UK contactless card limit more than doubles to £100

By Hilary Osborne
A model image: a customer pays a waiter with a contactless card at cafe.
Consumers are urged to check with individual business as it could take ‘days, weeks, or even months’ for changes to be in place. Photograph: Caia Image/Alamy

People in the UK using contactless cards can now spend up to £100 a time after the limit on payments more than doubled on Friday.

At the start of the pandemic the cap was increased to £45 to reduce the need for customers to handle cards and cash because of concerns about the virus being transmitted via surfaces.

The latest increase, announced in March’s budget, will not be available everywhere straight away, as some businesses still need to roll out changes to their technology, while others may choose not to adopt the new limit.

The British Retail Consortium said consumers should check with individual stores as it could take “days, weeks or even months” for the change to be put in place.

More than a quarter of all payments in the UK were contactless in 2020, according to figures from the banking trade body UK Finance, with 83% of people using the technology.

David Postings, the group’s chief executive, said the higher payment limit offered customers greater choice about how they pay for things, from the weekly shop to a tank of fuel.

“Contactless payments have become increasingly popular, and the payments industry has worked hard to ensure retailers are able to offer customers the new higher limit,” he said.

However, some experts have warned that the change will make contactless cards more of a target for fraudsters, or cause problems for people who are struggling to stay in control of their spending.

“The higher limit could encourage people to become ‘tap-happy’ and spend more than they can afford, and it can be harder to keep track of what you’re spending if you don’t get a receipt every time,” said Sarah Pennells, a consumer finance specialist at Royal London, the UK’s largest mutual life, pensions and investment company.

“Although fraud on contactless cards is relatively low level, it can be distressing to those who experience it. You should treat your contactless card the same way as you’d treat cash in your pocket, so be careful when you use it and don’t give it to anyone else.”

Contactless payments through services such as Apple Pay and Google Pay are not subject to the limit.


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