If I use a credit card only for chip&pin/EMV transactions and possibly for contactless transactions, I don't need the following parts of the card.

  • magnetic stripe
  • embossed numbers etc
  • signature strip
  • CSC/CCV number

The vendor never really look at your card in these circumstances.

Obviously this will cause some difficulty in physical shops in non-chip & pin countries, but I could probably use a disposable pre-paid card or one-time numbers when travelling in those countries.

Apart from legal issues (the bank owns the card and I am proposing to mutilate their property) Is there any reason I shouldn't mechanically remove the stripe, embossing, signature and CSC to improve security?

Related questions

  • 1
    Heck, why not cut out the chip and re-mount it on something more convenient like a key fob? Will that increase security? Yes, it reduces the threat surface, as you suspect.
    – schroeder
    Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 15:28

2 Answers 2


The signature line matters, even for chip and pin. Chip and Pin verifies the card is present, it doesn't verify the authorized user is. The point of the signature line is to verify you are actually you, even if very few people actually check this properly. I actually leave my card unsigned to see if people properly ask for ID. I've only ever been asked for ID about 3 places.

Removing the visible credit card number, magnetic strip and CSC/CCV code should improve security though and I can't think of any case where a vendor would need to see them, though alterations to your card may make the vendors more suspicious as it isn't what they are used to.

  • As a vendor, if I see a defaced card, I immediately think "Counterfeit" and would decline to accept it. You can wipe the magstripe quite easily though. Commented Nov 6, 2014 at 4:11

Theoretically, removing those parts of the card will not prevent the card from working, and thus will more-or-less accomplish your goal. It will fail when a human wants to see the card, but that is of course rare, as you point out.

According to a search I just performed on the web, it looks like some cards don't have embossed numbers, and some apparently don't even have numbers at all.

Given that the normal procedure for discarding of an unwanted card is to cut it up into tiny pieces, I'm not sure if mutilating your own card is illegal. With a little research, you should be able to determine any applicable laws so that you can make sure you are following them.

I always recommend that if people use credit cards, that they write "IDENTIFICATION REQUIRED" on the signature line, although from what I understand it only helps a little. Even with those words written in huge letters on the back of the card, almost no one ever asks them.

Personally, I find a little bit of cash to be the most reliable and secure. Never fails and is accepted everywhere.

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