Beat the queues (and closing branches) by depositing a cheque with a mobile banking app.
It’s been years since I received or wrote a cheque. But during the first lockdown I helped some elderly neighbours with their shopping. And since they were housebound and not online the easiest way for them to pay me was via cheque.
Normally that would mean a visit to the bank, but it actually gave me a chance to try out an online banking feature I’ve been unable to use before.
Since late 2017, some banks have used cheque imaging software to scan your cheques using the banking apps on your phone.
It’s not had a massive take-up, possibly because they aren’t many cheques sent, but it’s a handy feature for those too busy or unable to head to a bank, or perhaps have seen their local branch close down.
How to pay in a cheque with your banking app
If your bank has the feature (you can see a list of the banks that do and significant banks that don’t below), then it’s a similar process with each one.
You first take a photo of the front of the picture using the app. And once that’s gone through, you take a picture of the back – even if it’s completely blank!
The phone must be completely flat above the cheque, which must also be flat. You need to get the corners lined up to markers on the phone screen. And even if you nail this, it might not be enough. When I first tried it with Halifax it took about seven attempts to get the front to scan.
But once I worked out it needed to be on a dark background it took just seconds to snap each side and hit submit. Far quicker than heading out to the bank and queuing up.
You should see the money in your account by the end of the next working day, as long as you pay it in before a cut-off time (which varies by bank). Of course, make sure you keep the cheque until it has cleared just in case it’s rejected.
Banks where you can pay in cheques with your phone
These are the only banks I can find which offer this feature.
I found the feature in the “More” tab at the bottom of the app. There’s is a maximum cheque value of £500 and a daily limit of £1,000.
I wasn’t able to try the feature on my Barclays account as it’s being rolled out to customers – and I’m not one of them! If it’s there, you’ll find it on the Pay & Transfer tab. You can pay in a maximum of four cheques every seven days, and a cheque can’t be for more than £500.
Lloyds’s pay-in via the app feature operates exactly the same way as Halifax.
HSBC has a maximum cheque value of £500 and a daily limit of £750. You can find the feature in the “Move Money” section of the app.
The app for a Virgin Money, allows cheques up to £500 as long as they weren’t signed more than six months ago. You’ll find it via the menu in the top right-hand corner.
Bank of Scotland
Bank of Scotland is another where the app works in exactly the same way as Halifax’s.
The latest to add this feature is app-only bank Starling. Simple go to menu in the top right hand corner and choose “Add money”. Then you’ll be able to take a photo of your cheque up to £500.
Since there are no branches you’d normally need to go to an HSBC or a Post Office to deposit your cheque. However, in June 2020 the bank added the option to do this via the app, or you can also post them yourself.
Banks where you can’t pay in a cheque with your phone
Here are some of the notable banks which don’t have this feature. If you can’t get to any of these banks to pay in a cheque, you can head to your Post Office and deposit it there. However, all they’ll do is post it on for you so it can take a while to clear.
Since they don’t have any branches you can pop in to, you’ll actually have to post any cheques in! However, there is a Freepost address for this so you don’t need to fork out for a stamp. But this does mean it can take a while. The Monzo website says it can be three weeks before you see the money in your account.
There’s no cheque option on the app or website, but you can send it by post.
You can post your cheque, though it takes five days to process it after it has been received. I found the address on the Natwest help section, though since this could change I’d recommend you contacting Natwest to confirm.
I can’t find details of how to post a cheque to RBS, but since they are essentially the same bank at Natwest they should have this option. Get in touch with the bank to check.
A lot of people get frustrated here as when you search “Pay in a cheque Santander” on Google you’ll get results from the US arm of the bank. Sadly in the UK there isn’t this feature.
Also, for the Post Office option you’ll need to order some paying-in slips and deposit envelopes from Santander in advance.
However, you can also send your cheque to your local branch to process.
Again, the app doesn’t have this feature. There’s also nothing on the website saying you can post a cheque.
How to switch bank to one with this feature
It’s really simple to open up a new bank account at one of those listed above which do let you pay in a cheque with the app on your phone.
You can either open up a new account and keep your old one, or you can choose to switch using the Current Account Switch Service which moves all your standing orders, direct debits and future payments.
You can read more about how switching works here.