How does contactless payment work?

How does contactless payment work?

author: Dan Griffiths

By Dan Griffiths


Contactless has quickly become one of the most popular ways to pay, and the majority of banks and card providers are dishing out cards with the technology ready to use.

But if you haven’t used it before, you might be wondering just what it is and how it works. Well, we’re here to help.

It’s really quite straightforward to use.


How you pay

If you’re sent a credit or debit card with the contactless symbol on it – it looks something like this )))) – it means you’re able to pay by contactless with your card.

Usually, you’ll have to ring up your bank or card provider or enter your login details online to activate your card.

Once you have, you can pay for goods in shops just by tapping your card on to the card reader.

Many shops now have contactless readers in them. Generally, they look like chip and PIN machines but they usually have an electronic screen on them too. On this, you should be able to see the contactless symbol.

If it has this symbol, you can pay for your shopping with a simple tap of your card on to the screen.


A cap on your spending

Keep in mind that you can only pay for goods if they cost no more than £30.

You can make as many purchases a day as you like, it doesn’t matter if your total spending is more than £30. As long as each transaction is under £30, you won’t have any problems. You might have to put your PIN into the card machine if you’ve made a lot of purchases though, as your card provider may want to make sure it’s definitely you spending.

And of course, if you want to pay for something that costs more than £30, you just use your credit or debit card like normal and pay with your PIN.


It’s available in more than a million places

Across the UK, you’ll find there’s no shortage of places you can pay with your contactless cards.

In fact, there’s more than a million shops and businesses that accept contactless payments, so just keep an eye out for the contactless symbol: ))))

Many of the leading retailers have contactless readers in store, but you can find out more details about where you’ll be able to pay in our blog here.


It might not show up straight away

When you pay for something with contactless, you might not see it on your online banking for a few days.

This is because retailers tend to treat small purchases a little differently to larger buys.

If you make a larger purchase, the retailer usually sends the information to your bank straight away, which means it can appear instantly or very soon after you’ve paid. But this information is delayed when making smaller purchases, so your contactless spending might not show up for a few days.

For this reason, it’s really important that you keep track of your spending – you should anyway! – so you don’t spend more than you can afford. You might get a shock once your contactless purchases show up if you haven’t been keeping track. 

Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.

author: Dan Griffiths

By Dan Griffiths

How does contactless payment work? How does contactless payment work?