If you follow our blog regularly, you’re in a pretty good position when it comes to understanding the fundamentals of managing your money through debit. And while it’s our mission to explain the basics, we also enjoy introducing you to facets about debit you might not have encountered or even heard of before.
For example, did you know it’s possible to have trouble with your debit card at a point-of-sale location even if there are funds to cover the purchase? It’s rare, but if it happens, you could be dealing with a case of debit card demagnetization.
You might not know that the magnetic strip on the back of your debit card is where your card’s data is stored. This strip allows merchants to access your financial data by swiping the magnetic strip through its swipe card reader, which delivers the appropriate information needed to validate your purchase. This information stored in your debit card’s magnetic strip can become lost or corrupt if your card comes into close or prolonged contact with a magnetic object. The result? A potentially awkward situation at the checkout counter when your card is declined! Not to fear. There are things you can do to avoid the demagnetization of your debit card.
To begin, avoid situations in which your card is likely to be exposed to magnetic surfaces while you’re using it. For example, if your card is on the counter while a cashier demagnetizes the security device on a new CD or piece of clothing, the strip can become demagnetized. To be safe, avoid resting your debit card on any checkout counter while completing your purchase.
You should also consider the environment in which you store your card. Is your debit card kept in a wallet with a magnetic clasp? Depending on the strength of the magnet and the directness of the exposure, your card’s magnetic strip could become vulnerable. Other household items like refrigerator magnets or magnets on the backs of tape measures and flashlights should be kept away from your debit card as well.
If your card does become demagnetized, there is no way to restore the data. The best course of action is to contact your financial institution and have them send you a new card. Remember, it is still important to dispose of your card properly. Until you call your financial institution, your card will still work for online purchases – it’s just the magnetic strip that’s faulty. So be sure to cut up the card before disposing of it.