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. This guide explains the different options and how to use them.

Ways to put money into your account

Pay 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 along with the cheque or cash. Some branches have machines you can use for this as well.

Although modern paying in machines in branch will give you a receipt, beware that some older machines don’t. This could be problematic if there’s a dispute about how much you paid in. If you’re not sure, ask in branch if you’ll get a receipt.

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

You should 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 included 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, free of charge. Because they’ll need to send the cheque to your bank it could take a little longer for it to be paid into your account.

Find out which banking services you can use on the Post Office website.

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.

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, which means money will arrive in your account within two hours of it being paid – and often instantly.

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 wasn’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 - typically £25.

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

Paym
Payments can be made without these details using the Paym – 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 receive payments. Only 15 UK banks offer the Paym system – but this includes all the largest ones.

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 receive them.

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

Cheques

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

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

What your bank will do when you receive a payment

With most banks or building societies there’s no charge for receiving payments. But be aware that some do charge for this. 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 entered to the account
  • any charges or interest that you owe or is owed to you
  • the name of the payer and any details they provided (like 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.
If you have a problem with your bank, read our guide Sort out a money problem or make a complaint.

Find out more

To learn about making payments out of your account or about running your bank account, choose one of the links below.

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