How are Contactless Payments processed through terminals?

Contactless payment cards are a method of face-to-face payment. This payment method on both credit and debit cards has become the norm for the majority, consumer habits have now changed. In this blog, we will cover how this payment method works. Read on to find out more.

Basically, a contactless payment card is a method of paying for something. It works by having contactless functionality on both your debit or credit card as well as the device/terminal you are tapping your card on. Allowing the user to pay for items quickly rather than alternative methods such as typing in your PIN code.

How do Contactless Payments work?

Contactless payments work by using a technology called NFC (near field communication). NFC allows the contactless payment card to interact, communicate and process a transaction with the card device/terminal. That’s why you have to hover or tap your card near the device receiving a contactless payment (with the added benefit of providing security also). This NFC technology works by your contactless payment card having a chip within it that stores your details to authenticate a payment. It uses radio waves to communicate with an antenna inside the card device/terminal – this is called radio frequency identification technology (RFID).

How to use a Contactless Payment Card

If your credit or debit card has contactless payment functionality (you can tell this by a symbol with four curved lines that get bigger left to right), it is a very simple process to use. Here, is a step-by-step guide to using contactless payments:

1 – Look for the contactless symbol on the card device/terminal when paying (otherwise known as a card machine or card terminal). This allows you to pay via the contactless payment method.

2 – When instructed to pay, simply tap your contactless payment card on the contactless symbol on the card device/terminal.

3 – Once your transaction has gone through and been approved, there will usually be an indicator of this (such as a green light, or a beep). You can ask the cashier for a receipt to double-check this.

What is the Contactless Payment limit?

Recently, with the pandemic affecting consumer habits, the contactless limit for payments has increased twice in the last two years. Currently, the limit is £100. This was implemented on 15th October which was the second rise since the pandemic started.

The adoption and usage of this payment method has influenced the contactless limits increase – emphasized by the fact when contactless payments were first released the limit was £10. Adoption of this method was slow hence why the limit didn’t increase for eight years. This is what the Chief Executive said about the £100 contactless increase:

“The increase in the limit to £100 will allow people to pay for higher value transactions like their weekly shop or filling up their car with fuel.” –


Contactless Payment Cards are here to stay. Their adoption has seen a dramatic rise due to people’s concerns about handling cash during the COVID-19 pandemic. This, coupled with the limit rising to £100, means that more consumers are using this method of payment and can purchase higher ATV items. Due to the convenience and ease of this method of payment – habits have changed.

We hope this blog has answered any questions you may have about contactless payment cards. If you have any further questions you can email us at [email protected]. If you are interested in accepting contactless payment cards on a card device or terminal, please get in touch via 0333 311 0200.

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