Don't Want RFID On Your Plastic? Call Your Credit Card Company

There’s all sorts of advice online about how to disable RFID chips and tags, and now that they’re starting to show up uninvited on credit cards, you might be tempted to try some of those tactics. But as a reader found out, many credit card issuers will simply swap out your newfangled RFID-enabled card for a traditional one if you just ask.

Stephen’s card came from Wells Fargo, and he had no trouble getting it replaced:

To do this I called the “800” number on the back of my card. I had to identify myself to an automated system and request the automated system connect me with a banker. When connected with a real person I requested to have a card issues without the Pay Wave feature. Most phone bankers do not know what RFID is. It is best to refer to it by its retail name. The request was taken care of in less than 5 minutes. The current card I have is still valid if I wish to use it. When I receive the new one I can activate it and destroy the old one.

We know that Citibank is also willing to provide non-RFID cards upon request, and this blogger says so is Chase—so if you’re not ready to embrace your RFID future, it’s worth giving your card issuer a call.

(Thanks to Stephen!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. discounteggroll says:

    but drilling it out feels SO much better

  2. Anks329 says:

    how do you know if you have a RFID chip in your card? I recently got a new CitiCard, and I’m not sure if I have one or not.

  3. B says:

    @Anks329: Hold it up to your forehead. If you can hear voices telling you to buy more stuff, it’s got an RFID chip (or there is a TV nearby).

  4. Sidecutter says:

    It’s usually marked somehow. Any kind of indicator that you can pay without swiping it, like by tapping it against or holding it near a sensor is also a dead giveaway. Also, it’ll usually be marked as such a card using their name for the ability, have a small, visible lump in it someplace, or even a fully exposed microchip in a clear area.

  5. timmus says:

    Just send your card to me and I’ll take care of it.

    Behind the Hot Water Pipes
    c/o Third Washroom from the Left
    Victoria Station, London SW1E 5NE

  6. emptydarkone says:

    @B: What if you have your tin foil hat on? Will it still work? I think I’m safe since I have an eel skin wallet wrapped with tin foil.

  7. Walrii says:

    @B: I tried holding it up to my forehead but I didn’t hear anything. Do you think my tinfoil hat is interfering with things?

  8. B says:

    @emptydarkone: @Walrii:
    Well you would need some thing magnetic to block the transmissions. Do you have an iron plate in your head?

  9. MercuryPDX says:

    The ole’ “whack the chip with the hammer” is the safest* way to kill it.

    They can already clone Passports, credit cards are inevitable.

    *barring smashing a finger with a hammer

  10. Chris Walters says:

    @Anks329: If your card has RFID you should have received a lot of printed material with it, “teaching” you how to use it to pay for things and letting you know how to opt out. Also, look for a little chip-like element.

  11. eyesonly says:

    Chase calls the RFID feature “blink,” and the cards have a little icon (supposed to be sound waves?) identifying them as RFID.

    Citi seems to call it “PayPass,” but I’m not sure if they only do RFID in keyfob format or if they put it in conventional cards (like Chase does) as well.

  12. Chris Walters says:

    @eyesonly: Citi puts it on conventional cards now. Mine has one.

  13. chrisbacke says:

    Where do I buy an RFID reader? I’d love to find the Chase’s CEO’s credit card number and have fun with that…

  14. Syrenia says:

    @Anks329: The ones that Citi foisted on me all had “PayPass” printed on the front. It took the better part of four months to get is straightened out. They kept sending me new RFID cards.

    Of course, I suppose that I am just taking their word for it that there’s no RFID in the new ones, but they went back to my old account numbers. They had “upgraded” my accounts, which naturally required new account numbers, but there was no benefit that I could see in the new account type. Apparently certain varieties of their rewards accounts are available only with RFID cards. At least, that’s what the third CSR I spoke with told me. This new one that they put me on was one of those types, so I told them to put me back on my old Dividend cards.

  15. bigboat says:

    Ok I be ignorant, but what is the general complaint with RFID. Too easy to buy something during Harry Potter cosplay?

  16. jamar0303 says:

    @bigboat: It’s not particularly secure as it is. Ideally it should be implemented with more security measures. For example, on Japanese RFID-capable phones you have the option for the phone to prompt you for a PIN when something tries to read data off of it.

  17. the_wiggle says:

    just plain NOT want. not on my ids. not on my debit/credit cards. not on my pet. not on my person.

    why must people persist in making life easy for thieves?

  18. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    I think different card companies use RFID differently. I believe with AMEX, the RFID is a virtual account. You have to put money into it, or set it up to automatically add funds from your main AMEX account or checking account. I don’t recall the exact details; I read it from an AMEX brochure one time.

