The world is focused on the coronavirus, and many people are taking precautions to avoid exposure. There is speculation as to whether the virus can be transmitted by touching an object that an infected person has handled. Can a credit card transmit the virus, too?
Due to the onset of COVID-19, better known as the coronavirus, many people have been looking into the different ways that diseases are transmitted. Coronavirus is a respiratory virus with flu-like symptoms that has made headlines due to its rapid spread from China to the rest of the world. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), it is possible that the disease can be transferred from contact with a solid object. However, since so little is yet known about this virus, this is speculation based on how other coronavirus strains spread.
Bacteria and viruses can be transferred by a variety of surfaces. A recent study found that it’s likely that your cell phone carries up to ten times the amount of bacteria than most toilet seats. Similarly, cash like dollar bills are 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 a bill that was touched by someone with the flu may not cause you to fall ill. However, it still presents a chance for that disease to spread.
Since disease can spread from touching objects that have been handled by individuals who are ill, what precautions can you take?
- 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.
For those who handle cash regularly, there is some good news when it comes to coronavirus. Cash that has a porous surface like a dollar bill is not a good vehicle for the transportation of respiratory viruses. Instead, viruses tend to survive for longer periods of time on hard surfaces like credit cards and coins.
Can You Contract Coronavirus from a Credit Card?
Technically speaking, yes – it is possible to catch coronavirus from a credit card. The CDC states that the virus is thought to spread 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 very small. Luckily, for those who would prefer to not risk it at all, there are alternate payment methods.
Alternative Methods of Payment – How to Avoid Coronavirus
Many people recall the SARS outbreak in 2002. Although it spread worldwide in a few short months, it was quickly contained. A respiratory disease transmitted through droplets that form when someone coughs or sneezes, it is comparable to coronavirus. At that time, however, there were very few alternative methods for making payments. Cash, check, debit and credit were the only payment methods available to most people. Luckily, thanks to the advancement of technology today, that’s changed. If you’re worried about coronavirus, there are several payment alternatives available that eliminate the need for physical interaction. Let’s explore them:
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 and 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.
- Easy to use
- Easy to set up
- Helps avoid inter-human contact
- Widely accepted by retailers and companies
- Requires a debit or credit card to use (cash does not work)
- Requires a smartphone or tablet, or a desktop computer
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. In order to exchange bitcoin, one must purchase bitcoin using their native currency (the U.S. Dollar, for example). The rising price of bitcoin may make this difficult, as its popularity means that more people are investing in it. As of this writing, 1 bitcoin equals $8,820.19USD.
Bitcoin can be used to buy or sell items from people and companies that accept it as payment. However, bitcoin is not as widely accepted as other currencies, and at this time is most used for trading.
- Helps avoid inter-human contact
- Once acquired, easy to use, can be used with a digital wallet
- Not easily obtainable
- Not widely accepted for most transactions
Coronavirus and Credit Cards
The best advice for those worried about the coronavirus is to regularly wash their hands, especially after touching cash. It’s a good idea to carry hand sanitizer and avoid touching the mouth, nose, eyes and ears while out and about. Clean the surfaces you touch regularly, especially your cell phone, and the credit cards you handle most. Luckily, there is not a great chance that you’ll contract coronavirus from handling a credit card. The disease spreads like many other viruses – through droplets in the air. While this doesn’t eliminate the risk of transmission from touching an infected surface, it does mean there is less risk. Those who are particularly worried can make use of digital wallets for most payments until the risk has subsided.