How To Clean Your Credit Cards
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Editors note: This post has been updated with new information.
When we talk about the prevention of spreading germs, there are a few things that immediately come to mind washing your hands, disinfecting high-touch surfaces and wearing facial coverings. But there are a few everyday items that may not be top of mind when we regularly clean, including whats in our wallets.
When buying groceries, grabbing takeout or making any other purchase, were likely to touch our credit cards. Whether youre tapping to pay, swiping your card or inserting the chip, that means your card is touching surfaces that hundreds of other peoples credit cards have also touched recently.
You may or may not have thought of cleaning your cards, but disinfecting them periodically can avoid the accumulation of germs from forming.
Heres our useful guide on how to clean your credit cards effectively.
How To Improve Your Credit Score
If your credit score is low, there are steps you can take to help improve it. You can:
- lower your credit card limit
- limit how many applications you make for credit
- pay your rent or mortgage on time
- pay your utility bills on time
- pay your credit card on time each month either pay in full or pay more than the minimum repayment
As you do these things, your credit score will start to improve. So you’ll be more likely to be approved next time you apply for a loan or credit.
If you’re struggling to pay bills and are getting into more debt, talk to a free financial counsellor. They can take you through the options and help you make a plan.
Pull Your Credit Reports And Obtain Your Credit Scores
The Fair Credit Reporting Act entitles you to a free credit report from each credit bureau every 12 months. Its a good idea to pull a copy of your reports from each of the major credit reporting agencies If youre aiming to ensure your credit report is spotless. Financial firms dont always report to all three. And youll want to make sure you catch all issues that are weighing your credit scores down. since most lenders wont disclose which bureau theyll use to pull your report when you apply for new credit. You can pull your credit reports for free each year by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com and you can see your credit scores for free on Credit.ly.
Choosing The Right Credit Card
Before you apply for a credit card, do some research and find one that fits your needs and credit standing.
For instance, there are rewards credit cards that can give you cash back or points for spending in categories like groceries, dining or travel. However, you typically need good to excellent credit to qualify for them.
If youre working on rebuilding your credit, you might want to look into secured credit cards, which require a deposit that typically becomes your credit line. Retail credit cards also have less stringent credit requirements and can be a good starting option.
Tip: Another option for those new to credit is becoming an authorized user on someone elses credit card account. It gives you an opportunity to make purchases using the account and improve your credit history. Since the primary account holder takes all the responsibility for the payments, make sure to pay your bills on time and in full so their credit doesnt take a hit.
What To Do After You File A Dispute
Once your dispute is removed, there are a couple of steps you can take to continue cleaning up your credit.
First, ask the credit bureau to send notification of the change to any financial institution that has accessed your credit report in the last six months. They can do the same for any potential employer that has viewed your credit report over the last two years.
Just note that these actions dont happen automatically. You have to file a dispute in writing to each applicable credit bureau. But its a worthwhile trick to implement if youve been trying to get credit recently or if youve been applying for a new job requiring a credit check.
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Order And Review Your Credit Reports
The Fair Credit Reporting Act allows you to get a free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus every 12 months at AnnualCreditReport.com. Its essential to regularly check all three of your credit reports to know exactly what items are potentially damaging your credit score. The first step to cleaning up your credit is to go through each section and look for any potential red flags, including:
- Inaccurate personal information, such as your name or social security number
- Accounts that dont actually belong to you
- Unauthorized credit inquiries
Cleaning For Health And Public Safety
How do you deep clean your credit card reader so it doesnt infect all the cashiers and customers who come into contact with it?
Achieving this level of clean requires using the proper solutions to kill the viruses and bacteria that make us sick. Note however that disinfecting surfaces wont necessarily remove dirt and grime, but it can help stop the spread of germs.
While many different POS equipment and credit card reader providers have similar cleaning instructions, the directions below apply to First Data terminals.
