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3 Reasons Why Cash is Safer than Alternative Payment Methods

Sarah Crandall & Maria Terry

24 Jun 2020 - 00:00:00

By overlooking germs on what are often considered convenient payment methods, you may be bringing home more than you bought from the store.

If you recently made a purchase outside of your home, you may have noticed that many retailers are stepping away from cash, asking customers to use cards and mobile payments when possible. However, recent studies suggest that cash is safer than you might think – and cleaner than using your phone or credit card to pay.

Cash is cleaner than credit cards.

While credit cards are simple to pay with, they’re far from being foolproof when it comes to cleanliness. A recent study conducted by LendEDU tested various payment instruments on a germ scale, with higher scores equaling more contamination. The study revealed that the dirtiest credit and debit cards held nearly twice the amount of germs compared to the average germ score of even the filthiest bills and coins.

A separate study highlighted the ways in which COVID-19 can live on plastic for up to seven days. With the lifespan of a virus in mind, credit cards hardly present a safer alternative to cash, especially when you factor keypad touch points into the equation.

Your phone may be holding more germs than your wallet.

Cell phones are great for holding information, photos, messages…and germs. As a virtually contactless payment method, mobile payments allow consumers to make purchases with a few taps from a smartphone. However, a recent study conducted by Bond University in Queensland, Australia found that cell phones carry bacteria and viruses, fungi and protozoa in the thousands. In fact, 68% of phones in the study were contaminated with “a wide range of microorganisms,” some of which were resistant to standard antibiotics.

Though people having been spending less time outside of their homes lately, many of us tend to take our phones with us everywhere we go. And while there’s been a big emphasis on handwashing and wearing masks in recent months, it’s easy to forget how often most of us touch our phones when our hands aren’t clean. Bottom line? Your cell phone is probably carrying way more germs than that $5 bill in your wallet.

Plastic is convenient, but is touching a pin pad worth the risk?

While credit cards are generally encouraged as a safer payment method for in-person transactions, the use of pin pads presents a new threat of germs on a high-traffic surface beyond your wallet. With many credit and debit transactions requiring the use of pin pads for purchase authorization, the keys of these pin pads collect an alarming amount of bacteria and viruses throughout the day.

Since many customers physically touch these surfaces without using gloves, the risk of spreading disease is higher upon use, as many individuals touch these surfaces without washing their hands. Similar to a phone or mobile device, the cleanliness of a pin pad relies on how frequently it is disinfected throughout the day. Particularly in restaurants and food service locations, pin pads can quickly become the source of dangerous germs and bacteria on hands prior to eating a meal.

Keep your payment clean – and clean cut.

While cash isn’t entirely germ-free, it provides a simple and cleaner payment process for customers seeking convenience and quick transactions. At Brink’s, we’re revolutionizing cash management to make it easier than ever. Click here to read about why efficiently managing your cash is crucial if you want to stay competitive.

Read about other cash myths by checking out our Cash Myths blog.