Introduction: How to Disable 'Contactless Payment' on Your Debit Card

Picture of How to Disable 'Contactless Payment' on Your Debit Card

Call me old fashioned, but in my eyes having something in your back-burner that opens up new potential to being stolen from doesn't really fill me with confidence. This, twinned with recent media reports of duplicate (or more) payment processing for single purchases only adds to my initial pessimism of whether it's really worth the risk for saving what is essentially a few seconds at the check out.

So when my new debit card arrived I was frustrated to say the least when I noticed the Contactless Payment feature symbol -- something I was told I couldn't opt out of and get a card without.

In response, I decided to make an Instructable showing how I quickly and easily disabled the Contactless Payment feature in my debit card.

Please note that this is not reversible.

Step 1: Requirements

- Your Debit Card!
- Soldering iron (Yes, I know it's a sin to use it like this...)
- Exacto-knife or scalpel
- Pen (optional)

Step 2:

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The Contactless Payment function of the card relies pivotally on its antennae. This is simply a repeated loop of insulated (usually via a thin layer of lacquer) copper wire. I won't go into the fundamentals of how this clever yet simply technology works as there are countless references to be found, but in short if you introduce a break in the circuit between the chip and the antennae in your card, the Contactless Payment feature will be disabled.

I was able to get a good idea of where the antennae for my card started/finished by taking a close look at the edges of the chip. On close inspection I could see brass coloured flanges on the left and right of the chip -- something that was absent from my last card which did not have the new feature. These flanges, or 'tabs', looked like a safe bet for where the antennae should extend from.

Step 3:

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Once you have determined where the antennae is connected to your chip you can sever it. I decided to sever both sides to ensure that I 'got' everything, though in theory a single break in the antennae should suffice. To do this I simply used my soldering iron to create two sections either side of the chip.

While I did this I noticed that I was also melting my way through metal elements (the antennae) as well as plastic. This was reassuring as it confirmed I had found the right area(s).

You'll note from the picture that two brass tabs can be seen from which the antennae winding/loop was connected.

Step 4:

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Left as it is the card will most likely get stuck in the ATM, so using your choice of sharp knife -- either an exacto-knife or scalpel for example, trim the scar plastic from around the melted areas. I know it may seem obvious but take care. I slipped twice but luckily just had two near misses.

Step 5: Finished!

Picture of Finished!

And there you have it! A card that retains all but its Contactless Payment features.


goalsandgamesx (author)2017-10-06

hahaha well done, brute force! :P

PaulK280 (author)2017-07-23

Phrases including sledgehammer and nut come to mind :) shine your phone's led light thru the card to find the antenna then use a paper punch (used for paper filing) to make a neat hole in card. Job done.

KevinD145 (author)2016-03-30

I got a contactless card from Santander and I went to the branch and asked them to send me a non contactless card and it arrived in a couple of days.

kloopk made it! (author)2016-02-23

Got my first contactless card today )Halifax), took only a moment with 10watt torch to find where 3 fine wires where with torch and drilled a small 1.5mm hole. confirmed it worked with a phone nfc reader before mod and after it no longer reads it :)..

EdmondC (author)2016-01-06

Anyone who would like to follow this guideline should remember that this action may cause your card voided and confiscated by the merchant at instruction of card issuing bank because the card is tampered with.

RobertoR37 (author)2015-11-27

If you don't want your card to be copied in the subway, but don't want to take any risk trying to disable it, an option is to wrap the card into aluminium foil. Just put the foil in both sides of the card (in fact covering one side is enoguh), and put it into your wallet. Make sure that the foil remains inside the wallet when you extract the card.

And additional benefit is that card won't interfere with your transport card any longer

bobsmith652 made it! (author)2015-07-22

If you catch it right in the light, you can see the antenna path, as
shown with the purple arrow. Here I used a 2mm drill bit for a neater
finish. It also has no risk of jamming up in an ATM.

HSBC UK will replace the card. They ignored my first request through
online banking, and I told them I was going to modify it myself if they

mtbsoft (author)2015-03-12

A small (1mm) hole drilled from the back in the right spot is all it takes - on my AE it was the bottom edge, though I found the top right corner of the card to be more reliable on other cards. Break one wire of the antenna and the induction cannot work. Tap and Go(ne).

Jean31 (author)2014-10-26

You can test your debit card with this Android app. (

Loda103 (author)2014-09-03

I found an easier way:

With regular cissor, cut 5-7 mm into the card from the right edge (opposite of the chip), just under the magnetic band.

(I added a paper in the cut, so you can see it on the picture.)

