Introduction: 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)
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.
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.
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!
And there you have it! A card that retains all but its Contactless Payment features.
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I used the method described above by RyanA191 and it works very well. After I cut the track I tried my card at two retailers who have machines that use the PayWave/Contactless feature and neither machine detected my credit card. The beauty of this method is that the card looks unmodified. Thanks so much Ryan and well done.
If your chip looks like this, then no amount of cutting the or drilling holes in the body of the card will disable the Pay Wave/Contactless feature, because the antenna coil does not run around the outside of the card, it is completely contained under this square. However, there is a solution. If you look at where the red arrow is pointing you will see a single "wire" running from the top right of the square back to the chip contacts. This wire connects the outside of the 11 windings of the antenna coil (buried under the chip) back to the chip contacts. Cutting through that "wire" anywhere along its length will disable the contactless feature but leave the chip and pin number functionality intact. Carefully use an Exacto knife (a.k.a Stanley knife, NT cutter, or Boxcutter) to cut the wire (the point where the red arrow indicates is easiest to get at. Use a fresh blade and be careful you don't slice yourself. You may need a magnifying glass and a strong light and some tape to hold the card down. If you can, its best to make two cuts very close together and remove piece between them (see the second photo). I have done this with three cards so far, and it has worked with all of them Good luck!