As of today, the limit for contactless payments by credit and debit card in the UK has risen to £100.
For the first time too, some contactless payments will also have the additional protection of Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, which covers single items worth £100 to £30,000 purchased using a credit card.
The new limit gives the UK the seventh highest limit in the world and puts it top in Europe. The country with the highest limit is Canada, at $250 CAD (£147), while Iran has the lowest recorded contactless limit at 200,000 IRR (£3), followed by Malawi at 50,000 MWK (£5). In Europe, the Czech Republic has the lowest limit at £17.
The figures come from money.co.uk’s Cashless Countries report.
The limit last rose at the start of the pandemic, rising from £30 to £45 in April 2020. Commenting on the pandemic’s impact on money use, James Andrews, senior personal finance expert at money.co.uk, said:
“The global shift away from paper money towards electronic payments began before the coronavirus pandemic, but has massively accelerated since restrictions aimed at limiting the spread of the virus came into effect.
“Paying with plastic or an e-wallet also has several advantages. Cashless payments allow for quick and easy transactions and the creation of digital paper trails could help reduce tax fraud and money laundering.
“With day-to-day spending, the ease of tapping our cards or paying with a phone or watch can’t be denied, but the increased limit also means you can overspend quickly if you’re not careful.
“For people worried about the risks, banks such as Lloyds, Halifax and Bank of Scotland let customers set their own contactless limits between £30 and £90, and others allow shoppers to ask for cards with no contactless feature at all.
“It’s also important to remember that single purchases of £100 will now be protected under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, meaning contactless just got a little safer for people using a credit card.”
However, UK Finance has said that given the number of terminals that need to be updated, the £100 limit may not be available across all retailers immediately.
Its figures show that from January to July of this year 60% of all debit and credit card transactions in the UK were made using contactless. This accounted for 6.6 billion payments, a value of £81.4 billion.
The decision to raise the contactless limit from £45 to £100 was made by HM Treasury and the Financial Conduct Authority following a public consultation and discussion with the retail and banking sectors.
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.”