Contactless limit: how to set a cap on your card payments

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With the cost of living crisis squeezing UK budgets, restricting your contactless card could save you money

But spending became easier in October 2021 as the contactless limit on credit and debit cards was raised from £45 to £100.

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So which financial institutions allow you to set a contactless cap under the new limit – and why do we have a contactless limit in the first place?

Here’s everything you need to know.

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Contactless payment limit in the UK is now £100 (Image: Shutterstock)

Why is there a contactless limit for card payments?

While card issuance can protect us from ourselves, their primary intent is to protect consumers from scammers.

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Contactless is extremely helpful as it makes transactions faster and more convenient.

It also kept us safe from germs during the Covid pandemic as it reduced the amount of keyboards and cash we had to touch.

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But this convenience is also shared by criminals who can access our funds much more easily if they steal our cards or find them after we lose them.

Contactless payments became crucial in the Covid pandemic (Image: Getty Images)

Banks and regulators insist there is no need to worry too much about contactless limits.

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Which banks and providers do not offer a contactless cap?

Not all banks or card providers allow setting a contactless limit.

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Here’s the full list of providers where customers can’t currently set their own limit:

  • American Express
  • Barclays
  • Barclaycard
  • capital one
  • HSBC
  • Monzo
  • nationwide
  • northwest
  • RBS
  • Santander
  • TSB

In the meantime, Barclays has the ability to set spending limits on all transactions through its app.

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American Express, Barclaycard, Capital One and HSBC not only do not offer a personal cap, but also do not allow customers to switch off contactless.

Visa cardholders who have enabled Express Transit Apple Pay mode are at risk (Image: Shutterstock)

At the other banks and providers on the list, contactless switching is possible.

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Most customers can do this in their banking app, online or over the phone.

Those who do may receive a new non-contactless card.

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The banks and providers that offer a contactless cap

Of those that offer the option of a cap, only digital bank Starling offers one for both debit and credit accounts.

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Through the app, users can choose to set a limit of between £10 and £90, or even drop contactless functionality entirely if they wish.

Meanwhile, Bank of Scotland, Halifax, Lloyd’s Bank and MBNA introduced a cap of between £30 and £95 in late 2021.

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Their customers also have the option of completely switching off contactless, but they have to register with online banking to do so.

What about mobile payments?

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Apple Pay and Google Pay have no limit for contactless payments when the payment is authenticated using biometric technology, such as a fingerprint scan.

In fact, however, these transactions may be restricted by retailers and/or card providers.

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What are the rules to stop criminals?

There’s a threshold governing how much money you can spend with contactless cards before you have to verify your identity – something that could limit a criminal if you lose your card or it gets stolen.

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The limit was £130 before October 2021, now it’s £300.

Once card users have reached this limit or make more than five contactless payments in a row with the same card, they must insert their card into the card machine and enter their chip and PIN.

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A chip and PIN is also required if you spend £300 but haven’t verified any of the payments.

While contactless payments in the UK grew by 12% to 9.6 billion payments in 2020, which? found that contactless fraud rates were low.

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They corresponded to less than 2p for every £100 spent in early 2020.

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