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Can You Get Coronavirus from Cash and Credit Cards?

The continued threat of COVID-19, better known as the coronavirus, has people taking proactive actions to help reduce the risk of catching the virus. Coronavirus is a respiratory virus with flu-like symptoms that continues to devastate many American states. But can you get coronavirus from cash and credit cards?

Can You Catch Coronavirus from Touching Money?

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the virus may be transferable from contact with a solid object or any contaminated surfaces.

A variety of surfaces can transfer bacteria and viruses. A recent study found that it’s likely that your cell phone carries up to ten times the number of bacteria than most toilet seats. Similarly, cash like dollar bills is notorious for having a lot of bugs living on them.

We handle many of these items multiple times a day, often without realizing what we’re touching. Handling money from someone who is sick touches won’t make you ill necessarily. However, it still presents a chance for that virus to spread.

For those who handle cash regularly, there is some good news when it comes to coronavirus. Money that has a porous surface like a dollar bill is not an excellent vehicle for the transportation of respiratory viruses. Instead, viruses tend to survive for more extended periods on hard surfaces like credit cards and coins.

How Does Money Affect Coronavirus Transmission?

How does money impact the transmission fo coronavirus exactly? In an interview, one medical expert laid out the facts on whether Americans can contract coronavirus from money:

“Getting coronavirus, or other respiratory viruses like influenza, on your hands only leads to infection when it is transferred from your hand to places like your mouth, nose or eyes,” says Michael Knight, assistant professor of medicine at the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences. He states that consumers are “still susceptible to potential infection,” if they fail to wash their hands – even when using contactless payments.

How Can You Protect Yourself from COVID-19 When Handling Money?

Since viruses spread from touching objects that have been handled by individuals who are ill, what precautions can you take so you don’t get coronavirus from cash and credit cards?

  • After handling cash like dollar bills and coins, wash your hands before touching your face, nose, ears, eyes, or mouth.
  • After riding the subway, or touching doors and handrails in public places, wash your hands before touching your face, nose, ears, eyes, or mouth.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water often. Wash them for at least 20 seconds, especially before eating or handling food. Alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol is a good substitute if soap and water is not readily available.
  • Clean your cell phone screen using alcohol wipes regularly.
  • Clean and disinfect other objects that are frequently touched.

Can You Get Coronavirus from a Credit Card?

Technically speaking, yes – it is possible to catch coronavirus from a credit card. The CDC states that the virus spreads mainly from person-to-person contact. Respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes are considered the primary vehicle for the virus’s spread.

They speculate, “It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.”

Based on this input from the CDC, let’s make one thing clear: The odds of contracting coronavirus from touching a credit card that was handled by someone with COVID-19 are minimal. Luckily, for those who would prefer not to risk it at all, there are alternate payment methods.

Can Mobile Wallet Payments Prevent the Spread of Coronavirus?

Digital wallets, also known as mobile wallets, are a convenient payment method for everyone. They’re easy to set up and easy to use. The digital wallet is useful; it helps streamline the checkout process, both online and in-person. It also allows users to make purchases without having to pull out paper money or swipe a credit card.

Using a mobile wallet to make purchases is a convenient way to avoid the risk of COVID-19. It reduces the need to touch or exchange credit cards with other people.

While the World Health Organization isn’t offering any explicit warning about cash payments, they are pushing for more consumers to use contactless payments, including mobile wallet services like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay. These methods won’t eliminate the risk of coronavirus, but they can significantly reduce the chances of your body encountering the virus.

Should You Turn to Bitcoin?

Bitcoin, a decentralized digital currency, has seen a recent surge in popularity. It does not require a central bank and can be sent as payment via a peer-to-peer bitcoin network. This eliminates the need for intermediaries, as well as the need for interpersonal interaction while making a payment.

Bitcoin can be useful for someone who wants to avoid the risk of contracting coronavirus. However, it is not as easy to use as a mobile wallet. The currency requires purchasing through the local currency, but outside of online payments, there are very few ways to spend Bitcoin in everyday life.

New credit and debit cards are debuting to establish Bitcoin further and integrate it into normal life. These processes, however, take time. This delay, in turn, limits the effectiveness of Bitcoin in reducing the risk of coronavirus spread.

Conclusion: Can You Get Coronavirus from Cash and Credit Cards?

Good hygiene is essential for eliminating the threat from COVID-19 – the novel coronavirus. Because the transmission of the virus requires contact with the nose, mouth, eyes, or other orifices, it’s essential to keep hands clean always.

A letter in the Journal of the American Medical Association reports that cleaning and disinfecting can remove all traces of the virus. The hospital rooms of three patients containing contamination of the coronavirus on 80% of surfaces later had no evidence of the virus after thorough disinfection.

Using credit cards and mobile wallets is a great way to reduce the risk of catching coronavirus – but only if you clean your hands, phone, and credit cards regularly. Similarly, handling money carriers a higher risk of passing on the virus, but only if your hands later touch your nose, ears, eyes, or mouth. So, can you get the coronavirus from cash? Probably not directly.

As other public health experts and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) already make clear, always wear a protective face mask or cloth face coverings when social distancing isn’t possible. Doing this can help in slowing the spread of the virus.

If you have trouble breathing, contact your doctor and self-isolate, as you may already be infected with the virus.

Related Article: Amex COVID-19 Financial Relief Program Now Available Online

About: Cory
Cory Santos

Cory is's "Jack of all trades" and resident rewards expert, covering all facets of the points game – especially travel, hotels, and airlines. In addition to credit cards, Cory finds that jogging, cats, and memes are essential parts of a balanced day.