Contactless limit in the UK increases to £45 from today

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From today [1 April 2020] the spending limit for contactless card payments has increased from £30 to £45 across the country, UK Finance has announced. The change means retailers in the UK can now update their payment systems to accept contactless card transactions up to the new higher limit of £45.

This increase follows swift action by the payments industry to increase the contactless limit as part of the financial services industry’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The decision to raise the limit was taken following consultation between the retail sector and the finance and payments industry and follows similar increases in several other European countries over the past few weeks. The process, however, has been expedited as part of the industry’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak to support consumers who choose to pay using contactless at this time.

These are, of course, challenging times; and not all retailers will be able to make the required changes to their payment systems straight away. The payments industry, including all contactless card issuers, has completed all the work to enable retailers to upgrade as soon as they can.

If a retailer wants to start accepting contactless payments at the higher limit of £45 it should get in touch with its acquirer.

For consumers spending more than £45 there are many ways to choose to pay, for example through Chip & PIN and other alternatives such as mobile payments which do not have an upper limit when authenticated through biometric technologies.

Stephen Jones, CEO of UK Finance, said: “In response to the Covid-19 outbreak, the payments industry has been working closely with the retail community to increase the contactless limit and we are pleased that we can launch this today after a short turnaround period. 

“We know this is a challenging time for many retailers and so the new limit will not be universally available straight away. However, the payments industry has worked hard to put in place the infrastructure to enable retailers to update their payments systems when they are ready, allowing their customers to make contactless payments up to the new limit of £45.

“The increase in the limit will not only give people the choice to opt for the speed and convenience of purchasing goods up to £45, helping to cut queues at the checkout, but it will also help to limit physical contact during this uncertain time.

“The financial services industry will continue to work closely with the government and regulators to support customers as they adapt to the changes the coronavirus has placed on their lives. Enabling different ways to pay is an example of our commitment.”

Helen Dickinson, chief executive, British Retail Consortium said: “The new contactless limit will make it safer and easier for customers to purchase essential items, particularly as many need to make less frequent, but bigger shopping visits during the coronavirus crisis.

“The rise to a £45 contactless limit has been expedited by the industry in response to the pandemic. However it will take time for this to take effect, and this may be slowed further as many retailers are already operating at peak capacity.”