  19. Trojan69 says:

    Don’t make the mistake of destroying a chip that requires insertion into a reader. These are the safest cards out there. The vast majority of U.S. issuers do not offer these chip cards (with silicon circuitry), but virtually all European issuers do.

    Just be sure that you are, in fact, dealing with an RFID chip if you want to disable it.

  20. jamar0303 says:

    @the_wiggle: Why would it make life easy for thieves? Decent security is easy to do.

  21. aikoto says:

    @B: Lol. You’re my hero.

  22. aikoto says:

    @bigboat: What’s wrong with RFID answer:


  23. Barbarisater says:

    @Mercurypdx: OK I just tried the hammer and smashed my finger. You are now on my “to sue” list.

    @eyesonly: Perhaps those are “RF” waves, maybe, possibly, hmmmm

  24. GC says:

    If you’re that afraid of RFID, you can always just wrap your card in aluminum foil. While you’re at it, why not make yourself a new fancy hat? One also made of aluminum foil. Don’t forget to wrap your entire head. You don’t want to let any of the government brain rays into your head. You can also cover your eyes with it so that you don’t have to see the future coming until it kicks you upside your damn fool head.

    Protip, folks. These kinds of RFID chips don’t just blast your credit card out upon request to just any ol’ sweetheart with a few electrons to spare.

  25. Itch says:

    I’ll admit I’m one of those that would rather not have RFID in a card. And being that I worked for a company that made them, I’ve seen the stories coming out of asia about CC number theft. One of the benefits of company focused tech rags.

    There are 2 primary thoughts on the “safety” of the product. Range of sensitivity and encryption of the info.

    I’ll agree that most people seem to over exaggerate the fear into instant theft and use. And the encryption is there to prevent that. On the other hand think about this. All they need is a copy of that encrypted packet. Then they can take all the time they need to decrypt it. It’s what happens in most bank security issues or other privacy breaches.

  26. Itch says:

    The second is the limited range. Well if you remember the bluetooth “gun” that was able to extend the range up to something like 1/4 or .5 miles? And that was reduced down to something even smaller.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not technophobic. But what I would want is something that requires action from me. A form of active acceptance, not passive. While it would not prevent theft or charges necessarily it would be similar to a physical act of a signature.

  27. AmEx will deactivate the RFID # in your account (the RFID # is different than the CC# in the raised type and on the magnetic strip) so if anyone tries to use the RFID, it shows up as fraud in their system immediately.

  28. viriiman says:

    @timmus: I have to applaud you on the Monty Python reference to the show (I believe) “Blackmail”

  29. theblackdog says:

    My old card is about to expire, let’s see if Compass Bank gives me one of the chipped cards. I will be disabling it immediately.

  30. winnabago says:

    1-2 seconds in the microwave on high makes a nice big spark and a pop, make sure it is in something non-flammable and that you don’t care too much about the microwave you’re using. Oh yeah, and have a fire extinguisher handy. Speaking from experience, of course.

  31. azntg says:

    Wow, I didn’t realize in how many places RFID chips were placed until I just thought about it now.

    Right now, I count 2 cards in my wallet that’s RFID tagged. Sometime this summer, when my debit card expires, the count will go up to 3. And, if I continue my routine of visiting a college in Boston this winter, it’ll be 5. Maybe 6 if I go for another credit card.

    Am I crazy enough to have a Faraday caged wallet? Hell yes!

  32. winnabago says:

    Might also kill the mag stripe, not sure.

  33. vladthepaler says:

    “How do I know if my card has this?” is a good question… and one that can be asked more generally: how do I know if this thing I just bought has RFID? Is there, seriously, an RFID detector/disabler that one can buy? Guessing where inside a credit card it might be and drilling holes seems sort of primative…

  34. missbheave (is not convinced) says:

    @Itch: so the fear is that someone can get your credit card info just by zapping it while standing next to you? Or something else?

    Citibank sent me a paypass keychain as part of the NYC subway trial (to move to a similar debit system instead of metro cards) and I loved it. I still use the paypass on the key chain, but I never thought about someone being able to lift my debit card info from it. I was worried about losing it somehow and someone going on a spending spree, but you can only charge $150 a day to it, and Citibank protects the account up to $150 a day so you’d get it all back.

  35. rolla says:

    @discounteggroll: yes, yes it does…

  36. Buran says:

    @timmus: What about The Cupboard Under the Stairs?

  37. brokeincollege says:

    Amex calls it ExpressPay.

  38. Xeracy says:

    awwww… i was looking forward to smashing my CC w/ a hammer, but i guess the phone call works just as well…