EDMONTON -- The next time you need to pay for something during the COVID-19 pandemic, experts want you to stop and think.

Should you be using cash, or is it better to flash the plastic?

While many businesses are urging customers to not use cash, Mike Maier from the University of Alberta School of Business says relying too much on debit or credit cards can prove costly.

“People tend to overspend when they use a credit card, so we know that you can spend up to 30 per cent more on groceries if you go and decide to use a credit card versus cash.”

He urges consumers to make the spending moment as real as possible when using a credit card. One idea is to download a banking app that reminds you of every transaction.

“When we are using cash it's very real handing over the cash, when we are just tapping it's not a sale yet, to most of us.”

As for the concern that most cash changing hands could be contaminated, David Evans, Medical Microbiology and Immunology Professor at the University of Alberta, says his research indicates the chances of contracting COVID-19 from cash is small.

“If someone had a case of COVID and was coughing all over their hands and coughing on their money, I would worry about it. But in the regular day to day activities I don’t think there is a huge risk of the cash in that drawer."

He adds that taking the smallest of precautions would reduce the risk even further.

“The practical reality is handle it if you have to, but wash your hands afterwards. I wouldn’t go licking the money, but I think the risk of picking it up from a casual handling of a 20-dollar bill is probably fairly low."