“Tap & Go” Contactless payment limit rises to £30

Contactless CardFrom today the ceiling for contactless payments has risen to £30, up until now it’s been £20.

Don’t expect to be able to go out this afternoon and start spending up to the higher limit however, in order for retailers to start accepting £30 contactless payments they’ll first have to perform a software update on all of their point of sale terminals. It could be weeks or months until the new limit is available everywhere.

This is going to make the shopping experience confusing for consumers – in one shop they’ll be able to spend more than in others without having to enter their PIN number, and of course for Apple Pay customers in Apple stores there appears to be no ceiling – you can buy anything you like regardless of cost and tap and go.

When contactless payments were first introduced in 2007 the limit was £10, this was increased to £15 in 2010 and then to £20 in 2012. From the 1st September 2015 the limit will be £30.

Contactless payments are growing fast, the UK Cards Association says that there were more contactless payments in the first nine months of 2014 than in the previous six years combined and more than £2.5 billion was spent using contactless cards in the first half of 2015.

There are now more than 69 million contactless payment cards in circulation with over 9.3 million contactless payment cards were issued to consumers between January and June 2015. However whilst you may have to wait until your debit or credit card expires for your bank to replace your current card with a contactless version, those with the latest iPhone can already use ApplePay and sooner or later Samsung Pay will also launch in the UK giving more options to convert traditional cards into contactless via a mobile wallet.

By 2020 all retailers will have to accept contactless payments, which whilst for some retailers, especially those who operate market stalls, pop-up shops and trade fairs might be a pain, but will at least end the “minimum £5 spend for card transaction” signs that prevent you buying your daily newspaper or enjoying a refreshing alcoholic beverage in an enticing local drinking establishment.