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Should I avoid using cash during the coronavirus outbreak?

Should I avoid using cash during the coronavirus outbreak?

By: Alex Busson | April 8, 2020

Since the outbreak of coronavirus, cash has become taboo.

Many shops now don’t accept cash. Those who do, prefer you use card. And it seems everyone is insecure over the sudden change in etiquette. Nobody wants to make a mistake.

But should you be afraid of “coronavirus cash?” And if so, how can you protect yourself?

What we know about coronavirus and cash

If nothing else, you should be more deliberate when holding cash. Don’t touch it unnecessarily. Use contactless payments wherever possible.

But also be aware of other places coronavirus might lurk.

Early in the outbreak, a study found coronavirus can live on cardboard for 24 hours, and on plastic for three days.

If your cash hasn’t been used for a while, the risk of infection is low. A card machine’s keypad is arguably much more dangerous. It has been touched constantly by hundreds of other people.

Cash is not necessarily your worst option.

Anyway, even before coronavirus, cash was never clean

Many central banks are taking radical measures to quarantine and disinfect cash.

The South Korean central bank even burned huge piles of banknotes, desperate to rid the nation of coronavirus cash.

However, The Bank of England has made no such plans. As it has stated:

“Like any other surface that large numbers of people come into contact with, notes can carry bacteria or viruses. However, the risk posed by handling a polymer note is no greater than touching any other common surface, such as handrails, doorknobs or credit cards.”

In other words, cleaning cash is like throwing a deck chair off the Titanic. There are millions of other surfaces that pose the same threat.

The real difference comes down to you.

Coronavirus needs to enter your body somehow (usually through the nose or mouth). Be aware of your actions after handling cash. Wash your hands thoroughly. Or carry a hand-sanitizer while you’re out.

And please, don’t eat anything, or touch your face, until your hands are clean.

Even before coronavirus, cash was filthy.

These are always good habits to adopt.

The safest place for your cash during coronavirus

Maybe coronavirus cash is the least of your worries?

After all, this illness has also infected our economy. Recession is now almost certain, and you might be wondering if your cash is safe in the bank.

Thankfully, there’s no good reason to draw out more cash than you need.

In the unlikely event of a banking collapse, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) insures up to £85,000 of your cash per authorised firm. Check to see if you’re covered at its website.

For most people, £85,000 is more than enough coverage.

And if you do need more, why hold so much cash?