What are the rules for contactless card payments?

As contactless card payment popularity increases what do you need to know about using and accepting these payments?


More than half of consumer payments in the UK last year were made by card and contactless technology, according to UK Finance.

Of the 40 billion payments made in 2019, 51% were made by credit, debit and charge cards, with 16% paid using contactless payments.

This means that the UK is now a majority card-based society.

And the use of contactless payments could accelerate even quicker than predicted from now, with the events of recent months solidifying consumers’ preference towards contactless card payments, according to UK Finance’s chief executive Stephen Jones.

With the use of contactless card payments on the rise, what do you need to know about the rules surrounding this type of payment?

In this blog we’ll go through the main rules around contactless payments, from a business and consumer point of view.

Q1 - What is the spending limit on contactless cards?

When first launched in 2007, contactless cards had a maximum spend limit of just £10, allowing for small purchases to be made quickly and easily. This limit increased incrementally and stayed at £30 from 2015 onwards.

In April this year, the limit was increased to £45, as a result of restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. A rise on the contactless limit had been in development for over two years, but the increase was brought forward to help make payments safer during the pandemic.

There have been no announcements of future proposed rises to the limit.

Q2 - Why did the limit on contactless card payments increase?

As a safer and more hygienic way to pay, many shoppers are now choosing to pay using contactless cards and mobile wallets.

Especially since the outbreak of COVID-19, minimising contact with other shoppers and machinery in-store has become a high priority.

Contactless card payments are the perfect solution. There’s no need to touch any payment hardware, consumers can simply tap their card to pay.

The rise was made in consultation with retailers, to help shoppers deal with the challenge of COVID-19 and improve convenience in retail stores.

Q3 - Is there a limit on the number of times a contactless card can be used in a day?

Consumers can use contactless payments an unlimited number of times per day.

For security purposes, they will be automatically asked to confirm their PIN after a certain number of transactions, to reduce the risk of fraud.

Q4 - Can my business still accept cash payments?

Of course.

You can still accept cash alongside contactless card payments; however government advice recommends encouraging contactless transactions whenever possible.

Some businesses chose to go entirely cash-free during the pandemic.

Q5 - How do I get a card terminal to accept contactless payments if I don’t have one?

To be able to accept contactless payments, you will need the help of a merchant services provider like Handepay.

We’re here to offer friendly advice on how to get started accepting contactless card payments at the best possible price.

All of our card machines accept contactless cards and mobile wallets as standard.

Q6 - How do I tell if my current card payment terminal accepts contactless payments?

When you’ve keyed in a transaction, your card machine screen should pop up with the below contactless symbol and message, encouraging your customer to pay with a tap.

Contactless payment

Customer being served at bar paying contactless using phone

Q7 - Is there a best place to put my contactless card machine in store?

Depending on which type of card machine you use, there are different ways to accept contactless payments.

If you use a contactless countertop card machine, it is advised to display this facing the customer at your point of sale.

As countertop machines are fixed to one location, finding a position where customers can easily reach it is key.

Using a portable contactless card machine allows you to take payments anywhere on your premises. This gives you more control over how you make sales, whether it’s at the table, at a desk or out on the shop floor.

These contactless payment machines could be better if you need to accept multiple payments at once - like at a restaurant or large retailer.

Mobile contactless card machines give you the freedom to accept payments on the go. Your terminal can function anywhere there’s a GPRS signal, meaning that your contactless payment options are almost unlimited.

Q8 - What information do I need to give to customers?

Make sure your customers know that contactless card payments are available at your store.

You can use window stickers and outdoor displays to advertise your contactless capabilities to customers before they enter your premises.

Displaying contactless signage near your preferred payment location allows shoppers to be ready to pay, speeding up queues and improving your payment process.


Mac Tools owner in van holding out Handepay Card Payment Machine

Whether you already accept contactless card payments or want to start taking them for the first time, we’re here to help.

With a range of cost-effective contactless card machines, we provide the perfect payment solution for businesses of all sizes. Get in touch with one of our friendly advisors today!

Financial disclaimer:

Terminal hire contracts are provided by Merchant Rentals Limited, who is authorised and regulated in the UK by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for Consumer Hire under FRN 720500. Terminal hire can be for consumer hire and non-regulated hire contracts. Please check your contract carefully for details. Regulation of all consumer hire fall under the control of the FCA.

Handepay Ltd is authorised and regulated by the FCA for Consumer Credit under FRN 673564. Handepay is a credit broker for consumer hire not a lender.

Handepay acts as an introducer of card acquiring services on behalf of EVO Payments UK, the card acquiring service provider. EVO Payments UK is the trading name of EVO Payments UK Ltd, a payment institution that is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN number 959332).

Existing Cards Businesses- The one-month rolling terminal hire contract from Merchant Rentals is only available to businesses that are switching from their current acquirer to EVO Payments UK arranged through Handepay.

New to Cards Businesses- The 12-month terminal hire contract from Merchant Rentals is only available to businesses that are new to card payments and wish to receive acquiring services from EVO Payments UK, arranged through Handepay.

The Next Day Banking Settlement service provided by EVO Payments UK incurs an additional fee of £4 a month on top of your acquiring service charges and fees. Provided your card machine performs a reconciliation before 12am (midnight), you’ll receive settlement of funds the next banking day.

Editorial disclaimer:

The information we provide does not constitute financial advice and might not apply to your business. Always carry out research into your business’ needs when choosing a new merchant services provider.

Sometimes, we link to other third-party websites to provide you with additional information. At the time of publication, we consider the information accurate, however, we do not have control over their content and are not responsible if any information on these websites change.

The products we display on our website are for illustrative purposes only - if your business requires additional facilities, you may receive a different model than advertised.

All of the information contained on this website, including fees, services and functionality, are correct at time of publishing. E&OE.