Can Airport Screening Machines Damage Your Credit Cards?


Can Airport Screening Machines Damage Your Credit Cards

Since the Twin Towers were attacked on 9/11 policies and regulations at airports and within airlines have become more stringent. Most people travel with credit cards and very few countries frown on possessing or using credit cards. Airport security has no problem with you taking credit cards through the airport, but there are other things to be concerned about.

Things to be concerned about include the possibility that airport screening machines damage your credit cards. Some passengers have concerns about passing through metal detectors or with the x-ray luggage screening machines. There are concerns that airport screening machines damage your credit cards. The biggest concern is the demagnetization of the magnetic stripe on the credit card.

For the most part, the airport screening machines will not damage your credit cards. However, there are precautions that should be taken. There are also certain procedures that airport security has in place in regard to the handling of credit cards. The elite credit cards made of metal can set off airport metal detectors.

Airport Metal Detectors Versus X-Ray Screening Machines

Metal detectors can damage credit cards and certain types of electronics or storage devices. As for X-Ray screeners, they are a type of electromagnetic radiation, but they are similar to visible light, just with a higher frequency and a higher power level.

So, during the screening process before going through a metal detector always remove your wallet, phone, and any other items that are susceptible to damage from magnetism. That’s why the procedure is to put those items in a container and pass them through the X-Ray machine.

X-Rays have photons with enough energy that they can move electrons around within an atom. This can be harmful to the tissues and cells in our body by damaging cell DNA. There should be very little concern that X-rays will damage your credit cards of electronics.


If you have ever tried to use one of your credit cards and it just stopped working many thoughts go through your mind. Did I make my Payment? Am I over my credit line? Did the bank shut it off for fraudulent activity? None of those are the case. so why is it not working?

It’s possible your card was damaged due to demagnetization. The information that is encoded on the magnetic stripe can be erased by close contact with any magnetic source. Often we don’t think about taking precautions. Security devices like the one used to disable security devices on some expensive items like fur coats can demagnetize your credit card.

Different types of magnets can damage your credit card. Also, static electricity generated when the credit card stripe is scratched by a metal object can damage it. I have a few credit cards that I only use for online purchases so I intentionally demagnetized the strips on them by rubbing a magnet across the strip.

By always using credit cards that have chips in them, known as E.M.V. cards, there is no risk of demagnetization. They are also more secure to use. EMV® stands for Europay, MasterCard, and Visa. The standard was created by those three companies. However, E.V.M. cards still require special care.

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Is carrying cash a better option when traveling through airports?

It’s never a good idea to travel with large sums of cash. There’s the risk of losing it or having it stolen from you. There’s also a risk of personal injury when approached by a desperate thief. It is a good idea to carry a modest amount of cash when traveling to be ready for the unexpected. Definitely do not carry large amounts of cash when traveling by commercial airline.

International airports are a mecca for drug smugglers and money launderers. Airport security is on constant watch for large sums of money. They are trained to spot a bundle of money as it passes through a luggage screening machine. It’s better to carry credit cards and take precautions so that the airport screening machines don’t damage your credit cards.

During airport visits, you are under the jurisdiction of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). They do not have to have probable cause to search your luggage or your person. They justify the searches by conducting airport safety and security procedures.

Recently, The Buffalo News obtained some internal reports connected to Buffalo Niagara International Airport. According to the internal reports, more than $860,000 was seized by the airport police and federal agents during the past four years. That’s an average of more than $17,000 a month.

The job of the TSA screeners is to spot and seize things that might threaten the safety of the airlines and passengers. But what happens is when the screeners find large amounts of cash they report it to their supervisors who in turn contact transit authority police, who in turn find a way to get the federal agencies like the DEA or FBI involved. The feds seize the cash many times when there are no charges filed.

There have been people that were legitimately carrying cash through airports on their way to make a large purchase, like a car. The money was seized because the drug dogs alerted on the money, so the feds just say it’s drug money. It becomes evidence and is rarely returned to the innocent traveler. In situations like that, it is best to carry cashier checks or do your banking in the city where you are going to make the purchase.

There is no law about carrying large amounts of cash when flying between cities in the United States yet the number of times cash is seized without being tied to a crime is overwhelming. There are ways to go through proceedings and get the money returned, but it doesn’t make sense to pay a lawyer $15,000 to retrieve $10,000.

Can Credits Cards Be Scanned While in Your Wallet

Although criminals that use pic-pocketing techniques to get their hands on your credit cards are a threat, there are other types of criminals to be aware of. When you notice an unauthorized charge on your credit card statement and you know your card did not get stolen, you think to yourself, how did the criminal get your card number to create fraud.

There are many techniques criminals use to get your financial information. Sometimes your banking information is part of a data breach within a corporate setting and then your information ends up for sale on the “Dark Web”. The types of fraud that are also a concern today are what they call skimming and scanning. When this happens it can be a lot worse than having airport screening machines damage your credit card.


Criminals have been using skimming techniques for decades. It still is being used widely as a way to commit credit card fraud. The process involves installing equipment at a legitimate point-of-sale (POS) terminal that can read the sensitive information coded in the card. Often there is something, or someone, watching and recording PIN numbers.

Sometimes these skimming devices are installed by an associate or employee within a retail establishment. Outside criminals also install these types of devices without the knowledge of the establishment owner. Once the information is obtained (stolen) then fake cards can be made and the shopping spree is on.


Scanning is another method of obtaining personal information related to your credit card accounts. It involves the cards that are chipped (E.V.M. cards) as discussed earlier. Although the information that can be scanned off these chipped cards is encrypted there have been verified cases where information like name and address was retrieved.

The signal radiated by these cards can be read by Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) readers. These readers are easy to make and are readily available in the market. These readers can easily pick up the signal from ten feet away.

Yes, it is possible that airport screening machines damage your credit cards but precautions can be taken to prevent it. there are many more threats and possible scenarios that can happen when traveling that are much worse. It is each person’s responsibility to be aware of their environment and protect their personal space.

Read more: Safety Tips When Traveling the Globe

Read more: Don’t Become a Victim of Cybercrime – Read This!

Read more: Don’t Fall Victim to Identity Theft

Read more: Secure Online Payment Methods You Should Use

Read more: How to Create a Strong Password for Online Banking

Featured image by Macrovector

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