To get started:
These are the basic steps. However, there are a few dos and donts worth remembering:
- Avoid using corrosive solutions, such as ketone-based solvents, bleach, trichloroethylene, or paint thinners, as a credit card reader cleaner. These chemicals can destroy the plastic components in many POS systems and credit card readers. Do not submerge device in any cleaning agents
- Do not use on fabric or leather surfaces and labels, as it may cause peeling
- Consider keeping a bottle of hand sanitizer next to each credit card machine so cashiers and customers can disinfect their hands throughout the day
- Make disinfecting your POS system a daily ritual. More frequent cleaning is even better
Refer to the manufacturers website for the appropriate cleaning procedures for your terminals.
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How Often Should You Clean Your Restaurant Technology
You now know how to clean a credit card reader and other high-touch restaurant tech, but how often should you be doing it?
As a general rule, the more frequently your customers and team use a tool, the more often you should clean it. As you know, the COVID-19 virus can live on surfaces for up to 72 hours, so regular cleaning is non-negotiable.
Follow these general guidelines on how often to clean each piece of hardware in your restaurant:
Now you know how to clean a credit card reader, why keeping your restaurants devices neat is critical, and how often to sanitize your most important hardware. With this information at your fingertips, you can be confident that you now know how to properly clean your restaurants high-touch equipment like its credit card reader so can protect customers and staff from COVID-19, while keeping service running smoothly and preventing equipment from malfunctioning.
Katherine is the Content Marketing Manager at TouchBistro, where she writes about trending topics in food and restaurants. The opposite of a picky eater, shell try anything at least once. Whether its chowing down on camel burgers in Morocco or snacking on octopus dumplings in Japan, shes always up for new food experiences.
Your Guide To Cleaning And Sanitizing Your Credit Cards Money And Wallet
You already know how important it is to sanitize those high-touch areas you come into contact with dailythink light switches, door knobs, and appliance handlesbut something else you regularly handle harbors just as many germs, if not more. Though often left out of your cleaning routing, your wallet and its contents are exceptionally dirty. In a 2017 study, researchers analyzed one dollar bills from a bank in New York City and found thousands of microorganisms, including acne-causing skin bacteria, microbes from mouths, and DNA from pets and viruses. What’s more, .
“These items harbor a lot of bacteria, whether from our own day-to-day use, surfaces around us, or exchanging hands with other people,” says Angela Bell of Grove Collaborative’s Grove Guide. While these items probably don’t pose an immediate risk to you, it’s a good idea to use common sense hygiene practices when handling them. Keeping your hands clean before and after handling items in your wallet is key, says Bell. “Hand washing or hand sanitizing is the best way to keep yourself safe when handling money, credit cards, or any other items that could have been exposed to bacteria, germs, and viruses.”
Of course, you can also give these items a regular clean. Here’s how.
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How Dirty Are Credit And Debit Cards
As the COVID-19 pandemic is making us more conscious about sanitized environments, its probably a good time to consider how germy high touch items like cash, phones, and cards are. You have no idea how many people have touched coins and bills, after all, so you probably handle that cash with the knowledge that youre going to want to wash your hands or work through a wallet cleaning checklist soon. Your credit card and debit card, though? Do you even know how to clean credit cards? Probably notand thats a bit of a problem.
It turns out that credit cards card are dirtier and carry more bacteria than paper bills and coins. According to LendEDUs recent study, credit cards even beat out public train station bathrooms and subway polesthats a lot of invisible grime. LendEDUs average germ score for credit cards was 285 surfaces in restaurant kitchens should have a germ score of 10 or less to be considered sanitary. Eating off something with a surface germ score of 10 is defined as unsanitary, yet you carry something more than twenty times as dirty around in your pocket.
You could shake off these findings its not as though you eat using a credit or debit card, after all. But you do often use that little piece of plastic to pay for lunch, say, during which youd begin eating immediately after touching the card. And you probably touch the card at least one time, if not multiple times, each day, meaning youre passing those germs on to almost everything you touch. With the
Determine Which Accounts To Dispute And Gather Evidence
Any error on your credit reports can be disputed, especially if its hurting your credit score. Go through each of your credit reports and mark which ones you want to challenge. If youve been a victim of identity theft and dont recognize the accounts, or even if you see anything that is questionable, you have the right to dispute it.
If you have a lot, you might want to narrow things down in one of two ways. The first method is to only dispute a few at a time. If you choose to do this, start with the most damaging items first.
