The contactless payment limit is to more than double to £100.
The changes in Wednesday’s Budget will see the legal single contactless payment limit raised from £45 to £100.
While legally in force from Wednesday, the increase will not happen immediately as firms will need to make systems changes.
The banking industry will implement the new £100 limit later this year.
The Government said the increase has been made possible by the UK’s exit from the European Union, which means it is no longer bound by EU rules on the maximum limit for contactless payment, which is currently set at £45.
“Tap and go” contactless cards initially had a limit of £10 in 2007, and this was increased to £15 in 2010, £20 in 2012 and £30 in 2015. The limit was raised to £45 last April, in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic.
2007 - £10
2010 - £15
2012 - £20
2015 - £30
2020 - £45
2021 - £100
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “As we begin to open the UK economy and people return to the high street, the contactless limit increase will make it easier than ever before for people to pay for their shopping, providing a welcome boost to retail that will protect jobs and drive growth across the UK.”
The announcement could further accelerate the decline of physical cash use, with banknotes and coins already having been shunned during the coronavirus pandemic. A Bank of England study last year indicated the risk of catching coronavirus from banknotes is low.
The Government has pledged to legislate to protect the future of cash.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) held a public consultation on contactless limits and recommended the change.
Eight out of 10 UK adults used contactless payments in 2019, and the increase in contactless limits will mean millions of payments will now be made simpler, the Government said.
Pete Wickes, general manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at payments processing company Worldpay from FIS, said: “It is vital that shops and businesses have sufficient time to implement the changes given the current extraordinary operating conditions.
“Some consumers will also need time to adjust. Our research reveals that around 40% of UK consumers still have lingering doubts about contactless security. Education will be key.”
David Postings, chief executive of trade association UK Finance, said: “This is a great move for customers and will allow them to use contactless to pay for higher value transactions like their weekly shop or filling up their car with fuel.
“This could not have been achieved whilst still in the EU so is a true Brexit dividend. We will work closely with the payments sector and retailers ahead of increasing the limit later this year.”