Disabling Contactless Payment on Debit Cards

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Intro: Disabling Contactless Payment on Debit Cards

Contactless payment is a relatively new feature in debit cards that allows you to make payments for small purchases quickly and wirelessly over a short distance without having to enter your pin.

When my old debit card expired and a new one was sent, it came with this new feature. I wanted a way to disable it since each time I was scanning my RFID access card in my wallet, the detectors at work were picking up the debit card too. They'd beep twice and sometimes get confused. Not only this, but while my bank promises it's secure, I'd rather not have a feature I don't intend to use on the off-chance that it's not.

Existing articles I found when looking for a way to disable it guess at the location or infer it by cutting apart other contactless bank cards. Since I have access to a micro-CT scanner at the University of Huddersfield Centre for Precision Technologies, I thought I'd put my card in the machine, take a 2d xray still and allow myself to find the quickest and easiest way to disable it.

The above image is a a screen grab from the Xray preview of a Nikon micro-CT scanner. The low resolution is due to it being a live view image. When in operation the micro-CT scanner is capable of a resolution of several microns.

Step 1: How Contactless Payment Works

Contactless payment works using RFID technology. A chip inside the card is powered when the card comes into close proximity to an RFID card reader. The signal emitted from the reader powers the chip though use of the embedded antenna. If this antenna is cut there will be no power to the chip and so when the card is held close to a reader the debit card won't reply.

By making cuts in the card where we know the antenna is, we can disable the wireless payment features.

Step 2: How to Disable It on Your Card

Make a cut 5 mm deep anywhere around the debit card or snip off a corner. This will break the antenna path and stop power to the chip when held near a reader.

That's it. Easy!

5 People Made This Project!

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34 Discussions

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keekee38

4 months ago on Step 1

hi how I use that card my first time

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AlexanderJ51

Tip 8 months ago on Step 2

I'm not sure if all cards have the same antenna design, my cards seemed different but not sure. however, I was able to look through the card using a bright flashlight in a dark room & identify the Antenna location that way.

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Zeugma-fr

4 years ago on Introduction

There is an other method, which is non-destructive.

You just have to add a small square (1cm x 1cm) of self-adhesive copper sticker on the back of the card.

Depending on where you put this copper, you will have 2 possibilities.

If you put it somewhere on the zone where the 3 spires are visible in your pic, you will scramble the RFID communication => no more communication.

If you put it in the big white zone, outside the 3 spires of the top, but inside the big spire, without covering it, you will change the antenna tuning, meaning the card will need to be closer (it need more power) to the reader to work.

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tchernuttsZeugma-fr

Reply 9 months ago

Good idea but if the copper tape is effective how come the magnetic stripe which also crosses the wires doesn't interfere with them?

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tchernutts

9 months ago

I can see the wires just by looking very closely at the front of the card, with no light shining through. A dark blue 'Nationwide' card. Suggests the wires may be much nearer to the front surface so a shallow cut on that side might be enough.?Easier to spot the wires in the lighter coloured writing though, then just follow the lines from there.

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WhoM4

1 year ago

I cannot use the LED shine through as the card in black plastic! So I am hoping that taking Jayefuu's advice I could still make a 5mm cut on the bottom edge near the corner and that will kill the antenna? Can anyone confirm this for me please? Thanks

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WhoM4

1 year ago

Hi Folks,

As my 'contactless' card is black the high intensity LED light will not shine through to show me where the antenna wires are, so as the wire will no doubt be around the outer edge of the card, could I with a large degree of certainty make the 5mm cut suggested by Jayefuu and stop it operating?

A conversation with the card provider today has made it clear that they and mastercard will not be offering a choice of non contacless or contactless cards in the near future.

While with Visa and your respective bank you do have this option and so can remain just chip and pin.

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marcwilson

3 years ago on Introduction

I like the idea of a button on the card. Until then, I just keep mine in an aluminium wallet. :)

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KathleenR21marcwilson

Reply 2 years ago

I kept mine in an aluminum wallet, but it got hacked when I had to take it out of the wallet to make a purchase. I don't think there was anyone behind me in line but I had to hand it to the cashier and she had it behind the register where I couldn't see. Later that afternoon the fraud charges started coming in.

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DavidJ198

2 years ago

I hate this damn chip !! Some stores require the chip being used if the card has one. And the card stays in the machine, I am disabled, and have a bad memory... Gonna cut the chip out !!!

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MikeP158DavidJ198

Reply 2 years ago

Uh the magstripe on your card will tell the reader you still have a chip so good luck with that!

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DaleD16

2 years ago

Honestly what is the point in disabling it? In the unlikely event that you're scammed the bank will refund the loss anyway. I think what people should be worrying about is the fact that the currency (GBP, USD EURO, all of them) is backed by nothing and is debt based. All credit is loaned into existence, savings are multiplied 10's and 100's of times over with a magic trick called fractional reserve lending (Google it I'm not making this up).

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MODDEDbyBACTERIA

2 years ago

Did some Googling, appears that different cards have their antennas in different places on the card, also the above only works for cards with magnetic stripe apparently not a dummy strip printed in its place as the antenna is apparently integral to the chip. Those two things I read anyway, care to comment on the accuracy please of the two comments? Also read if you have more than one contactless card in your wallet that places like the London Tube, etc will remove funds from all of your contactless cards at the same time - true?

Best to get RFID blocking wallet I guess.

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mikesmithfl

3 years ago on Introduction

I found that if I crushed the area with the chip in vice-grips, I could bend the card slightly and remove the chip from the front of the card. It left a vacant spot with the color of the back layer coming through. It looks better that way! :)

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mikesmithfl

3 years ago on Introduction

I found that if I crushed the area with the chip in vice-grips, I could bend the card slightly and remove the chip from the front of the card. It left a vacant spot with the color of the back layer coming through. It looks better that way! :)

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leo00

3 years ago on Introduction

Thanks for the info.

I just received my new company card and it has this amazing feature.

The issuing bank says I can't opt out.

I relied on the shape of the chip to be reasonably sure that the card was the same of your x-rayed picture, and made a horizontal cut just between the magnetic strip and the signature field.

Luckily with one cut I broke the coil in 4 points.

My cut is about 1 cm long, however I've seen that the 4 wires are within 6 mm from the right edge, so a shorter cut would have done the trick.

I used a simple pair of scissors in order to get a neat cut. Actually, you have to closely look at the card to see the cut.

I'm not sure if the wires' ends on the two sides of the cut can still contact in some way, I'll check as soon as I can, and if yes I think I'll try to "micro-dig" in the card in order to rip off the wires and prevent them from still making contact.

I really hope that the bank acts as described in a comment, considers the card as damaged and and starts sending me boxes of replacements :) sooner or later they will ask why, and I'll be more than happy to say that I opted out on my own.

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tofugami

4 years ago

Interesting solution to a technology driven problem. Were you able to confirm card is still usable?

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GiliusJayefuu

Reply 4 years ago

Does the chip still work? I live in europe and the chip is critical because all the retailers use it.