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You’re here because you’ve heard about powerful magnets demagnetizing your cards. Is it true? Will magnets in money clips really demagnetize all of your cards? We’ve written this article to give you the lowdown on magnetic wallets.
Do Magnetic Wallets Demagnetize Credit Cards?
So you got a new wallet or money clip for your birthday…or maybe Christmas? But wait! This wallet is a little different than others you’ve used in the past…it’s held together by a magnet? We’ve all seen them, typically in the form of a money clip with two giant magnets that “pop” the sides together. Let’s admit it, that “pop” is really satisfying, right?
Take this little beauty for instance. It literally advertises itself as having a “super strong magnet!”
Now don’t get us wrong… this is awesome in terms of keeping your money clip together and it holds cash, cards and receipts really well. In fact, that’s the reason you have it, because it holds your stuff together so much better than a traditional money clip. But that’s not why you’re here… you want to know if thats going to be a problem down the line with your cards.
Well, there are some things you need to know:
Not All Cards Are Created Equal
First – there are a few cards that are more susceptible to being demagnetized than others. Cards such as hotel keys and even some work badges, utilize a less robust magnetic storage and are more likely to be affected by a wallet which also involves a magnet.
One of the main reasons you don’t have anything to worry about though, is that the card makers that issue these cards make them quite durable. It would cost them millions of dollars a year to have to constantly be replacing cards that were being demagnetized. The black magnetic strip on the back goes through quite the process and is sealed such that it’s protected from a lot of these issues. And to be technical, the magnetic strips are rated much too high in term of “coercivity”. (It’s basically how resilient they are to being demagnetized – keep reading…)
Demagnetization… Science Is Cool
Ok, so now we turn to science. We want to know exactly what it is that might cause cards to be demagnetized in the first place. If we know what causes it maybe we can take some steps to avoid it (if that’s even necessary).
Hands down, the best place on the internet that discusses demagnetization is K&J Magnets. As they should be, they’re know for selling some of the world’s strongest magnets. If you want a full run-down, please click here and do some leisurely reading. If you’re not and just want hit the highlights, see below:
- Basically, the magnetic strip on the back of the card stores digital data. This data is what tells the merchant who you are so they know what credit card to charge.
- Coercivity is simply a measurement of how resistant the magnet is to changes in its magnetization. That’s a mouthful. To put it simply:
- high-coercivity = difficult to demagnetize
- Low-coercivity = easy to demagnetize (hotel keys)
- Rare earth and permanent style magnets have the ability to wipe out credit cards super easily (these aren’t used in any wallets that we know of).
How to Prevent Credit Cards from Being Demagnetized
So now that we know how it works, we have come up with a few steps to take in order to prevent it from happening to your cards:
- Carry Cash – Magnetic money clips are generally designed to hold cash. So consider using them for that instead of carrying around all of your cards. Luckily there are enough innovative wallet makers out there if they come up with awesome money clip/wallet designs to accommodate both.
- Sandwich Those Cards – If you do feel it necessary to carry cards with your magnetic money clip, try to sandwich them in between bills that your kids. The extra layers will help protect the magnetic strip on your cards.
- Separate Those Cards – Pay attention to the actual cards that you’re carrying in your wallet. If you’re traveling and staying at a hotel, it’s probably not wise to carry a hotel card inside your magnetic money clip. These cards are demagnetized and re-magnetized on a regular basis (on purpose – changing room numbers).
How Do You Demagnetize A Chipped Credit Card?
The good news with all of this? Everything we’ve discussed relates to demagnetizing the brown or black strips on the back of a credit or debit card. But more and more cards are chipped and/or use RFID technology (the tech that allows for contactless payments).
Microchips & RFID Aren’t Affected – as this is a totally different technology, the risk of demagnetizing a chipped card is a lot lower. Technically, it might be possible to damage a chip with a really, really powerful magnet, but not one you’re going to come into contact with in normal life.
Do Magnetic Wallets Demagnetize Credit Cards? The Final Verdict…
The reality of the situation is this (drum roll, please)… no, it isn’t really something you have to worry about. Most of the quality wallet manufacturers out there utilize magnets that are the perfect strength for keeping your wallet together, but not so strong that they’ll ruin your cards.
Now we’re not going to say that it’s never happened before because somewhere this will have happened, but don’t let it keep you up at night. Especially if your card has a chip instead of a magnetic strip!