You can send money from your account to someone else's using a bank transfer. Transferring money from your bank account is quicker and easier than drawing out cash or paying using a cheque. However, there are some precautions you need to take to keep your money safe.

What do I need to make a bank transfer?

In order to make transfers online, you need to have set up online banking. The exact steps to take will vary depending on your bank, but you usually need to include:

  • the amount you want to send
  • the full name of the person you’re sending money to
  • their 6-digit sort code
  • their 8-digit account number
  • a payment reference (usually your name, so the person knows who sent them money)
  • whether you want the money to be sent right away

Money sent using the 'Faster Payments' through online banking on your smartphone app will reach the recipient’s account within 2 hours, and sometimes it's received immediately.

Once you have sent money to someone once, their details will be stored and you won’t need to enter them next time. Not all banks allow you to set up a new payee via their mobile app, so you’ll need to login to online banking on a computer. Some may also require you to use a card reader to verify it's you setting up the transfer.

How can I check my bank transfer is safe?

Stop and double-check before making any payments. Do you know the person you're sending money to? Has someone phoned you out of the blue asking for money or claiming to be from your bank? Have you been put under pressure to make a payment? If something doesn't feel right, it's fine to stop and check the situation with someone you know and trust.

Some banks now have a warning when you transfer money to someone. This prompts you to think twice that the person you are sending money to is genuine, and double-check the details are correct.

If you're happy that the payment is to someone you know and trust, check the amount and the name and account details of the recipient before you send it. Ask the person who you're sending money to, to repeat their bank details. If you enter the details wrong, it can unfortunately be very difficult to get your money back.

How do I set up a direct debit or standing order?

Setting up a direct debit or standing order is a good way to automate payments from your bank account.

What's a standing order?

Standing orders automatically send money from your account. They are helpful if you regularly need to pay someone a set amount, for example, if someone does your shopping or pays your bills for you.

What's a direct debit?

Direct debits give a company permission to take money from your account on a certain date, for example, for paying your energy bills. The amount may differ each time, so companies should tell you in advance how much they'll take and when.

You can set up standing orders through online banking. You'll need the following information:

  • the amount you want to send
  • the full name of the person you're sending money to
  • their 6-digit sort code
  • their 8-digit account number
  • a payment reference
  • when you want the money to leave your account (e.g. on the 25th day of every month)
  • how long you'd like the payments to continue for

Direct debits, on the other hand, will be set up by the company you'll be paying, but you will need to provide them with your name and bank details for them to arrange the payment.

Tips for managing your standing orders and direct debits

  • Make sure you keep track of when money is leaving your account and there is enough money in your bank to pay the bill – otherwise, you might risk fees or going overdrawn.
  • You can set up payments to end on a certain date.
  • If you stop using a service, make sure to cancel your standing order or direct debit – otherwise, you might pay more than you should be.
  • You might get a discount by paying bills by direct debit – speak to the company to find out.

What if something goes wrong?

Get in touch with your bank right away if you notice any activity you don't recognise on your account, if the person you’re paying doesn't receive your payment, or if you accidentally make a payment to the wrong account.

If you have a problem with a payment which your bank doesn't resolve, or if you're unhappy with how your issue has been managed, you can take the following steps:

  1. Make a complaint through the bank's complaints procedure. It’s best to do this in writing rather than over the phone.
  2. If you're unhappy with the response to your complaint, you can contact The Financial Ombudsman Service, a free and independent complaints service. You should contact them within 6 months of receiving the response to your complaint, and they will support you to try and resolve the issue.