My card is a mastercard debit card issue by ING Direct Spain.

This is cleaner, and your card will not stay stuck in machine (the cut being made on the edge that enter last the card reader).

I8mAll (author)2014-01-02

Don't trust any of the platitudes from the banks. When they say it's "100% safe" they mean they will refund payments you show to be wrong or fraudulent. That's not the same as safe! You have to find it and prove it. They blame customers for standing too close to the reader and such. Bottom line is they are easy to read, no decryption needed and hence a doddle to clone. Find the coil and split any track - then you're safe.

I8mAll (author)2014-01-02

I'm glad you're there trying to combat this madness. As it stands it is very easy to brush against someone and read a card, the 5cm spec is for legit readers. They work by powering your card via the large coil in the card, just like a toothbrush charger - no contacts. Once powered they chat via radio and card is told to disclose your number.
A tidier way to kill them is to use a small drill to break one strand of the coil - no coil means no power and no keeps the card silent.

ameentj (author)2013-11-05

If you have an Android phone around, you can download the Triangle Scanner app ( to test whether the card is still active after disabling it. 

arkangel1975 (author)2013-09-23

this works, but the best way is to microwave the card for 5 seconds (works for passports too)

RandomIdeaMan (author)2013-09-16

If you need to locate the antenna in the card hold it in front of a bright light, you can see all the workings inside the card that way. Also many bank cards have thin antenna wires running around the card, these can easily (and more elegantly) disabled by drilling through the wire, requiring only a 1 or 2mm hole, rather than opening a big hole in your card.
I have seen it work with small holes drilled on many different cards.

I work in a petrol station and have suggested this to many people who are concerned about the security of their new card (no Australian bank gives the choice to opt-out). Having said all of that, the number of cards where the contactless functionality doesn't work (due to poor manufacturing) if remarkably high!

NTT (author)RandomIdeaMan2013-09-16

Good call, but I tried holding it up to a light (halogen in fact), and I couldn't see sh#t. Admittedly, a couple of small diameter holes would have looked a lot better, but this was really just a quick and definitely rough hack.

AndyGadget (author)2013-09-16

From the Barclaycard FAQ :-

If my Barclaycard is lost or stolen, can the person that finds it use it for contactless payments?
Your security is our top priority so we use some of the most advanced technology to protect your contactless payments. If your card is lost or stolen you're 100% protected against fraudulent activity on your account.

That's a NO then #;¬)

No such strips on my contactless card, but when these appeared I was given the choice of opting out of the scheme, so any contactless payments appearing on my account are definitely fraudulent.

One of the local authorities in the UK was finding a high failure rate on it's contactless pensioners' bus passes.  On investigation they found the cards were just slightly too big to fit into a standard purse / wallet card holder so they were cutting a thin slice off the edge of the card.  And the antenna was . . . 

carlos66ba (author)2013-09-15

wouldn't it be easier and less conspicuous to just make a cut to left and right of the chip?

NTT (author)carlos66ba2013-09-15

I did think of doing that, but seeing my soldering iron on the desk in front of me I thought I'd go for the easier and vastly quicker option. You are right though -- a cut would most likely give a better finish.

carlos66ba (author)NTT2013-09-15

Thanks for the reply. I had forgotten to say: it is a great idea! Hate all these wireless stuff on which you have no control...

mister.ollie (author)2013-09-15

I'm glad I'm not the only one paranoid. I took a hole punch and took out the chip the old fashioned way.

HelmutHound (author)2013-09-15

But . . . If you break it like this, how will your elected representative be able to take money out of your account when you visit their offices? Or clerks who wish to double bill you for a purchase! You sir. Are cruel. (and I am being sarcastic lol).
On another note, nice ible! Have you tried inducing a current through it to test it out yet? We don't have these where I am, but I am curious of the range those little bits can get

NTT (author)2013-09-15

I take your point, however, having tried to get a new card without the contactless payment feature I was told it was not an option and that using it was my choice. Also, there's nothing to really see when you use it for chip and pin as the chip is completely engulfed in the reader. I've had no problems so far, but you make an interesting point :-)

ben7798 (author)2013-09-15

Nice idea and very thorough instructable but I think it might just be better to call your bank and ask for a replacement without contactless features. I know a lot of retailers who probably wouldn't want to accept a card that has been tampered with like this and it would be a shame to wind up getting your purchase turned down or even worse your card confiscated by a clerk who was just thinking they were preventing fraud. I've had issues in stores before just because I hadn't signed the back of my new card yet, I can only imagine trying to use a card that had been melted open and cut.

About This Instructable




Bio: Teacher of Science and engineer
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