Apple's iPhone MagSafe charger could ruin your credit card, passport or security badge

Apple says don't let sensitive items get between your phone and its new magnetic charger.

Ian Sherr Contributor and Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. As an editor at large at CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
Ian Sherr
2 min read
iPhone 12 Pro silicone coral Magsafe charger

iPhone 12 Pro silicone coral MagSafe charger


Your Apple iPhone 12 and its new MagSafe magnetic charger could bring some pain to your wallet. And no, we're not talking about the phone's $829 off-carrier price. In a new support document posted to its website last week, Apple told users they should always make sure to remove any wallet accessories from the back of their phones before using the new $39 MagSafe charger. The connection could damage your credit card, passport, work badge or any other item with a radio chip or magnetic strip, Apple said.

"Before you place your iPhone on your MagSafe Charger, make sure that no objects (like credit cards, hotel key cards, or transit cards) or debris are between them. If your device has a metal case or if it's very thick, remove it. Also remove iPhone Leather Wallet with MagSafe," Apple said in its support document. "If you have a MagSafe case, you can leave it in place."

Apple sells a variety of MagSafe cases for its new iPhone 12 smartphones. It also sells a wallet accessory that magnetically connects to the back of an iPhone and any compatible MagSafe case. 

Apple's MagSafe in action.


Apple's support document highlights how the company's new MagSafe charging system -- which has been lauded by reviewers for its simple yet seemingly reliable way of connecting accessories to the phone -- has its limitations. 

"The magnets can also connect to noncharging accessories like a detachable wallet, which you can use with or without a MagSafe phone case," CNET reviewer Patrick Holland wrote in his review of the iPhone 12, which he called one of the highest-rated phones ever. "This little business card-sized wallet won me over. I'm excited to see what Apple and third-party companies use MagSafe for."

Still, despite all the technical wizardry behind iPhones and other popular tech products, they still have to contend with physics and chemistry. In this case, magnets and credit cards never worked well together. Though Apple's website says its wallet case accessory is safe to use with IDs and credit cards while on the go.

Watch this: Our in-depth review of the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro

Apple also warned its iPhones may get warm while charging with MagSafe. If the battery gets too hot, the iPhone will automatically limit charging until it cools down, Apple added. "Your iPhone will charge again when the temperature drops," the company said. "Try moving your iPhone and charger to a cooler location."

And for those of you hoping to get a faster charge by plugging in the iPhone's lightning cable and MagSafe charger, you're out of luck. Apple said it'll default to the lightning port if it's plugged in.