Canada Increases Contactless Card Payments 150%

The two leading card payment providers in Canada, Visa and MasterCard, have raised the contactless payment limit in the country to C$250 (US$176) from C$100 (US$70), a 150% increase.

This move, which comes at a time when the world is grappling with the devastating effects of the highly infectious coronavirus, should prove beneficial both in the short and long term.

According to Sasha Krstic, President of MasterCard in Canada, the immediate aim is to limit physical contact as one of the ways to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

“With safety and social distancing top of the mind for all Canadians, this announcement is one of the ways the card network is helping cardholders to shop not only more conveniently but also safely and securely,” she said.

“Once implemented by partners, the increased limits will mean that cardholders can buy more of what they need securely and in a touch-free experience at more merchants across the country,” Sasha continued.

Not Everyone is on Board Yet

Currently, only MasterCard has everything in place to process the new $250 transaction limits. Visa is on board too but hasn’t finalized the plans, meaning it could take a while for Visa cardholders to start enjoying the new limits.

“Visa has not announced yet when the increase will come into effect,” said a source from the Globe and Mail. “But, the company has confirmed that it’s currently putting together the final touches on such plans.”

It’s worth noting that this new limit won’t apply to MasterCard and Visa debit cards since these cards can’t be used at points of sale in Canada. The cards are only used in card-not-present transactions and to process recurring charges, or abroad.

The national debit network Interac Inc., which dominates POS debit in the country, also hasn’t signed up for the new limit increase yet, saying that they’re sticking to their C$100 limit for now. However, the Retail Council of Canada plans to implore them to increase their limits too.

“We’re thrilled that MasterCard and Visa are increasing their cashless limits to $250 so quickly, Karl Littler, Senior VP with the Retail Council, told CTV News Toronto. “Interact should as well.”

Already, Canada is considered one of the most cashless countries globally. In 2018, Canadians made about 11.3 million credit and debit card transactions cashlessly at the point of sale. According to a report, released by Payments Canada last December, the country processes over C$129.9 billion, an equivalent of more than 36% of all their in-store purchases, through contactless payment.


Blair Thomas has been a music producer, bouncer, screenwriter and for over a decade has been the proud Co-Founder of eMerchantBroker, the highest-rated high-risk Canadian merchant account processor. He has climbed in the Himalayas, survived a hurricane, and lived on a gold mine in the Yukon. He currently calls Thailand his home with a lifetime collection of his favorite books.