Introduction: Pulling the Magnetic Strip Out of American Paper Money

Picture of Pulling the Magnetic Strip Out of American Paper Money

My grandpa taught me how to do this along time ago and I figured because this is the site that is the depository for all how toing knowledge why not add my own weird trick.

Step 1: Locating the Strip

Picture of Locating the Strip

Take American paper currency more than the one (one dollar bills do not contain the magnetic strip) and hold it up to a bright light. I recommend doing this with five because this may make it so that you can't use the bill in a vending machine or at least it will think its a one. I also recommend that you do this with an old bill because it makes extraction easier. When you look through the five you should see a strip of something that has the words USA FIVE written in small black print on it.

Disclaimer: This may be illegal. This is only for informational purposes.

Step 2: Preparing for Extraction

Picture of Preparing for Extraction

Now that you know where the strip is you have to loosen it within the two layers. I do this by folding the bill along the strip. Then hold the fold in between your thumb and pointer finder and role the fold back and forth. If you do this with a new bill you should see a kind of pocket in the shape of the strip forming. You want to do this thoroughly along the whole strip to make sure its completely loose.

The below picture is a side view of the five.

Step 3: Extraction

Picture of Extraction

Now that the strip is completely loose go to the top of the bill and make a very small tear as close to being on top of the strip as possible. The tear should just come to the top of the black line. If the tear was in the proper spot you should be able to work the two layers apart and see the end of the magnetic strip. Now grab the end of the strip and pull it out. If your loosening was done well it should slide right out. You may want to use a forceps for this but it's your choice.

I'm not sure if this is legal. I think it may fall under the defacing of money.
It might also make a vending machine think your fives a one I haven't tried it yet but i think that's how a vending mahcine knows when you give it different bill types.


MLRoy (author)2016-02-20

Just thinking OUT LOUD, but if you wanted to do both: deactivate the strip AND not break the $ law of "spinning & mutilating" paper currency, there must be a way to DEMAGNITIZE that strip. Hold it up to a piece of Kryptonite, uranium, etc. I'm the Idea Person. Where are the tech grunts w/the boring details? ;p

ironsmiter (author)2008-01-04

new vending machine may. sometime in the future, use the strips for Identifying... but very machine I know of currently uses optical clues. The old greenbacks still work just fine, and there's no(well, maybe a little in the ink) metal in them. It probably DOES fall under defacing the money. It Probably is illegal. Fun stuff to know though. Wonder what'd happen if you put that strip from the five into a single? :-)

j626no (author)ironsmiter2008-01-04

everybody thinks that. defacing money is NOT ILLEGAL, unless you plan on distributing it again (which in this case it is illegal because moomoocows talks about putting it into vending machines), but what i was trying to explain is that once you have money, it is literally yours, you purchased it. so toss it in a blender, rip it up, do whatever pleases you with it. thats not illegal. it is only illegal if after doing said actions, you intend on redistruting it. sorry if i seem harsh, i have a headache and am tired and just wanted to vent (LONG MONTH)-- so dont take it personally ironsmiter.

so if i put a dollar in a blender AND intend to redistribute it i am breaking a law, right? suppose the blender was unplugged? in the eyes of the law then, would my intent, or the named blender itself, be branded Quasi-Inert?

Erik Lindemann (author)2008-01-04

Actually, vending machines work mostly on the magnetic ink that is used in bills. I have no idea what this magnetic strip is, or if it is that at all. If you don't mind me asking, but do you think this does anything good at all. Just about every instructable has some redeeming quality, whether illegal or just plain entertaining. This to me has no merit since if that strip is in fact magnetic, it's definitely too weak to use in any other applications.

Actually, vending machines and magneticism have no correlation to each other...vending machines use optics (mostly tiny cameras in certain places) to validate, and determine the worth of the money you put in even if you take the strip out of a $5 bill, it is still useable in the machine because it doesnt read wether or not there is a strip in the currency.

