How to Disable 'Contactless Payment' on Your Debit Card

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About: Teacher of Science and engineer

Intro: 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:

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:

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:

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.

2 People Made This Project!

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25 Discussions

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Dougal32

Tip 5 months ago

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.

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RyanA191

Tip 7 months ago

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!

2018-03-09 23.54.38.jpg2018-03-10 00.12.55.jpg
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KevinG287

7 months ago on Step 4

basically I did what Loda 103 says and it works. just make a 1 cm cut in between signature stripe and magnetic stripe towards the chip.

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goalsandgamesx

1 year ago

hahaha well done, brute force! :P

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PaulK280

1 year ago

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.

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KevinD145

2 years ago

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.

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EdmondC

2 years ago

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.

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RobertoR37

2 years ago

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

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mtbsoft

3 years ago on Step 5

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).

tap and gone.png
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Jean31

3 years ago on Introduction

You can test your debit card with this Android app. (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.github.devnied.emvnfccard)

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Loda103

4 years ago on Introduction

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).

20140903_200733-picsay.jpg
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I8mAll

4 years ago on Introduction

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.

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I8mAll

4 years ago on Step 4

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.

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arkangel1975

5 years ago on Introduction

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

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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!

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NTTRandomIdeaMan

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

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.

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AndyGadget

5 years ago on Introduction

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 . . . 

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carlos66ba

5 years ago

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

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NTTcarlos66ba

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

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.