't lend your credit cards to anyone or share your PIN or CVV code with anyone, as they can use your card without your consent or knowledge.

- Monitor your credit card statements regularly and report any suspicious or unauthorized activity to your card issuer immediately.

- Use secure and reputable websites or merchants for online purchases and payments, and avoid clicking on suspicious links or downloading unknown files or apps.

- Consider using acredit monitoring serviceor a fraud alert system, which can notify you of any changes or inquiries to your credit report or score.

- Compare credit cards from different issuers and choose the one that best fits your needs and preferences, such as low interest rates, high rewards, or no annual fee.

- Read the terms and conditions of your credit card agreement carefully and understand the fees, charges, and grace periods associated with your card.

- Use your credit card responsibly and pay your bills on time and in full, as this can help improve your credit score and avoid late fees or penalties.


In conclusion, magnets can damage credit card magnetic stripes, but the risk is relatively low for normal use and exposure. However, it is still important to handle your credit cards with care and avoid exposing them to strong magnets or other hazards. If your credit card is damaged by magnets, contact your card issuer immediately and follow their instructions for obtaining a replacement card. To protect your credit cards from other risks, follow the tips above and stay informed about the latest developments in credit card technology and security.

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