They are automatic payments from your bank account. They can stop you missing a payment and take away the hassle of paying manually. Here is how they work and when you can use them.
They both let you set up an automatic payment from your bank account to another account. The payment goes out regularly, usually once a month.
The difference is:
Direct debits are used to pay companies, usually for bills. They give the company permission to take whatever amount they need each time.
Standing orders are used to send money to any UK bank account. They are for the same amount each time, and you control them yourself through your bank.
Both help you to avoid missing payments because they come out of your account automatically. You just need to make sure there is enough money in your account to cover the amount each time.
This depends on your bank. They could refuse to send the money and charge you a fee. If the payment is for a bill, you may also have to pay a fee to the company you owe money to.
Alternatively, the payment could go ahead but put you in your overdraft, which could also come with a fee from your bank.
You usually have to be older than 16 or 18 to use them. You can send both types of payment from:
Standing orders let you control the payment yourself through your bank, but direct debits are useful for paying bills because the company can take the exact amount they need.
Here are some of the ways you can use each payment type:
|Direct debit||Standing order|
|Paying utility bills||Regular payments to a person you know|
|Mortgage or loan payments||Regular payments to your savings account|
|Insurance premiums||Paying your rent|
|Paying for subscriptions like Spotify||Contributing to a charity|
You can set direct debits up to automatically pay bills straight from your bank account.
They come out of your account regularly, usually once a month, and the amount can change each time.
You can pay bills from businesses like:
Your mortgage lender
Your utility suppliers
A company you have a subscription with, e.g. a gym or music streaming service
The amount needed is taken from your account directly by the business, which means you do not control the amount paid. However, they must tell you how much they will take in advance, usually with a bill, email or online statement.
Some companies like utility providers charge you less if you pay by direct debit.
However, paying for insurance premiums or large purchases usually costs less if you pay for them upfront. This is because companies charge you a higher price if you spread the cost over several months or more with a direct debit.
You can only set up a direct debit through the company you need to pay. You can do this online, by phone, by post or by filling out a form in person to confirm:
|Your name||Your bank account number|
|Your address||Your sort code|
|Your bank's name and address||The name on your bank account|
You can contact the company you pay to cancel a direct debit or change details, like the date they take the money.
You could also cancel it by contacting your bank, but the company could charge you a cancellation fee.
It protects your money when you use direct debits. Every company that offers them has to sign up to the Direct Debit Guarantee. This offers the following protection:
You can cancel a direct debit whenever you need to
You get at least ten days' notice before any changes to the amount, frequency or date of your payment
A full immediate refund if your bank or the company you pay make an error
When you set up a new payment you should be given a copy of the Direct Debit Guarantee.
You can set up a standing order to send the same amount of money to another account in the UK on a regular date.
For example, you could send £100 on the first day of every month to your savings account.
You can use them to pay an account in the name of:
Another person like a relative or your landlord
A business or charity
The amount stays the same unless you change it, and they can last until a date of your choice or until you cancel it.
The funds usually arrive on the same day because they are sent through the bank's faster payments service, which is also used if you make a bank transfer online.
You can set up standing orders yourself through your bank either:
In a branch
You need to provide the following details:
|The amount||The destination account number|
|The start date||The destination sort code|
|How often the payment is made||The destination account name|
Contact your bank or log in to your online banking if you need to cancel a standing order or amend its:
If you switch to a new current account with another bank, your direct debits and standing orders will be automatically moved over to your new account.
This means all your payments can continue from your new account without you needing to change them yourself.
No, it is free to set them up on your account. However, there are fees if a payment fails because there is not enough money in your account.
Logging into your online banking is the quickest way to check them, but your bank can also confirm them by phone or in writing.
Banks do not usually limit the number you can have. You just need to make sure there is enough money in your account to cover them all.
Yes, the wrong amount could be sent or it could be sent twice, but this is very rare. Your bank must refund you, so make sure you report it to them.
If you cancel a direct debit, you can claim the money back if the company still takes it. However, if you owe them money you will still have to pay them.
No, they leave on the specified day, e.g. the 1st of each month, except weekends or bank holidays when it leaves on the next working day instead.
New bank accounts are launched all the time, so compare all of the best options to make sure you get the right one for your circumstances.