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Payments into your bank account

There are several ways to pay cash and cheques into your bank account. People can also transfer money to you directly. It’s worth knowing the different options and how to use them.

Ways to put money into your account

Paying in cash and cheques made out to you

You can pay cash and cheques into your bank account over the counter at your local branch. Just fill in a paying-in form and give it to the cashier, with the cheque or cash. Some branches have machines you can use for this as well.

Although newer paying in machines in branches will give you a receipt, some older machines don’t. This could be a problem if there’s a dispute about how much you paid in. If you’re not sure, ask a member of staff in the branch if you’ll get a receipt.

If you’re paying in a cheque, it needs to be made out in your name.

It’s important to never send cash in the post – but some banks will allow you to pay in cheques by post. You’ll need to enclose a paying-in form, which you can get from your bank. These forms are also sometimes at the back of your chequebook.

If you’re paying in cheques by post, make sure you get the right address from your bank. Many banks will have special addresses for cheques to be sent to.

Paying in cash and cheques at the Post Office

Many banks in the UK allow you to pay in cash and cheques at Post Office branches for free. As they’ll need to send the cheque to your bank, it could take a little longer for it to be paid into your account.

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Paying in cheques through your banking app (cheque imaging)

Some banks make life easier by letting you pay in cheques using their mobile banking app.  If your bank offers this service, you’ll just need to take a photo of the cheque on your phone and fill in an online form.

There is usually a limit to the size and number of cheques you can pay, such as a maximum cheque size of £500-£1,000 per day.

For answers to frequently asked questions on cheque imaging, visit the Cheque & Credit Clearing Company website

Receive money into your account automatically

If you’re expecting money to be paid into your account by a company, or another person, how quickly it arrives will depend on which payment system is used.

Faster payments

Most online payments in the UK use the Faster Payments system. This means money will arrive in your account within two hours of it being paid – it’s often instant.

BACS

If payments are made through the Bankers’ Automated Clearing System (BACS), they take three working days to clear.

CHAPS

If BACS or Faster Payments weren’t used, same day payments can be made using the Clearing House Automated Payment System (CHAPS). While you won’t be charged for receiving a CHAPS payment, there will be a cost for the person who makes the payment. This is usually £25.

Whoever’s paying money into your account will need to know your sort code and account number.

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Payments can be made without these details using Paym – a mobile payments system

If someone is paying money to you using Paym, they’ll only need your mobile phone number.

You’ll need to be registered to use the system with your bank before you can get payments. Only 15 UK banks offer the Paym system – but this includes all the largest ones.

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Paying money from abroad – SWIFT, BIC and IBAN

If someone is paying you money from abroad, they’ll need to know your SWIFT Bank Identification Code (BIC) and International Bank Account Number (IBAN).

You can usually find all these details on your bank statement. Ask your bank if you’re not sure.

When can you get hold of the money?

Cash

If you pay cash into your account, it’s usually available for you to spend on the same day. Your bank might have a cut-off time for this – ask them to find out.

Automated payments

Automated payments are available the day you get them.

This can be up to three business days after someone sends them to you. It’s often quicker with the Faster Payments system.

Cheques

The money usually clears on the next working day (Monday to Friday, not including public holidays).

Paying it in before a bank’s advertised cut-off time can help save an extra day. If you rely on money being paid into your account by cheque, make sure you ask your bank when the money will clear.

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What your bank will do when you get a payment

Most banks and building societies don’t charge for receiving payments. But be aware that some do. If they do, they have to tell you.

Your bank will give you the details of the payment, either on your statement or in your online account.

This includes:

  • the amount of the payment
  • the date the payment went into the account
  • any charges or interest that you owe, or is owed to you
  • the name of the payer and any details they provided, such as a payment reference
  • the original amount and the exchange rate – if you were paid in a foreign currency.

Things to look out for on payments into your account

Some cheques paid in late in the day might not be processed until the next working day.

If money is paid into your account by mistake, the bank or building society can take it back again – you don’t get to keep it. It’s worth contacting them to let them know.

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MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free, impartial help for all your money and pension choices. Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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