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14 Dec 2018

How much is the limit on Apple Pay at Tesco and high street retailers?

Find out where you can and can't make contactless high-value payments with your phone

Tesco is about to scrap the £30 limit on Apple Pay contactless transactions - but where else can you spend over the normal contactless limit?

Purchases made using contactless technology on credit and debit cards are capped at £30, but the security built into digital wallets used on smartphones and smartwatches allows your linked cards to exceed this.

Which? explains what's changing for Tesco customers, the retailers allowing you to exceed the £30 contactless limit and if it is safe to use digital wallets for purchases over £30.

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Why is Tesco making the change?

Tesco announced the change as customers complained on Twitter about the store's policy to not accept high-value contactless payments on Apple Pay.

It said: 'We are currently in the process of trialling high-value contactless payment with Apple Pay in a few of our stores and will be looking to extend this offer to the rest of our stores estate over the coming year.'

Tesco told Which? it's planning to roll out accepting contactless payments of more than £30 for Apple Pay in due course, but it will need to be supported by some broader technical work. Ithadn't confirmed if Google Pay and Samsung Pay would also be included at the time of writing.

In the meantime, it said customers can use Tesco Pay+, which works in a similar way to Apple Pay by allowing customers to link a debit or credit card to pay and collect Clubcard points by scanning once.

Currently, you can earn one additional Clubcard point for every £4 spent for transactions up to £250.

What is the contactless payment limit?

The contactless limit on debit and credit cards is £30 in the UK.

However, contactless transactions made using a card stored in your digital wallet like Apple Pay, Google Pay or Samsung Pay via your smartphone or smartwatch have no limits - in theory.

In practice, card providers such as Visa, Mastercard or American Express can impose a limit on the amount you can charge as a contactless transaction using your smartphone or smartwatch.

In addition, some retailers put in place a contactless limit of £30, even if you choose to pay with your digital wallet, as their terminals may not be able to support higher transaction.

Where can you spend more than the contactless limit?

We asked supermarkets, coffee shops and other high street retailers about their policy on the contactless limit for Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay transactions.

The table below shows where you can and can't spend more than the normal £30 contactless limit using your digital wallet.

Retailer Can you spend more than the £30 contactless limit with Apple Pay, Google Pay or Samsung Pay?
John LewisYes

*Only for linked Mastercard, Maestro or Amex. Visa or Visa Electron linked cards will require chip and Pin over £30.

**Rollout to Apple Pay coming this year

Are digital wallets safe?

Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay feature the same security as contactless payments you make with a physical card.

When you add a card to any of these digital wallets, the details are encrypted and stored on your device, rather than external servers.

All three firms say they replace your card's information with a device account number or a 'token', which means your real card information isn't ever shared during transactions.

To authorise the payment, you need to use a facial scan, fingerprint, Pin or a password. This creates an extra barrier compared to a contactless payment using a physical credit or debit card.

All three types of digital wallet also allow you to wipe your information from your device if it is lost or stolen using another device.