There’s nothing more frustrating than realizing the magnetic strip on your credit card isn’t working. Especially if you are rushing to the store on your lunch break or buying essentials.
There’s a lot of information on the internet about what may have caused it, but do cell phones demagnetize credit cards?
Settle in to find out the definitive answer! Before we find out if your cell phone is the culprit, let’s take a look at the mini takeaway first.
In general new credit cards with EMV technology are far less likely to become demagnetized by cell phones or other magnetic items. However, Wireless charging has a much stronger magnetic field, so it’s worth removing hotel key cards, subway, and other travel cards from a phone case before charging.
Ok so with the brief answer in place, let’s start off with a little science lesson and discover exactly what a demagnetized card is.
What is a Demagnetized Credit Card?
If you can cast your mind back to elementary school when you learned about how magnets repel, and how the magnetic field is affected when two magnets come in close contact, then you are on the right track.
Magnetic fields can be affected when credit cards come in close contact with other materials that are magnetized.So when your credit card and other magnetized items come in fairly close contact, the magnetic field is affected and it can actually stop your card from working.
Luckily you’ll be pleased to know that for any long-term damage to occur it would take a number of magnet interactions.
“Magnetic fields can be affected when credit cards come in close contact with other materials that are magnetized.”
Why is the magnetized strip not working on your credit card?
If the magnetic strip is damaged on your card, the card reader that you either swipe or insert it into won’t be able to receive information such as your credit limit, account number, or available funds.
The reader needs to retrieve that information before it processes the transaction. This is what’s known as demagnetization.
Although general wear and tear to your phone is the usual culprit, prolonged exposure to magnetized items over time can ruin the magnetized strip.
In general most of the newer credit, debit and store cards we use usually has EMV technology. This has all but replaced the old type and in general, is more robust when it comes into contact with another magnet.
“In general most of the newer credit, debit, and store cards we use usually have EMV technology.”
But is this true of the magnet in cell phones too? Read on to find out more.
Will my cell phone demagnetize my credit cards?
It’s worth knowing that the magnetic field on your phone is located in your phone's speaker. In general, the magnetic field on your phone speaker is too weak to cause too many problems. So it shouldn’t cause any damage to the magnetic strip on your credit card.
This is one of the reasons that your phone doesn’t randomly attach itself to a paper clip or other small metal items.
Almost all newer cards we use these days have a chip inside them which means your phone won’t have the power to wipe information off your card if it passes by your phone speaker. What a relief.
The natural deterioration of your card will mean that the strip might begin to lose magnetization and even if you do keep your credit cards separate from your other cards, it may still need replacing.
Ok, so although the newer credit cards with EMV technology don’t seem as susceptible to losing magnetization, is it the same when you charge your phone?
“In general the magnetic field on your phone speaker is too weak to cause too many problems.”
Does charging my phone damage the magnetized strip on my card?
Most people generally use plug sockets to charge phones and if this is the case, there won’t be any danger to any credit cards placed near them.
However, it’s worth understanding that wireless charging can affect the magnetized strip on your credit cards. If your credit cards are placed between your phone and phone case when wireless charging. The extra magnetic field created exposes them to a heightened magnetic field.
If you use wireless charging regularly, try removing your cards from your phone case, if you use one, or keeping them out of the way for added safety.
Speaking of phone cases, should you keep your cards away from them at all times, or is it just while charging? We set the record straight below.
“Wireless charging can possibly affect the magnetized strip on your credit cards.”
Will the magnet in my phone case damage my credit card?
Phones do create a magnetic field, but thankfully, it isn't strong enough to demagnetize credit or debit cards. The small magnet in the phone’s speaker is the main culprit of generatingthe magnetic field. This field, however, is too weak to cause sufficient damage to a credit card magnetic strip, with some exceptions.
Not just the speaker magnet, but most of the magnets inside phone cases and clasps are usually very weak. There's no risk of your phone case causing malfunction or demagnetizing your cards.This means that things like wallet phone cases and flip phone cases are safe to use alongside your credit card.
But as we mentioned, there are exceptions for some different types of cards.
It depends on what type of card you have
For anyone wondering whether a cell phone is likely to demagnetize your card, you’ll need to know that there are two types of magnetic cards.
They are known as LoCo and HiCo.
The LoCo types (low coercivity) are generally the types used in parking lots, subways, and hotels. This type of card can very easily lose its magnetic properties.
In general, the HiCo (Hi coercivity) types are used for credit, debit, and store cards and are much more robust and durable than those used to gain entry into your hotel room for example.
LoCo cards can be more easily demagnetized when they’re in contact with other magnetic fields, such as your cell phone. As anyone who puts their room key next to their cellphone in their pocket and is subsequently locked out of their hotel room can testify!
One other question here… is there any way of fixing a demagnetized card?
Can you fix a demagnetized card?
So glad you asked! Although you can’t literally ‘fix’ a card that has been demagnetized, you can protect the LoCo type of cards you carry like subway and other travel card.
But keep these cards away from:
Phone Wireless charging
Use a Pocket-Sized Card Holder
Although we’ve talked about how cell phones are likely to do little damage to newer types of credit cards, anyone with an older style or those with other types of store cards, or subway cards might benefit from using a cardholder, like our nylon card holder.
It’s worth mentioning that the physical damage that can happen when cards are moved around day after day can contribute to damage on magnetized strips - even the newest types. Keeping your credit cards in a scratch-free zone can stop those embarrassing store occasions where your card decides to act up and the line starts getting longer and longer behind you.
Storing all your cards in a neat little purpose-built wallet will keep them all in great condition and limit damage.
In general, it’s better to keep your cards in acard wallet that will provide some protection from demagnetization and wear and tear. Not to mention card wallets look super sleek.
We hope that’s given you the definitive answer as to whether your cell phone is likely to demagnetize your credit card.
Don’t forget to head over to ourwallet store to find top-quality Nappa leather credit card holders in shades of midnight blue, onyx black, and merlot, that will definitely keep your cards secure and tech safe! Our high-quality wallets are lined with bluesign®-certified ripstop nylon and can help to minimize damage to your credit, debit, and other cards. Your future self is thanking you for getting one.