The dirtiest thing in your wallet is your credit card

The average payment card had a 285 germ score, which was nearly twice as much as the average cash and coin germ scores combined.

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The next time you grab your credit card, you might want to use hand sanitizer.

A new study found that credit and debit cards were the dirtiest form of money in your wallet, surpassing both cash and coins, according to financial website LendEDU.com.

Researchers tested all forms of payment for their surface bacteria earlier this month, where they examined nearly 72 credit and debit cards and a dozen coins using Hygiena’s SystemSURE Plus — a handheld device that examines cleanliness and returns a germ score, according to the study.

The average payment card had a 285 germ score, which was nearly twice as much as the average cash and coin germ scores combined.

“When you think about all the places your cash has been and how many times it has changed hands, you realize that bills become germ-transporting vessels,” wrote Mike Brown, the study’s author. “And even as we progress towards a cashless society, those debit and credit cards are still getting swiped or inserted, changing hands, or sitting on bar tops.”

To put things in perspective, the research compared your dirty card to other filthy things around town. The highest germ score for payment cards’ was higher than a McDonald’s door handle, a CitiBike, Penn Station’s bathrooms, and an MTA subway pole.

Neat Services founder Sean Perry said you could wipe your cards semi-regularly to keep them clean. However, it’s best to wash your hands regularly throughout the day.

Or to avoid all of this, you could just switch to digital payments.


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Kyle Schnitzer|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at kschnitzer@theladders.com.