How to clean your retail gift and loyalty cards during the Coronavirus

June 2020

Personal hygiene is critical in the age of COVID-19. Here’s how you can prevent your cards from harbouring the coronavirus:

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, millions of South Africans are diligently practicing proper hygiene, such as thoroughly washing their hands, regularly disinfecting various surfaces and religiously shielding other people from coughs or sneezes.

Should you embrace retail gift and loyalty card hygiene, too?

Experts say you can disinfect your retail gift and loyalty cards and other plastic payment cards, which appear capable of harbouring the new coronavirus. And that cleaning very well could rid those cards of the virus.

You could go as far as cleaning a card with a disinfecting wipe or an alcohol-based sanitizer, she adds, or even wearing gloves while you’re holding a card.

In early March 2020, the world health organisation (WHO) released a list of disinfectant products that it says can kill the COVID-19 virus on surfaces. These products – from major brands like Clorox, Lysol and Purell – potentially could get rid of this virus on your retail gift and loyalty cards.

While disinfecting a card could erase the COVID-19 virus, vigorous cleaning might hinder a card’s functionality. That could include damage to a card’s chip or magnetic strip

Cards Plus rather suggests someone concerned about a potentially germy plastic card should rather gently clean it with soap and warm water.

Paul Pottinger, professor of medicine and director of the Infectious Diseases Training Program, says another anti-coronavirus step you could take is to place cards in a UV sterilizer device. The UV light in these devices can kill viruses and bacteria.

However, according to experts this is not necessary,” Pottinger says. “Just clean your hands after each transaction, either with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.”

For most of us, there’s little reason to fear touching a possibly germ-covered card.

Cards Plus would like to continue reminding all consumers to remain safe and healthy during this pandemic. Sanitize, practice social distancing and work from home if applicable.