How to transfer money from your bank account

A bank transfer is when money is sent from one bank account to another. Transferring money from your bank account is usually fast, free and safer than withdrawing and paying in cash.

How to make a bank transfer

There are a number of ways you can make a bank transfer.

Some of the most common bank transfer methods are:

Online bank transfers

Log in to your online account and select the option for making a payment. Follow the instructions on screen to enter the correct details. Some banks also offer smartphone apps that allow you to transfer money. Find out how to set up an online account in our guide How to stay safe when using online banking.

Telephone transfers

Call your bank’s telephone banking service. The bank’s customer services representative will guide you through the process. In some cases, you might be guided through by an automated recording.

In-branch bank transfers

If you have the money in cash, you can pay it into the account of the person you owe it to in a branch.

What details do you need to transfer money?

However you choose to transfer money, you’ll usually need the following details of the person or organisation you’re paying:

  • The date you want the payment to be made.
  • Name of the person or business you’re paying.
  • Six-digit sort code of the account you’re paying.
  • Eight-digit account number of the account you’re paying.
  • A payment reference (often your name or customer number) to let them know the money came from you.
  • Sometimes you’ll need the name and address of the bank you’re sending the money to. This helps them to check that sort code is right.

How long does it take for the money to be transferred?

Payments made using Faster Payments will sometimes be received immediately after leaving your account. But can take up to two hours.

This option is free, available 24 hours a day and typically used in online banking, mobile apps, over the phone or in branch.

Most banks let you transfer at least £10,000, but some have much higher limits.

You can check your bank’s limit on the Faster Payments website

You could also use:

  • Bacs payments. These take up to three working days to clear. Find out more on the UK Finance website
  • CHAPS (Clearing House Automated Payment System). Payments will go through on the same day, as long the transfer is made by a certain time. CHAPS payments often charge a fee. Find out more on the Bank of England website 
  • E-Payments. You can use providers such as PayPal or Google Pay to send money online if you’re uncomfortable sharing your bank details. Find out more in our guide E-payments – why, when and how to use them

What does confirmation of payee mean?

This is a new scheme offered by most high-street (and online) banks to give you more protection when sending money by bank transfer.

When you try to make a bank transfer to a person you haven’t paid before, your bank will check that the name you’ve been given matches the name registered to that account number and sort code.

If it doesn’t, your bank will warn you, either that the name is a close match or that it’s totally incorrect. If this happens, double check you have the correct bank details as this could be the sign that a scammer is trying to trick you into sending them money.

For now, confirmation of payee only works for faster payments and CHAPS. It doesn’t yet work for BACS. You can check if your bank is offering the scheme on the UK Finance website

Avoiding issues with bank transfers

Double-check the details

Check every figure – even if your bank preloads them. It can be difficult to get your money back if you send it to the wrong account (more on this below). It can also be worthwhile making a much smaller "test payment" of £1 or less before transferring the full amount.

Get the person on the phone to repeat figures and names

If you’re doing a transfer through your telephone banking service, ask the person taking your call to repeat every number and letter to you.

Beware of going overdrawn

Unless you’ve stated a future payment date, the money will leave your account straight away. So make sure you have enough available to avoid expensive fees.

Pay attention to ‘confirmation of payee’ warnings

As explained above, if the name you’ve been given doesn’t match to the name registered to those account details you might be dealing with a scammer. Take care before making the payment.

Other ways to pay

If you need to make a payment frequently, for example a monthly energy bill, you might be better off setting up a Direct Debit or standing order.

Cheques can also be a useful way to send money or pay one-off bills.

What if there’s a problem?

If you have a problem with a payment – for example, if the money doesn’t arrive – your first step is to contact your bank.

Your bank won’t be able to stop the payment if it’s already been made. Keep a record of all correspondence you have with your bank while sorting the problem. And make a note of the error, including the date it was made and the bank details you sent the money to.  

Your bank will start investigating within two working days of you telling them about it – it doesn’t matter if the error didn’t happen recently.

After the bank investigates, your money should be returned within 20 working days. If it’s clear it was a genuine mistake, your bank will contact the bank you mistakenly sent the money to get your money back.

If there are issues – for example,  if the person you accidentally sent it to refuses to return it – your bank will let you know the result of their investigation within 20 working days from the date you reported the error.

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MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
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Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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