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What Is A Credit Report
Your credit report is what creditors and lenders look at when deciding whether to lend you money. Your credit report contains a ton of information about your finances. For one, it holds your credit history and accounts. This means that all the credit accounts youve had in the past will appear here. It includes your payment history, as well, to show potential lenders how well you repay borrowed money.
A credit report will also include debt collections. If youve ever let an account go delinquent and it was sent to collections, that information can remain on your report for up to seven years. Bankruptcies and liens like a mortgage will also appear on the report.
Unfortunately, its common for credit reports to have errors. This is why its so important to constantly check up on your credit report. That way you can keep a regular eye out for any inconsistencies and fix them as soon as you see them.
Analyze The Report Thoroughly
Your report will list all past and present creditors. The accounts will say whether theyre open or closed.
Theyll contain your current balances too. Look through each reported item to check for accuracy.
Sometimes these bills are on ones credit report due to an error. However, other times incorrect credit accounts are an indicator of fraud.
Therefore, its important to read your credit report thoroughly. Make sure that all accounts listed on the report belong to you.
And make sure those reports contain the correct outstanding balance along with the correct reporting of payment manner, etc.
If you havent been late on payments your report should reflect that. Your credit report will also list any old unpaid bills.
These bills may have gone into collection status. That means the creditor turned them over to a collection agency.
Make a note of old, non-paid accounts. Ensure they belong to you and make a plan to get them paid. Well show you how to do that next.
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Getting Your Credit Score For Free
The free credit reports from Annual Credit Report will show you whats on your credit report. Remember that they charge a fee if you want to know your credit score.
Do you want to get your credit score for free? If so, you can use a company like Credit Sesame. Theyll let you access your credit score for free at any time.
is a company that helps you improve your credit score. They give regular access to your credit score at no cost. They share tips for increasing that score too.
You can also get your credit score for free using Credit Karma. Credit Karma is a service that makes recommendations on products.
They talk about products you can use to better your financial situation.
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Pull Your Credit Report
You cant clean up bad credit until you know whats on your report. You can get one free copy of your credit report each year, by law.
The free credit report doesnt include the actual FICO number. However, you can request your FICO number for an additional fee.
Go to www.annualcreditreport.com to get your free annual copy of your report.
Obtaining a copy of your credit report allows you to see what others see when they pull your credit report.
The free annual credit report offered to consumers contains all reported items.
When you get the copy of your report, youll see information. Lots of it. Youll be able to pull reports from all three credit bureaus.
The Annual Credit Report website lets you see all three reports. They wont show you your actual score.
However, you can pay a fee to get your score. Each credit reporting company will give you a FICO score. All three scores should be close in number.
I recommend getting a score from at least one company. That way youll know where you stand number wise.
How To Clean A Credit Card
Even the chips and magnetic strips found on the front and back of cards are designed to be water-resistant. Thankfully, specialty products are not needed to keep a credit card clean.
Many credit cards are made of PVC, a special type of plastic. But not all are: Check with the credit card issuer to find out what material the card is made of. This will likely determine which cleaning product will be most effective and safe for the card. Plastic remains more tolerant to heavy cleaning supplies, while titanium may need special treatment.
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Clean Hands And Cards With Good Old Soap And Water
The first step to cleaning your credit card is to wash it off. You can do this by washing it the same way you wash your hands. Get the card sudsy with soap and water and give it a gentle rub for 20 seconds before rinsing it off. Dont use too much force or you may cause premature wear of the card. If you prefer, you can wipe it down with a disinfectant wipe, just be sure to get in all the nooks of the card with the wipe. You may notice that your signature fades or wipes off when you clean your card. If this happens, you can simply re-sign it once the card is dry.
Avoid soaking your cards in cleaning substances or cleaning them with abrasives sponges. While your cards are waterproof, theyre not really meant to withstand prolonged contact with corrosive substances, and you may sustain damage to your chip if you use a strong cleanser on your card.
Also, part of good credit card hygiene is keeping your wallet or stick-on phone wallet disinfected preferably each time you swipe. Minimizing the amount of contact your cards have with other people and surfaces outside of the home can help you avoid constant card cleaning.