Bombshell study: Payment cards are dirtier than cash

Debit and credit cards carry many more germs than bank notes and coins according to new American research.

Average ‘germ scores’ from debit and credit cards rival scores taken from surfaces in public toilets and subway stations according to the study conducted in May.

Researchers derived a ‘germ score’ from relative light unit (RLU) readings using a common commercially available sanitation monitoring system, the Hygiena SystemSURE Plus.

The average payment card had a germ score of 285 compared with 160 for cash notes and 136 for coins. A food preparation surface should score 10 or less to be considered safe and clean.

The researchers tested 41 debit and credit cards, 27 different bank notes and 12 coins.

“Cash is clean, sanitised and safe,” said Tim Wildash, Chief Executive Officer of Next Payments, Australia and New Zealand’s leading independent ATM supplier.

“This study confirms what we have known for a while – EFTPOS machines and plastic cards are far more of a virus threat than cash.

“Card companies like Mastercard have been pushing fear of cash to increase their profits.

“Now this research reveals the truth – credit cards and debit cards carry more germs than clean, sanitised cash notes dispensed from an ATM,” said Tim Wildash.

“Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Apple, Google, the banks and merchants are profiting from a misplaced fear of cash.

Recent market research from Next Payments shows more than 95% of consumers want to keep their right to pay with cash.

The Royal Australian Mint says there is no evidence linking cash to the transmission of COVID-19.

Cash is sanitised before being delivered by cash companies to venues and ATM operators. Next Payments has issued advice to ATM owners and venue operators about how to ensure their cash machines remain clean and disease free.

For more comments, interview or information:
Tim Wildash – +61 418 336 599 /
New Zealand: Craig Whale +64 21 440 683 /
Jason Bryce, Journalist – +61 428 777 727 /