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How a credit card can come in handy during the coin shortage

Amid a nationwide coin shortage due in part to the coronavirus pandemic, CNBC Select takes a look at how credit cards can help and the safest to choose from.

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On your next visit to a local supermarket, restaurant or bank, you may see a sign saying that only exact change or electronic payment is being accepted at this time.

The slowed circulation of coins throughout the economy, spurred by the coronavirus pandemic, has led to a coin shortage trickling across the U.S. for the past month.

As big retailers, such as Walmart and CVS, learn to adjust, credit cardholders actually stand to benefit.

Below, CNBC Select outlines how a credit card can come in handy during this time and some of the more sanitary ways to pay with plastic.

How a credit card can help

If you're one of the few who doesn't carry exact change everywhere you go, a credit card can help.

Credit cards are widely accepted forms of payment (even before the coin shortage) and convenient to use. Cardholders can make a purchase now and pay it off at a later date, all the while building credit if they pay their monthly bills on time and in full. And if your credit card information ever gets stolen, you're limited to paying $50 max for any fraudulent charges.

Not only do credit cards help you pay for everyday purchases during a coin shortage, but many also reward you for spending. Some of the best credit cards offer cash back, points and miles that you can put back into your wallet or redeem for gift cards and future travel.

CNBC Select did some calculations, for example, and found that the Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card (one of our best rewards credit cards) earns cardholders an estimated $553 in cash back after just one year and an estimated $2,370 after five years.

A cleaner way to pay

Thanks to contactless credit cards that offer the capability to go touch-free, there's a cleaner way to pay with plastic.

In fact, the majority of Americans have caught on to the trend of using tap-to-pay credit cards and mobile wallets, like Apple Pay, to avoid germs during the coronavirus pandemic while also expediting the checkout process at stores. 

A 2020 American Express Digital Payments survey found that 58% of consumers who have used contactless payments in the past say they are more likely to use them now than ever before, and Mastercard Contactless Consumer Polling found that 51% of Americans are now using some form of contactless payment.

If your current credit card doesn't offer contactless payment (there would be a wave-like symbol on the front), consider opening one of the best contactless credit cards that made our ranking.

Below are our top picks for all your shopping needs:

Bottom line

Before applying for a contactless credit card amid the coin shortage, check your credit score for free to see where you stand. 

As banks have tightened their lending requirements during this time, know that you can increase your approval odds by making sure all your bills are paid on time and monitoring your credit score for any changes. The best credit monitoring services monitor all three credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — also known as "triple-bureau protection."

Information about the Citi Simplicity® Card and Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the CNBC Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.