Do Credit Cards Work After Getting Wet?

Discover what to do with your damaged credit card, including cards with chips and magnetic strips that get wet.

A 2016 TSYS U.S. Consumer Payment Study revealed that credit cards now replace debit cards as the preferred method of payment in America. In fact, consumers relying on credit and debit cards combined encompassed 75 percent of those surveyed, with only 11 percent opting to pay for purchases with cash, according to the study. With so many people taking advantage of the convenience that credit cards offer for their daily spending, it’s only a matter of time before one of those cards comes into contact with water. Here’s what to do when your credit card has been compromised.

Related: Choose the Right Credit Card for You

Will a Credit Card Still Work After It Gets Wet?

When you think you’ve ruined your credit card, it helps to know how your credit card works, including that it’s designed to withstand pretty harsh daily use. You might get your credit card wet if:

  • The credit card went through the washing machine
  • You dropped the credit card in a puddle of water
  • A drink spilled onto the credit card
  • Your wallet fell in a lake or the ocean
  • You were soaked in a rainstorm

You don’t need to panic if any of those incidents occur, as the water itself will not affect your credit card. This is also true for a credit card with chip or magnetic strip. Although the chip and magnetic strip are responsible for storing your personal data so that purchases can be made in stores, they are water-resistant and won’t be damaged by moisture.

Related: How to Cancel a Credit Card Without Hurting Your Credit Score 

Best Way to Dry Out Your Credit Card

As soon as you realize your Visa or MasterCard credit card — or any other credit card has gotten wet — you’ll want to begin to dry it out. Begin by shaking off the excess moisture from the card before patting it dry with a paper towel.

If the card was wet for an extended period of time, you can also use the rice trick:

  • Fill a plastic, sealable bag with rice and insert your card in the center of it.
  • Set the bag aside for a day or two so the rice has time to absorb all of the moisture.

Learn: 7 Ways to Protect Yourself From Credit Card Fraud at Gas Stations

What to Do With a Broken Credit Card

Do credit cards work after being washed? Usually, yes. But do credit cards work after being dried? That’s a different problem. Credit card magnetic strip damage happens when the card has gone from the washer to the dryer, for example. The heat from the dryer, as well as the constant tumbling, can leave the card bent or warped. If this happens to your card, the only remedy is to contact the credit card issuer and request a new card.

Even though your credit card won’t be destroyed by water, it’s still best to store your card in a safe, dry place. Taking proper measures to protect the card will ensure it stays in pristine condition until its expiration date.

Up Next: See If You Might Accidentally Be Committing Credit Card Fraud