What You Need to Know About Contactless Payments


For the first time, debit cards have overtaken cash payments in the UK, with 13.2 billion payments against 13.1 billion. And a large part of that growth comes from the ever-growing prevalence of contactless payment, making spending quicker and easier than ever before.

With the rise of contactless, there are a few important things worth knowing about using it – things like…

There’s a payment limit of £30

If you’re using contactless, you’re limited to £30 per transaction. This means, it’s best for those quick purchases, such as newspapers, light shopping or travel on the London Underground – it’s not going to replace the classic chip and PIN when it comes to your weekly big shop. However, certain card issuers limit specific cards, typically credit cards, to £20, so be sure to check with your bank. And there’s a very good reason for that spending limit: to protect you from fraud. It also helps you from over-spending in seconds.

It’s a secure payment method

It might not seem it, since you’re waving a card in front of a scanner without signing or inputting a PIN code, but contactless is still just as secure as traditional payments. That’s because both contactless cards and card readers are fitted with anti-fraud technology, and transactions are usually encrypted. It helps with that £30 limit, but for a little extra peace of mind, you can buy wallets and purses lined with metal that purport to block unauthorized contactless payments from portable card readers. Of course, if you believe you’re a victim of fraud, get in touch with your bank.

You don’t just have to use your debit card

It’s not just your debit or credit card that’s imbued with the invisible power of contactless payments: modern mobile phones also employ the near-field contact (NFC) technology. Download the Apple Pay or Google Pay app from your store, enter your card details and you’ll be able to pay on the fly using your smartphone. In addition to this, you can also purchase wearables, especially smart watches, that also allow contactless payments, so you can start to pay just the way you like it.

Not every shop supports contactless

Despite the widespread prevalence of contactless, not every shop has caught up with the technology just yet. Of course, at the rate things are moving, it won’t be long before it’s the payment standard, but until then, be aware that you may still need to use the ol’ chip and Pin to pay. If you’re using contactless on your phone, set your notifications to tell you when you’re at a shop that allows it.

You may need to key in your PIN

Even if the shop you’re at does a-ok your contactless payments, there’s a chance you’ll still have to pop your PIN code in the machine. This usually occurs as another anti-fraud measure, particularly when you’ve used contactless a lot of times in one day. You may also find that the bank’s anti-fraud officers get in touch (or ask you to get in touch) to authorize any payments that get flagged as suspicious. Once you’ve given the thumbs up, you can go back to tapping that reader and paying in seconds.

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