How to Clean Your EMV Chip Credit Card

February 26, 2018, Written By John H. Oldshue

In October 2015, the fraud liability laws in the United States changed to encourage merchants to switch to EMV chip credit cards. EMV cards are more secure than magnetic stripe credit cards in processing payments because the chip transmits payments with an encrypted token instead of your credit card number. Since your payment card information is not being transmitted, thieves will not be able to steal your information if they hack the payment system.

Since the shift happened over two years ago, chances are good that your card issuers have sent you the new EMV chip cards. If you have these in your wallet, you may be wondering how to properly clean them, a legitimate concern since dirt on your card can affect the chip and make transactions fail. Additionally, credit cards can also carry disease-causing germs.

First, know that EMV credit cards are sturdy and water-resistant. Thus, if you drop your card in a puddle or get stuck in the rain, it is unlikely this will damage your card—just make sure you dry it off before using it at an ATM or payment terminal. But these cards are not indestructible. The chip is adhered to your credit card with a type of glue, so any chemical that would weaken this glue could make the chip fall out of your card. Thus, it’s not a great idea to have your credit card take a spin in the dryer.

There are a few ways to clean your EMV credit card:

  1. Use a damp cotton cloth and non-abrasive soap to wipe the card and then dry it thoroughly with a cotton towel.
  2. Use an antibacterial wipe or baby wipe.
  3. Spray a cotton ball with antibacterial cleaner, nail polish remover, or alcohol and then use the cotton ball to wipe down the card.

Additionally, make sure you are limiting the amount of germs on your card. The CDC recommends washing your hands in warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds multiple times throughout the day–and certainly any time you use the restroom. A report from the U.K. indicated that 10% of credit cards have fecal bacteria on them, which can spread disease such as staphylococci bacteria and E. coli.

None of these cleaning methods should damage your card. But if the chip does fall out of your EMV credit card or your card stops working for any other reason, contact your card issuer, and they will send you a new card.



The information contained within this article was accurate as of February 26, 2018. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.


About John H. Oldshue

John Oldshue is the creator of LowCards.com. He worked for over 15 years in television and won an Emmy award for his reporting. He covers credit card rate issues for LowCards.com.
View all posts by John H. Oldshue