Why Do Credit Cards Get Demagnetized

Credit cards have a magnetic strip on their reverse side which contains information about the card and card holder. The two crucial parts of a credit card are: information embossed on the front of the card and the information encoded in the magnetic strip on the back of the card. They contain the same information. When a card is to be destroyed by the user, he or she has to destroy both the sources of information. If the strip at the back is demagnetized, the card becomes useless in a card reader no matter whether it is still valid or not. It can be demagnetized with ease as there are a number of objects which can demagnetize a credit card.

The reason behind the credit cards being demagnetized is related with the electrons and magnets. As the information in the data strip is magnetic, it is susceptible to anything else which is magnetic. This is because it comes in contact with a magnetic field and due to that all the information is erased as all the iron particles are realigned. The objects which can be used for this purpose can be some security screening machines or even more small magnets like those used on the fridge. Some other objects such as speakers, cell phones etc… can also demagnetize a credit card. Some credit cards can only be demagnetized by strong electrical charges, which can potentially reverse the polarity of the iron particles.

If a credit card is handled with care, it should not become demagnetized, and if the credit card does get demagnetized, it will need to be replaced by the card issuer. The user can take some precautions to handle his or her card with card. For example – If a user is to use a credit card, he or she can ask for a manual entry (having the cashier key digits on the front of the card into the card reader, along with its expiration date) as the same information will get transferred to the processing company and it will process as if it were captured by the mag stripe. If this option is not available then the cashier can directly call the company that processes the transactions of that particular store, where the user wants to use credit card. The company then processes the payment on the behalf of that particular merchant.

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