Credit, debit cards found to be 'dirtiest payment method’ versus cash, coins, study says

That credit or debit card in your wallet is apparently dirtier than you might have suspected.

A recent study by showed credit and debit cards were dirtier on average than cash or coins. The financial website released its findings online Tuesday, noting researchers used Hygiena's SystemSURE Plus handheld testing device to examine cleanliness.

“The device returns a germ score that is quite easy to understand: the higher the number, the dirtier the surface and vice versa,” the report said, adding that the surfaces of credit and debit cards as well as “various bill and coin denominations” were tested.

LendEDU’s study found the average payment card registered a 285 germ score. Cash had an average germ score of 160, whereas coins had an average germ score of 136, the report said.

“After testing the front and back of 41 different debit and credit cards, 27 different bills, and 12 different coins, and calculating the average germ scores for each payment based on the results, debit and credit cards turned out to be the dirtiest payment method,” the site concluded.


The website stacked these results against other “known filthy things” and said a payment card’s average germ score was higher than that of a bathroom in New York City’s Penn Station, which received a 163 germ score.

The average germ scores for both cash and coins were lower than the bathroom but higher than a New York City subway pole’s 68 germ score, according to the report.