Contactless payment allowance could increase to £100 - but is it safe?

Wednesday, 27th January 2021, 2:43 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th January 2021, 2:44 pm
Contactless payment allowance could increase to £100 - but is it safe? (Photo: Shutterstock)
Contactless payment allowance could increase to £100 - but is it safe? (Photo: Shutterstock)

You could soon be able to make payments of up to £100 using contactless technology, taking the limit to more than double its current level.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) will be launching a consultation on the matter soon, which could see the current limit of £45 for contactless transactions raised to £100.

This would not automatically mean that all contactless cards would be able to be used for £100 transactions, however. While the upper limit is set by the FCA, individual banks and other card issues would set their own limits within the FCA’s boundaries.

Covid spending

The use of contactless payment technology has increased during the pandemic, particularly after the upper limit was increased by the FCA from £30 to £45.

This was done to protect retail staff and others who take payment from the public regularly, by reducing the need to pass money or card readers between people and risk spreading infection.

While spending generally is down versus previous years, due to lockdowns and other Covid-related factors, the amount being spent through contactless transactions has increased.

Longer term trends show contactless payment becoming more and more popular each year.

In a statement, the FCA said: “It is important that payments regulation keeps pace with consumer and merchant expectations.

“Recognising changing behaviour in how people pay, as part of a wider consultation, we will shortly be seeking views on amending our rules to allow for a possible increase in the contactless limit to £100.”

Are contactless payments safe?

In terms of the technology used to process contactless payments, it is as secure and safe as using your PIN.

The risks associated with contactless cards are more to do with having someone take the card from you, or potentially processing a payment using a terminal in public.

While the rate of contactless fraud is relatively low, there are still some steps you can take to make it less likely to happen to you.

Consumer credit reporting agency Equifax recommends the following steps to reduce the risk of contactless card fraud:

  • Don’t keep cards loose in easily accessible pockets or areas which can be spotted by pickpockets
  • If you spend much time on crowded public transport then it might be worth lining your wallet or card holder with tin foil, or using a product like an RFID reader, to prevent someone trying to charge your card while it is in your pocket
  • Keep an eye on your card at all times during transactions, to make sure the vendor isn’t using a skimming device to copy the card’s data
  • Check your receipts to make sure you were charged the correct amount and not charged more than once