Thats where i got my info from.

auziman (author)Erik Lindemann2008-04-14

the magnetic strip is so you can't counterfeit money

Zargon (author)auziman2008-09-14

Truth be TOLD: The magnetic strip is a RFID and the agents of the imperial US govmt. use it to make sure you are not taking $$$ out of the country or carrying too much, according to them, at any given time. They have hand held and walk thru scanners... think airport here... and can tell from 25' or more how much you have in your pocket as you walk by. Big Brother in action. So, one redeeming quality of this instructable could be, that if you remove all the strips from all of your cash you can carry as much as you want anywhere you want, without being arrested for the innocent act of carrying your own money in your own pocket or bag, or briefcase. :-) Thanks... I think I'll do that to 100 - 100 dollar bills and see if I can get through the airport security ;-D

It may not be useful or helpful but as OniTora said this site is here to tell you how to do things and I did just that.

OniTora (author)Erik Lindemann2008-01-04

Redeeming qualities isn't in the rules. I'm only a casual skimmer, but I thought it was about teaching people how to do things. That's a thing I'm glad I now know how to do. I'm not gonna go do it, but it's cool to know how its done in case I ever need to.

Ease up. _


nnygamer (author)2008-01-04

United States Code
§ 333. Mutilation of national bank obligations

“Whoever mutilates, cuts, defaces, disfigures, or perforates, or
unites or cements together, or does any other thing to any bank bill,
draft, note, or other evidence of debt issued by any national banking
association, or Federal Reserve bank, or the Federal Reserve System,
with intent to render such bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence
of debt unfit to be reissued, shall be fined under this title or
imprisoned not more than six months, or both.”

Read more, make your own judgment if it is illegal to deface US Currency

qubert (author)nnygamer2008-03-24

ill do it I'm canadain _____________ | | /\ | | | | d b | | | | | | | ______________ just kidding , but it really is a criminal offence

A good name (author)qubert2008-03-24

In canada it isn't illegal.

--scare-- (author)A good name2010-01-21

ummm... YES IT IS!!!

you can get fined and jailed for DESTROYING money or THROWING IT AWAY...
(money costs money to be produced!!)
flinging your pennys at strangers is a crime in two ways!!

but only for canadian money!!! we can destroy as much US money as we want!!!
(or from anywhere else than the country we are in) e.g. i can burn anykind of money exept canadian money  o.O

and by the way, a fine policeman warned me once for throwing my change in the street at a pesky hobo LOL!!

sokamiwohali (author)--scare--2011-11-27

not true. it doesnt matter your country of origin, race, or religion, if you deface U.S. money (according to that law nnygamer posted) you can still be fined and jailed if caught.

mocha1315 (author)--scare--2010-02-26

 lol, all the penny pressers (presses a penny in to a oval shape with design on one side)  use American pennys in Canada.
we pay 1 - 2 dollars to crush US money.

--scare-- (author)--scare--2010-01-21

I win the canadian part of the debate... ^.^ YAY

as for the US part, i'll leave you to it (i'm in Montreal) and i dunno any us laws that can apply to me (when i'm in Montreal)

sokamiwohali (author)nnygamer2011-11-27

actually its not illegal. i called someone at the treasury and they told me that as long as someone is not trying to use the money they deface as being re-circulated then its perfectly fine. and if defacing money was so illegal, than someone who went to turn in defaced money to get replaced would get arrested on the spot. not only that but you wouldnt see those souvenir penny presses. Just Saying

Edrainkona is right. If he's not using the money to buy/sell/trade or whatever, it's perfectly fine. And anyways, no one does anything. People accept money with stuff written on it all the time. "...or does any other thing to any bank bill,..." i think this is a thing

edrainkona (author)nnygamer2008-01-14

Its only illegal if you do it for fraudulent intents.

trebuchet03 (author)nnygamer2008-01-09

Yeah, we should totally spend lots of money in searching, litigation, etc. to go after him.... o.0

ckeith2 (author)2011-10-22

lmao, this is to funny who cares if its defacing money our own Government has single handily ruined the value of the American dollar, and they don't get jailed for it!!!

cody777 (author)2010-07-17

imma pull a bunch out and make some sort of bracelet with 'em

moomoocows (author)cody7772010-07-21

That would be awesome, well at least if you make an instructable of it.

