Credit Card Not Working? Lick It (Seriously)

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A few weeks back I ran across an article on The Consumerist suggesting that if you’re having trouble getting your credit card to swipe, you should lick it. As crazy as this sounds, I had an opportunity to try it out this morning, and guess what? It worked!

On my way to work, I stopped off to fill my gas tank. As usual, I whipped out my Amex Blue Cash rewards card so I could get a tasty 5% discount. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get it to swipe properly. Instead, I got a “CARD READ ERROR” message every time I tried. Rather than giving up and swiping my Chase Freedom rewards card, which tops out at 3% rewards, I decided to press on.

While rubbing the magnetic strip with a plastic grocery bag sometimes does the trick, there weren’t have any bags laying. Thus, I licked my finger, ran it down the magnetic strip, and then tried swiping my card. Bingo! It worked perfectly.

So… Next time you can’t get your card to swipe, try lubing it up with a bit’o’saliva.

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Comments (scroll down to add your own):

  1. I have used the plastic bag trick before (I worked in retail and it always worked) but licking it? ewwww. :-)

    At least you licked your finger…but some people will lick the card.

    Comment by Lulugal11 — May 19th 2008 @ 6:38 pm
  2. It’s not the card or the magnetic stripe, its a dirty magnetic stripe reader (MSR) in the equipment. Over time dirt, dust and debris build up within the credit card reader the same way dirt and dust would accumulate on your counter top, if not cleaned the dirty card reader will malfunction. Licking the card or using a plastic bag is a temporary fix to clean the MSR head. The proper solution is to have the cashier use a presaturated, disposable cleaning card. Learn more at http://www.cleaningcard.com.

    Comment by Jeff — Jun 29th 2012 @ 10:16 am

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