Jump to content
  • entries
  • comments
  • views

Credit Card Physics



My weekends are usually spent working at Wegmans where people most often pay using a credit card. The new chip readers don’t always work and people always wish they could just go back to the old method of swiping. Interestingly enough, there is a significant amount of physics behind the simple swipe payment that I thought it might be interesting to explore.

To get a basic understanding of how a credit card works, you can think of the black strip on the back of the card as a strip of magnets placed in a specific pattern. When you swipe the card, the credit card machine’s coil of wires causes a change in the magnetic field. This is called electromagnetic induction. The change in magnetic field induces a voltage that creates a current that is used to signal your account information to the machine.

I never knew that all of this went on when someone swiped their card at Wegmans! I hope to learn more about this in the future when we start learning electricity and magnetism. For a more in-depth explanation of how a credit card works, visit this website: http://pages.vassar.edu/ltt/?p=965


Recommended Comments

There are no comments to display.

Add a comment...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...