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Dublin: 8 °C Friday 5 June, 2020

You can now tap your card for purchases up to €50 - plus more tips for safer shopping

Including how to use your phone or smart watch to pay.

Image: Shutterstock/Tyler Olson

STARTING FROM TODAY, Wednesday April 1, you’ll be able to tap your debit or credit card for contactless payments of up to €50 in most essential retail outlets around Ireland - an increase from the previous limit of €30.

The limit extension should add some convenience to your next shopping trip, but it’s an important safety measure in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic too. Irish supermarket retailers have been united in their call-outs for shoppers to avoid using cash right now, and to stick to contactless payments where possible. 

“Banks, retailers and tech companies worked together to facilitate the increase to the limit, in response to COVID-19. The aim is to cut down the number of cash transactions,” says Fergal O’Riagain, director of products at KBC. 

As efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 continue, we’ve quickly become accustomed to seeing disinfecting stations at supermarket entrances, and social distancing markers at checkouts.

In light of the increased contactless payment limit, what else can you be doing to protect yourself, your fellow shoppers and supermarket staff? Here are some smart shopping tips to follow…

1. Put simply, get into the habit of tapping your card more

Last week saw a drop of 20% in cash payments around the country, meaning people are taking heed of retailer guidelines, but there’s more we can do. If you automatically reach for the terminal to put your PIN in at the checkout, use the new extension to the contactless limit as an opportunity to rethink your routines. “Contactless payments are safer in a lot of ways,” says O’Riagain.

You’re not making contact with the card terminal, but you’re also avoiding the risk of anyone seeing your PIN.

shutterstock_236584129 Source: Shutterstock/Robert Kneschke

2. Need a higher limit? Tap your smartphone instead

If your smartphone allows for the use of digital wallets from Apple Pay™ or Google Pay™ – allowing you to tap your phone the same way you would your debit or credit card – now is a great time to set one up. “One big advantage of a digital wallet is that the €50 limit doesn’t apply,” says O’Riagain. With KBC, for example, digital wallets are free, and customers can tap their smartphone up to their daily card spend limit of €2,500. It’s safer than a card, he adds:

Payment is authorised with your thumbprint or Face ID depending on your smartphone model, so even if someone were to pick up your phone, they wouldn’t be able to make a payment with it.

3. Or go entirely hands-free by tapping your smart watch

Near field communication, or NFC, is the technology that allows you to tap your bank card at the shop, or your Leap Card on the bus. Many newer wearables – including Apple Watch, Fitbit, Garmin, SONY Wena and a whole host of Android-enabled watches - come equipped with NFC too. Add your bank card in a few minutes, and you could be paying for your shopping with a quick tap of your wrist. “With the cost of wearables coming down, we’re seeing many more customers using this free contactless option,” says O’Riagain. 

shutterstock_328411544 Source: Shutterstock/Tyler Olson

4. In general, avoid handling cash as much as possible

Cutting out paper money and coins entirely may not be possible for some people, but the more you can stick to the guidelines, the better. “Cash travels around several people in one day,” notes O’Riagain. “It’s a high-touch method of payment, whereas your card and digital wallet are both low-touch.” 

5. Make a list before you head to the shop

Payment methods aside, taking a more streamlined approach to your shopping will make the whole experience smoother. A smart tip here from Dublin Food Co-Op: do a kitchen and household stocktake before you leave, and write up a clear list so you know exactly what you’re going in for. With most retailers now operating a one in, one out system, spending less time inside the supermarket will be of benefit to everyone.

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6. And of course, avoid bulk-buying

“No need to do all shopping or stockpile this morning… The supplies are good,” Taoiseach Leo Varadkar tweeted over the weekend, as a reminder that now is not the time to panic buy. Instead of filling your trolley with multiple packs of loo roll, do your bit to protect yourself and your fellow shoppers by sticking to your usual shopping list and avoiding bulk-buying.

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