When a credit card is swiped or dipped into a POS machine, the machine receives all your information such as your account number and credit card limit through the magnetic strip that is on the back of your credit card. But what if the magnetic stripe gets damaged and is not able to provide your information to the machine to approve or reject the transaction. Hence, such a situation where the magnetic stripe is not able to provide any information and loses its ability to communicate the information it beholds is known as demagnetization. In order to keep using your card without any difficulties, it is really important to protect credit cards from demagnetizing.
Coming in close contact with any magnetic thing can erase the data present in the encoded form on the magnetic strip or if the card is placed somewhere where it can eventually get scratches on the magnetic stripe can also lead to demagnetization of the card. In this article, we will discuss how demagnetization happens and what are the ways in which it can be prevented.
What is demagnetization?
The modern credit cards contain a magnetic stripe on the backside of the credit card that contains all the information related to the card in an encrypted format. But if you are stuck in a situation where your card stops working despite the fact that you have an available credit limit in your account, the machine is connected to the network properly, etc, the reason behind this must be that your credit card has been demagnetized. Hence, precisely, demagnetization is the process by which the magnets interfere with the magnetic properties present on the backside of the card in the form of a magnetic stripe. This exposure can destroy the card details and hence makes us unable to use a credit card.
How do credit cards get demagnetized?
- When a credit card comes in close contact with any magnetic thing, then it can erase all the information stored in the magnetic strip of your card. For example – Placing your cards near to your mobile phones every time can lead to demagnetization of the card.
- Security systems have very high chances of ruining the magnetic stripe of your credit card hence scrambling all the information present in the stripe of the card.
- Little things make big problems. Placing your credit card near a small household magnet, or near the magnetic clasps of your wallet can also lead to the demagnetization of the credit card. Therefore, you should always try to keep your cards in a safe and secure place.
- The wear and tear of credit cards can also be one of the reasons behind this. If you have been using your card for a long time now there is a possibility that your card’s magnetic stripe might have been worn down and is now causing problems in completing transactions through that card.
- Demagnetization can also take place if the card is excessively scratched. Something in your wallet or in your pocket might be scratching the magnetic stripe of your credit card and can lead to information being lost from your magnetic stripe.
- Demagnetization can also occur if 2 cards are placed back to back, i.e., the backsides of both the cards face each other.
Ways To Prevent Demagnetization of the Cards
Although you have an option of getting a new credit card if your current card is demagnetized but paying for a new card and then the time taken to deliver the new card to your address can be a very tedious job. Hence, we can follow the below-mentioned steps to protect our card from getting demagnetized –
- Never place your card near any magnetic device. Always place your card away from heavy devices such as refrigerators, televisions, etc
- Avoid placing your card on the same cover on which you have placed your smartphone. Also, do not lay your card over your smartphone. These activities can lead to damage to your card’s magnetic stripe.
- While you are in a supermarket or in a store, make sure that you do not place your card near any of the security sensors. Also, you should not place your card on the sensor present at the cash counter or near the machine that is used to remove tags from the clothes. The reason behind this is that these devices are highly magnetic and if cards are placed near these machines, they can erase all the information that is encrypted in the magnetic stripe of the card.
- Your cards should be placed in separate slots in your wallet. No two magnetic stripes should face each other. If both the cards are placed in such a way that the magnetic stripes face each other, then there could occur a magnet-on-magnet action and lead to demagnetization of either one or both the cards.
- You should never with your hands, try to rub the magnetic strip of your card. This might lead to scratches on the card and can hence result in demagnetizing.
What to do if your card is demagnetized?
Once you come to know that your card has been demagnetized, you should immediately contact your respective card issuer company and inform them about the status of your card. You can hence place a new card request over the call and upon approval, your new card will reach you within 5-7 business days.
Demagnetized credit cards can sometimes be fixed by applying clean transparent tape on the magnetic stripe of the credit card. This trick might sometimes work or even might fail but then this is not the permanent fix to our problem. We will always have to apply for a new card in case of demagnetization. Scratches and wear and tear are common causes of demagnetization but intentional steps such as exposing cards near to magnetic devices, placing all the cards in a single place, mishandling of cards, etc can be avoided to protect our cards from getting demagnetized.
Suggested Read: What Do All the Symbols / Numbers On Your Credit Card Mean?