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Exchange Money, Not Germs! Contactless Ways to Pay

Key Takeaways:

  • Online payments help you avoid the potential for picking up bacteria and germs
  • Adding a debit card to your digital wallet is an easy way to reduce contact while using money you already have
  • Debit cards can be easily sanitized with a cloth or wipe for increased protection

A decade ago, if you pulled a stack of bills out of your wallet, people would’ve been impressed. Use cash to pay for your coffee today and you might get the side-eye instead. Why? Paper money and coins are filthy, according to popular opinion and a frequently cited “dirty money” study conducted on dollar bills in New York City.1 We’d tell you the grimy details but trust us — you won’t be able to look at a quarter the same way again.

Luckily, there are several easy and convenient ways to make contactless payments and avoid having to exchange physical money. We’re breaking down a few of them here so that you can stay safe and clean while making everyday purchases. Keep in mind that we’re strictly talking about cash alternatives like debit cards, not credit cards or other forms of debt.

Make an Online Purchase

One of the cleanest ways to make a cash purchase is by using your debit card online. Many retailers offer an option to save your card information online so you can easily make repeat purchases without the need to grab your wallet. You won’t have to touch a thing if your information is already stored by the site (other than your keyboard, so keep that clean using electronics-friendly wipes or sprays)!

For your safety, only allow your debit card information to be stored on reputable sites with SSL encryption security typically indicated by the lock symbol visible to the left of the URL. Ensure your antivirus and web browser are up to date, and only shop using a secure Wi-Fi connection.

Swap Your Billfold for a Digital Wallet

Digital wallets (also called mobile wallets or e-wallets) offer a convenient and fast way to make touchless payments for purchases in person. They’re basically virtual equivalents of a physical wallet, and hold digital versions of your credit cards, debit cards, store cards, rewards programs, event tickets and more! The most popular digital wallets are Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay. Each mobile wallet app has a slightly different process to add a new card, but the basics are similar.

To set your digital wallet up, you’ll follow a few simple steps:

  • Download the digital wallet app
  • Click the + symbol or follow a prompt to “add a credit or debit card”
  • Enter your card details
  • Verify or activate your card as directed

Once your debit card is activated, you can use it to pay anywhere your mobile wallet app is accepted. Simply tap your unlocked smartphone to the reader at the time of purchase and you’re all set. Of course, don’t forget to regularly disinfect your smartphone screen to keep it clean!

For more details on how to use Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay, view our video tutorial on contactless payments and check out our mobile wallet blog.

Insert Your Chip (And Bring a Pen!)

If you’re in a restaurant or store and don’t have a mobile wallet, skip the cash and use your debit card by inserting it chip-first into the card reader. Since you are the only one who touches your debit, you’ll minimize contact — especially if you use your own pen or stylus to enter your PIN on the keypad.

Don’t assume that your debit card is sparkling clean, though! Debit and credit cards can carry as much bacteria as other forms of payment.2 But unlike cash, they can be quickly cleaned with rubbing alcohol or an antibacterial wipe. Just give your card a quick wipe-down before and after you use it.

Keeping It Clean

Your debit card is just as good as cash, plus it’s a lot easier to sanitize! Whether you choose to make an online purchase with it, add it to your digital wallet or use it to pay for your morning donut and coffee, your debit card offers a safe and simple way to get what you need without pulling out that wad of grungy bills or going into debt. So, next time you’re tempted to start counting out exact change, remember the phrase “dirty money” and make a contactless payment with your debit card instead.

Debit Card Safety & Security

At Desert Financial, your Visa® Debit Card is fraud-protected and we act quickly to resolve qualified fraud claims. To protect your debit card, review your checking account regularly, report fraudulent charges or lost/stolen cards immediately, keep your debit card in your possession at all times, protect your PIN and only use your debit card with trusted vendors. For more information about fraud, scam and identity theft protection, visit DesertFinancial.com/Security.

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3Primary account holder must be 18 years or older and meet Desert Financial’s membership eligibility and credit qualification requirements, including opening a Membership Savings account with a minimum balance of $25. Checking is free; however, fees incurred — such as a stop payment or NSF fee — will apply. For complete terms and conditions, refer to the published Statements of Terms, Conditions and Disclosures booklet.

The material presented here is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be used as financial, investment, or legal advice.