How we pay in the UK: Contactless reaping benefits of £30 spend limit increase

contactless card is being held over an NFC terminal

In just under a year since the contactless spend limit was increased from £20 to £30, spending using the technology has increased by 173% by value and 112% by volume, according to latest figures from Barclaycard.

The amount spent by Barclaycard customers using contactless technology has multiplied 2.7 times so far this year.


Hey ‘Silver Spenders’

The age-group seeing the largest uptake of contactless payments are the over-60s, referred to Barclaycard as  the ‘silver spenders‘, with the number of users up 114%, more than any other age group.

In fact, usage is increasing so rapidly in this age group that the number of silver spenders using the technology is now greater than those aged 18-25, says Barclaycard.

Men and women are adopting the tech in equal measures with usage increasing by 67% in both genders since the limit was increased.


Everyday payments

Barclaycard’s data enforces the idea that contactless payments is changing people’s payment habits. The increase of the spending limit has led to an increase in frequency of every day payments. the average amount Barclaycard customers spend in each transaction has also jumped, rising 29 per cent from £6.77 to £8.70.




Overall, London tops the national table with almost four in 10 (39%) of all card transactions of £30 and under now paid for with contactless.

“Usage in the capital is largely due to more merchants accepting the technology, together with the popularity of contactless across the Transport for London Network, and with the night tube having launched last week and set for expansion in the Autumn, this figure could soon shoot up yet again,” said Barclaycard.

However, other cities are doing their best to catch up and are seeing large increases in spending. The trend of Scottish cities being keen adopters continues as Glasgow has seen the biggest increase, with the city’s residents spending 291 per cent more so far this year compared to last.

Barclaycard table showing UK cities and the percentage increase of contactless adoption

Source: Barclaycard

Tami Hargreaves, Commercial Director, Digital Consumer Payments at Barclaycard, said:

“The £30 spending threshold has increased the popularity of contactless payments amongst both existing and new users, both of whom are now using it more frequently and for higher amounts.”

She added that the data shows shoppers are taking advantage of paying quickly and easily for everyday goods and services such as a few drinks after work or a basket of groceries on their way home.


2016 has already bettered 2015

The figures coincide with the latest UK Cards Association data, which found that spending in just the first six months of 2016 already outstripped contactless spending for the whole of 2015.

Between January and June, the British public spent £9.27 billion using contactless technology, more than the total 2015 contactless spend of £7.75 billion.

The numbers are just as impressive in terms of transactions in the first six months of 2016 there have been 1.1 billion transactions made. Only 1.05 billion were made in all of 2015.

In June 2015, contactless made up just 7% of all the transactions made that month. In June 2016 it was 18%.

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 11.53.46

Source: UKCA

Richard Koch, Head of Policy at the UKCA, said:

“Contactless cards are firmly entrenched as the preferred way to pay for millions of consumers, who expect to be able to use them for everyday purchases. We anticipate the use of contactless cards will continue to increase, particularly as charities and transport operators outside London recognise the benefits this technology can bring.”

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