New £100 limit for contactless payments from today - but you may have to wait

By Simon Meechan

Shoppers can use their contactless cards and smart phones for transactions up to £100 as of today.

The contactless payment limit has been more than doubled from £45 to £100, although shoppers may need to wait to use the higher limit as retailers will need to update their terminals, which could take "days, weeks, or even months" for some, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) says.

Shoppers can use contactless debit, credit and prepaid cards, and smart phones loaded with Apple Pay or Google Pay to make transactions with participating retailers.

Read more: The £3 insulation trick which could save you hundreds

The limit has now been increased five times, after being set at £10 when contactless payments were first introduced by Barclaycard in 2007.

It was last raised in April 2020, to £45, shortly after lockdown, amid a reluctance to accept cash due to fears of Covid-19 transmission from bank notes.

As of 2020, 27% of all payments made were done so with contactless methods.

David Postings, chief executive of UK Finance, said: “The new £100 limit offers customers greater choice about how they pay for things like their weekly shop or 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.”

An FCA spokesman said the rules have been changed to help the industry continue “to respond to the changing ways in which people prefer to pay”.

He said: “Available fraud rate data suggests there to be no significant increase in contactless payment-related fraud since industry increased the limit to £45 in April 2020. What’s more, we have seen no material increase in fraudulent transactions in other countries where the contactless limit increased to the equivalent of £100 or above.

“Firms must ensure they work to reduce the risk of unauthorised transactions and fraud and need to have tools in place to monitor for fraudulent transactions. As the limit increases we will continue to keep a close eye on the data.”

Users are advised to contact their bank immediately if their card is lost, stolen, or they notice any strange transactions.

People can claim refunds for unauthorised payments through their account. Cards also have an inbuilt security feature that requires users to enter a pin after a certain number of contactless transactions.

Sarah Pennells, consumer finance specialist at Royal London, said: “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.”

Andrew Cregan, payments policy adviser at the British Retail Consortium, said: “While the UK contactless limit rises to £100 on Friday, it may take days, weeks, or even months for some retailers to make the necessary changes in their systems so that the new limit can take effect.

“Furthermore, some retailers may choose not to adopt the new contactless limit. As a result, customers will need to take care when making payments to check what the maximum contactless limit is for individual stores.”

Martin Kearsley, Post Office banking director said: “Whilst contactless payments have undoubtedly sped up transactions in some shops and pubs, we know that small businesses, in particular, recognise the value of cash more than ever and many consumers rely on it to budget effectively.

“Over £1 billion is deposited by businesses every month at our branches. Whilst some places go cashless, Post Offices will always offer cash services including the ability to withdraw the amount of cash a customer needs to the penny.”

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