Direct Debit explained

Simple, convenient and safe, Direct Debit is an automated payment method that is preferred by over half of all UK bill payers. Everything you need to know about Direct Debit is explained here. You’ll not just discover how easy it is to set one up – you’ll be able to assess all the benefits that come along with it.

The benefits of Direct Debit

Whether using Direct Debit to pay your household bills or business costs the benefits are the same and worth the few minutes it takes to set up a Direct Debit.
It spreads the costs

Paying your regular bills or business costs by Direct Debit allows you to spread costs over a period that you agree with the organisation you are paying.
It's guaranteed

Direct Debit payments come with a guarantee so you're automatically protected by three important safeguards:

  • An immediate money back guarantee from your bank in the event of an error in the payment of your Direct Debit
  • Advance notice if the date or amount changes
  • The right to cancel at any time.

It can save you money

Businesses find Direct Debit just as convenient and efficient as consumers. For this reason, many offer discounts in return for you paying by Direct Debit.
Discounts vary, but overall Direct Debit savings can add up to a substantial amount each year. It pays to check when you get a bill to see how much you can save.
It gives you peace of mind

Direct Debit is one of the safest and most reassuring ways of paying your bills:

  • Payments are made automatically, so bills are never forgotten, lost in the post or delayed by postal problems and there's no risk of late payment charges
  • Organisations using the Direct Debit scheme have to pass a careful vetting process, and are closely monitored by the banking industry
  • The Direct Debit Guarantee protects you and your money. It's offered by all banks and building societies that take part in the scheme.

It saves you time

Modern life is hectic – but Direct Debit helps. It takes away much of the hassle associated with paying bills, and puts an end to queuing at the bank and filling out cheques. You’ll find it easier to stay on top of your bills, and you’ll know exactly how much money is going out each month. For businesses paying by Direct Debit also means reduced workload and paperwork for your finance department

How to set up a Direct Debit

Paying your regular bills – such as your electricity, mobile phone, and buildings insurance – by Direct Debit will save you time, make life easier and may even be cheaper. Changing to Direct Debit only takes four simple steps.

Step 1 - Contact the organisation you wish to pay

Get in touch with them and ask to set up a Direct Debit. They'll arrange for you to complete a Direct Debit Instruction. This can be done by post, over the phone or online.

Step 2 - Complete the Direct Debit Instruction

You'll need to provide:

  • Your name and address
  • Name and address of your bank or building society
  • Your bank or building society account number
  • The branch sort code of your bank or building society
  • The name(s) on the account.

The organisation will update its payment records and forward the instruction onto your bank or building society. They'll then collect the agreed amounts on the agreed dates.

Step 3 - Check the advance notice details

The organisation will give you advance notice of collection dates and amounts, whether you set up a Direct Debit by telephone, internet or using a paper form. Check these details are correct and contact them straight away if you want to query anything.

Step 4 - Relax

Apart from making sure you've enough money in your account when payment is due, there's nothing more you have to do. Just keep an eye on your bank statement to check that the Direct Debits are being made as agreed.