tubbychick3n (author)2008-08-27

is it possible that you could maybe tape this to a one dollar bill to trick the vending machines into thinking they're 20s?

qballcat (author)tubbychick3n2009-04-02

but you would already deface a 20 so you gain nothing.....................................................................................i think

tubbychick3n (author)qballcat2009-04-03

Well, i've been able to remove the strip without ruining the dollar. I think i'd still be able to use the twenty.

qballcat (author)tubbychick3n2009-04-03

ok ok i gotcha, i thought u would use BOTH in a vending machine but use the 1$ with a 20 strip in the machine and use the real 20 for real $$$ a bit slow

tubbychick3n (author)qballcat2009-04-07

Nah, don't worry about it. I still wonder if that would work though.

pdub77 (author)tubbychick3n2009-06-24

No, it won't work. Sorry to disappoint. It would also be considered counterfeiting and if the Secret Service happened to catch you it would be a bad day. Remember, increasingly there are cameras everywhere.

here's a link to check out:

creator 1 (author)tubbychick3n2009-05-14

That would be cool, but vending machines don't take anything more than a ten. I think.

That would be really cool

zstamey84 (author)2008-05-29

cool! I tried it on my 10 and it worked perfectly. No real use for it but it was really cool to see the strip come out. It looks like plastic with metal writing.

llondon (author)2008-04-14

Hmm i did it with a fiver of mine, stretched a bit when I pulled it out but still fun to do =). +1

gammatron (author)2008-01-09

I used to do this all the time as a kid. A bit of warning, as already said, the strip isn't magnetic, it's an anti-counterfeit device. If someone looked for it and it wasn't there, you might suddenly find yourself out X amount of money. I usually check for the watermark, myself.

theRIAA (author)2008-01-04

i thought this was very interesting, i never knew there was a literal strip inside bill but i can't get it out without ripping it...

moomoocows (author)theRIAA2008-01-07

Make sure you work the strip area enough to loosen it thoroughly. Then if you are doing it with your fingers you'll have to make a very small rip to get at it.

marc92 (author)2008-01-04

It would be cool to try and extract the small tracking device from a 20 dollar bill. I believe it is under the right eye. Here is the story and here is the metacafe video.

JamesRPatrick (author)marc922008-01-05

Anyone notice how the bills in the first link had burns in the right eye and the bill in the second link burned the left eye?

Vertigo666 (author)2008-01-04

Does anybody know what the deal is with the $50s? I vaguely remember something about bleaching $20s...?

Aar000n3y (author)Vertigo6662008-01-05

I think it was that if you bleach a 20, and print over it, it looks just like a 50 (or a 100, I don't remember). But they're fixing the 20s now.

moomoocows (author)2008-01-04

Good thing I made a disclaimer.

mrbob1000 (author)2008-01-04

its only illegal to modify currency to commit fraud.

adderx99 (author)2008-01-04

actually, defacing money is not illegal, but then the value of the bill is lost. if you then use the bill as a form of payment, that act is illegal. the value may be yours, but the physical bill you hold in your hand belongs to the us government. dont think so? remember what happened with gold currency from the 30s to the mid 70's.

GorillazMiko (author)2008-01-04

Nice, I don't even know you would want to do this, but nice. I always see them hidden in there, cool Instructable.

moomoocows (author)2008-01-04

If anyone has any criticism, legal warnings, fun stories, random conversation starters, or just feel like slamming an instructable please post a comment.

It'd be much easier if you could take some pictures of it..

!Andrew_Modder! (author)2008-01-04

sry but i honestly cant see why you would want to take it out. and also if you put a bill over a black-light, the strip will very clearly show up bright yellow, so that is the best way to find it!

Andrew546 (author)2008-01-04

If you insist... Thats not a magnetic strip. Its a fluorescent security thread, made out of plastic. Vending machines don't use it to identify bills The only way this could cause problems with a vending machine is if the physical damage (rips/creases) cause it to reject the bill. You really should take you own pictures. Stock photos and paint images just don't convey the message well.

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