Contactless card limit rises to £100 – but not every shop will increase payment

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The spending limit on each use of a contactless card has more than doubled today from £45 to £100 – but not every shop will accept the new payment threshold. Retailers say it could take months to update terminals before every shopper can spend up to £100, without the need to enter a four-digit PIN.

Andrew Cregan, the British Retail Consortium’s payments policy adviser, 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.”

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 in discussion with both the retail and banking sectors.

It follows on from the successful increase in the limit from £30 to £45 in April 2020.

In this time contactless payments grew by 12 percent.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the decision would bring convenience for shoppers and a boost to the High Street following Covid lockdowns. However, some warn it could lead to a rise in theft, as some people may walk out accidentally without paying, industry sources suggest.

Once £300 has been cumulatively spent, contactless customers must enter their PIN to complete the next purchase.

But the prompt is sometimes missed. Retailers are understood to have already lost millions of pounds to people walking off halfway through a contactless transaction thinking it had gone through when it had failed.

Now, not only can more expensive items theoretically be purchased with a single tap, increasing the risk for businesses, but the limit could be reached with just three transactions.

The’ Chip and PIN systems in shops need to be updated to accommodate the higher limit.

Waitrose and John Lewis are among those that will not be able to accept the larger payments immediately.

Sainsbury’s and Tesco are introducing the higher limit from today, but it may take weeks before it is available in all Sainsbury’s stores.

Primark said its own implementation will take weeks, while Co-Op said it was still studying how it would bring in the higher limit.

This increase is 10 times more than it was when contactless was originally introduced at £10 in 2007.

Many people have concerns that this new limit will open up more opportunity for fraud, and card theft.

Laura Suter, head of personal finance at AJ Bell, said: “Despite being sold as a way for people to spend more conveniently, the move is a paradise for thieves, who can steal hundreds of pounds from you before you’ve even noticed.

“Thieves won’t face a request for a PIN until they’ve spent £300. If you have multiple cards in your purse or wallet, the total amount stolen could quickly rack up.”

Currently, regulations state that providers will prevent contactless payments where people try to spend above the contactless limit, where they’ve made more than five contactless transactions in a row using the same card, or where the total amount spent since people last had to verify a transaction exceeds 300.

Authorities have sought to allay any concerns about an increase in fraud, pointing out that there was no rise in the crime after the last increase in the payment limit.

“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,” a spokesman for the FCA said.

Customers of a variety of banks can switch off the contactless, lower the contactless limit or request a non-contactless card.

Halifax, Lloyds, Bank of Scotland and Starling Bank allow users to set their own limits on their cards, with Starling allowing customers to set it to as low as £10.

Lloyds and Starling will also allow customers to set their own contactless limit via the bank’s apps.

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