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What Is the Contactless Payments Limit in the UK

Written by, Marija Petkova

Updated July, 19, 2023

Did you know that there’s an actual limit on how much you can spend via a contactless payment (at once) that’s not limited by your own budget?

That’s right. The UK government imposes a contactless payments limit, which has more than doubled last year.

But, how much exactly is this spending limit?

Let’s find out.

What Is The Contactless Payment Limit in the UK?

The current spending limit on a contactless credit card or debit card (including teen debit cards) is £100. 

The government raised the cap from £10 in 2007 to £45 and finally a £100 in 2021, amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Did you know? In July 2021, there were more than a billion contactless transactions in the UK!

But, the pandemic wasn’t the only reason why the UK government bumped the contactless payment amount limit; the “wave and pay” method is increasingly popular and there were around 135 million contactless cards in the UK in 2021.

With more people limiting their shopping habits, it’s more convenient and faster for everyone when shoppers don’t have to enter a PIN for every purchase and the previous contactless payment limit increase was not enough to keep with the demands of today’s shoppers.

Still, the government-imposed cap doesn’t affect all types of contactless payments. For example, payments through Google Pay and Apple Pay are not subject to the limit.

Of course, the contactless pay limit doesn’t mean that you can’t spend more than £100 when shopping, but you will have to enter your PIN to complete the transaction.

What If I Prefer the Lower Contactless Card Limit?

If the contactless payment limit is too high for your taste, you can always contact your bank and ask to reduce it. 

For example, Lloyds Bank, Halifax, and Bank of Scotland all offer contactless credit and debit cards (or cash cards) with an option to choose a limit that ranges between £30 and £95, with increments of £5.

If you don’t like the options that your bank has to offer, you can always opt out of a contactless card. Some banks offer the option to switch off the contactless feature but if yours doesn’t, you can ask for a non-contactless card. If you’re not happy with your bank, you can switch to another one- there are banks that offer cash and bonuses for new customers.

What Does This Mean for Retailers?

Shoppers can’t go over the new contactless limit, but retailers aren’t required to adopt it. 

They can choose to keep the lower limit in place or offer a contactless payment method for customers. If they do, they should let customers know exactly what that limit is to avoid confusion. 

The British Retail Consortium advises all consumers to always check the limit at individual stores before shopping there. 

Some retailers may choose to raise their own contactless payment limit to deal with delays and long lines.

What Are the Crime Risks of Increasing the Payment Limit?

Increasing the contactless limit increase can make it easier for pickpockets and bag snatchers to spend more on a stolen card. 

With an unreported card that utilises contactless payment, they might be able to spend a cumulative £300 before they’re asked for a PIN.

Criminals could also clone contactless cards and make fraudulent purchases.

Still, authorities insist that while the risk is higher, there was no significant rise in fraudulent transactions after the last increase.

Bottom Line

Contactless payments are fast, convenient, and do wonders in cutting down long queues. The current contactless payment limit is £100, which is enough for everyday visits to your local stores and smaller purchases. The good news is, most banks allow customers to set their own limits, as long as they don’t go over the government-imposed cap.

My name is Marija, and I'm a financial writer at DontDisappointMe. Although finance might not be everyone's cup of tea, my 10+ years of working in one of the biggest banks in my country, and my interest in extensive research on everything finance/investment-related, have made me somewhat of an expert in the field (if I do say so myself). No longer having the passion to work in a corporate setting, I decided that I couldn't let all of this knowledge go to waste so I started writing. And, here I am! Today I try to share my knowledge with my audience in the hopes of making this topic as simple and interesting as possible. In my leisure time, I like spending time with my family and travelling to new locations.