Contactless limit change FAQs

Why is the contactless limit increasing?

An increase in the contactless limit was already being considered by the payments industry but the changes have been introduced more quickly as part of the industry’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak to support consumers who choose to pay using contactless.

The decision to raise the limit from 1 April 2020 has been taken following consultation between the retail sector and the banking and finance industry and follows similar increases in several other European countries over the past week.

The new limit is being introduced in recognition of the growing popularity of contactless payments among consumers. Last year, £80.5 billion was spent using contactless payments, an increase of 16 per cent on the year before.

How will the limit change work in practice?

The software on card payment machines will be updated to accept the new £45 limit. Software will be rolled out from 1 April 2020 but with hundreds of thousands of terminals in the UK, the updating process will happen gradually.

If a purchase costs more than £30 and the machine has not yet been updated to accept £45 transactions, then contactless card payments will not be an available option.

How do I know if a retailer has the new limit?

Customers should ask in store and follow the prompts on the card payment machine. If a machine has not yet been upgraded to accept the new limit you will not be offered the option of a contactless payment for a purchase of more than £30.

Why is the new limit £45?

The new £45 limit is designed to balance security, convenience and consumer demand. While the increase has been introduced more quickly to help customers during the Covid-19 outbreak, the limit has to be balanced with ensuring security too.

What is contactless?

Contactless is a way for cardholders to pay for small purchases using a card or a device without having to enter their PIN. The maximum value for this kind of purchase is known as the contactless limit. If the value is above the limit, the payment will default to a Chip & PIN payment for card, or, if available, payment via mobile phone.

How do I know if I can make contactless payments?

Anyone with the following symbol on their card can make contactless payments.

How do you use a contactless card?

  1. Look out for the contactless symbol when shopping.
  2. Tell the retailer you'd like to use your contactless card and simply touch it directly onto the card reader.
  3. The terminal display will indicate when your payment is complete, sometimes with a green light or bleep.

For extra security you may occasionally be asked to enter your PIN.

How close does the card need to be to the reader?

To make a payment, hold a contactless card within a few centimeters of the reader. We recommend touching the card to the reader.

Who made the decision to increase the limit and why?

The decision to change the contactless limit is made collectively by the payments industry. Every time the limit changes, the card schemes and the industry consults with retailers, as well as considering consumer research.

The contactless payment limit takes into account both average transaction values and the increasing consumer demand for paying using contactless. An increase in the contactless limit was already being considered by the payments industry but the changes have been introduced more quickly as part of the industry’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak to support consumers who choose to pay using contactless.

So far, the limit has increased from £10 in 2007, to £15 in 2010, and £20 in 2012, and £30 in 2015. It will now rise to £45 from April 2020.

COVID-19

As the situation with Covid-19 in the UK evolves rapidly many consumers and businesses have questions about how the banking and finance industry will be able to support them to access the finances, support and guidance they need.

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