Consumer Comeback Blog

Dirty Money: Paying with Plastic Is Just as Germy as Cash

In case you need another reason to curb your credit card spending, consider cold and flu season. By handing over your card, you are exchanging more than money.

By now, most consumers know that cash is notoriously germ-laden, and cell phones and television remotes are reported to have more germs than a toilet seat, but don’t think you’re safe by using plastic, reports Money Blue Book.

Every time you give your credit card to a retailer or restaurant server, you expose yourself to germs that can live on hard surfaces for days. Restaurant credit card holders and even the swipe machines are potential sources of infection. Likewise, when you punch in your PIN at the keypad at ATMs, gas stations, and grocery stores, you are following in the germy fingerprints of thousands of other consumers.

Before you start pointing fingers at “patient zero,” you could be just as guilty of spreading germs by storing your credit card next to cash in dark, damp pockets, wallets and purses that are breeding grounds for microbes. If you have a bug, you could be infecting the pharmacist just by paying for your prescription.

Even so, there is hardly any need for mass contagion panic. Use common sense – just wipe your card and wash your hands. People will argue the effectiveness of alcohol-based hand sanitizers, but if you don’t plan to be near a sink, they’re better than nothing. Sign your credit receipt with your own pen instead of the one used by everyone and their mom.