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28 Sep 2021

Which banks will allow you to control your contactless card limit?

Lloyds Bank, Halifax and Bank of Scotland customers will be able to adjust their limits down to £30

Lloyds Bank, Halifax and Bank of Scotland customers will be able to set their own contactless card limits from next month when the higher £100 cap comes into force.

From 15 October, the contactless card limit will rise from £45 to £100. However, customers of the three banks - which are all part of the Lloyds Banking Group - will be able to use their mobile banking app to set their limits between £30, up to £95.

Here, Which? looks at why the banking group is allowing personalised limits, and whether other banks will follow suit.

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Why is Lloyds Banking Group setting personalised contactless limits?

Lloyds Banking Group has introduced personalised limits to help keep customers safe from criminals seeking to exploit their finances.

The default limit will be £100 but customers will also be able to toggle contactless functionality on and off or adjust the limit in increments of £5 starting from £30 - lower than the current contactless limit. If customers turn it off completely, they will need to enter a Pin when making card transactions.

Currently, under the £45 limit on contactless card transactions, card issuers restrict cumulative payments that can be made before a Pin is requested at £130. From 15 October the £100-per-transaction limit will see card issuers raise the cumulative payment cap to £300, which has raised concerns that the jump could put consumers at an increased risk of fraud if the card is stolen.

So, if your card is stolen the higher limit means thieves may be able to spend more on your card before they're asked for a Pin. And that's providing the cumulative cap kicks in. Which? research from 2016 found that some banks failed to enforce the limit on contactless transactions.

Philip Robinson, personal current accounts, payments and fraud and financial crime director at the banks, said: 'We've listened to customer feedback to introduce this option which will allow them to make the most of the £100 limit in a way that works for them.'

Are any other banks offering contactless limit control?

Which? contacted major UK banks to find out if they would also be offering customers the chance to control the contactless limits on their cards.

Starling Bank says it will be introducing a new control feature to allow customers to set their own contactless payment limit when the new £100 limit is introduced. Customers will be able to select a limit of their choice between £0 and £100, in £10 increments via a new control feature in the app. Customers will also be able to turn off contactless payments entirely by setting the limit at £0.

Nationwide told us it is planning to provide members with the ability to turn off contactless if they would like to do so, which they will be able to request via branch, contact centre or via online secure chat. It said it's also looking at offering members the ability to manage their contactless limit in the future.

NatWest Group - which includes Royal Bank of Scotland, NatWest and Ulster Bank - said customers can already choose to turn off the contactless limit using its mobile banking app, but it didn't comment on whether it will introduce personalised limits.

Barclays told Which? that customers are able to set their own spend transaction limits to an amount of their choice, through their Barclays app. Setting their own transaction limit will reduce their spending (across all payments including contactless, chip & Pin and online) to an amount of their choosing.

A Metro Bank spokesperson told Which?: 'Metro Bank doesn't currently have plans to allow customers to set individual limits on their contactless cards. However, we have a range of safeguards in place across our channels in order to protect customers against fraud.'

We'll update this story if we receive further information from other providers.

Can you opt-out of having a contactless card?

Many providers allow you to opt-out of having a contactless card, but when we checked in October 2020 we found some big-name banks and credit card providers don't, including American Express, Metro Bank, Capital One, Starling and Monzo.

Some banks which offer both credit and debit cards allow you to opt-out of either just your credit card or debit card. Barclays allows you to opt-out of contactless on its debit card but not on Barclaycard credit cards, for example.

  • Find out more: you can find the full list of banks and credit card providers that will allow you to opt-out in our guide to contactless payments.

How common is contactless card fraud?

Contactless fraud rates are really low, equivalent to less than 2p in every £100 spent in early 2020. This is lower than the level recorded in 2018 (2.7p) and represents just 2.8% of overall card fraud.

Banks should refund money that has been fraudulently taken from your card and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) says it will take enforcement action if it finds banks are allowing breaches of the cumulative transaction limit.

What to do if your contactless card is lost or stolen

If you lose your card or think it might have been stolen, then you should contact your bank straight away so that it can cancel your card. You can do this over the phone, or usually via your bank's mobile app with a few taps.

According to the FCA, almost all contactless card transactions are processed online, which means they should go to your bank for authorisation.

Once the card 'checks in' online with the bank it will disable the card if it has been reported lost or stolen. If a fraudster manages to find a loophole to use your lost or stolen card, your bank should investigate this. Your bank should refund you in full for any money that has been fraudulently taken from your card, but you must report it missing immediately as this could impact your claim.

If your card provider can show that you've been grossly negligent, it can refuse to refund you any money. If your contactless card has been used fraudulently and you're refused a refund, follow our step-by-step guide to get your money back.