Faster payments: a guide to instant transfers in the UK (2023)

  • What are faster payments?
  • What do you need to make a bank transfer?
  • How do faster payments work?
  • How long do faster payments take?
  • Faster payment limits
  • Faster payments cost
  • Free faster payments should be standard

Faster payments are fast becoming an industry standard in the banking world. Enjoyed for their convenience and security, most banks in the UK can now send and receive faster payments. But not all banks offer them in the same way.

What are faster payments?

Faster payments are a type of bank transfer from one UK bank to another that completes within seconds instead of the usual three business days. Available year-round, 24/7, faster payments are gaining traction with UK banks and other financial institutions.

According to, which administers the Faster Payment System (FPS), the year-on-year increase in transaction numbers was 17% in 2020, with an 8% jump in total value. Simply put, we’re doing more fast payments in the UK than ever before, and for lower value payments such as paying a small bill.

With the rise in challenger banks, online-only neobanks and e-money accounts, faster payments as a service are cheaper and more widely available than when they launched in 2008.

What do you need to make a bank transfer?

Whether a faster payment or a regular bank transfer, there is a standardised list of requirements for these banking services in the UK (aside from having the funds in your account):

  • The desired payment date

    (Video) UK Faster Payment Service

  • The name of the payee or their business entity

  • The six-digit sort code

  • The eight-digit account number

  • A free-text payment reference to identify what the payment is for

As faster payments are usually used as a same-day payment, the chosen payment date is most frequently “today”. But this doesn't guarantee that the payment will go through before the end of the day. If you need to make sure your payment goes through on a specific date or time, say for a legal purchase of a property or a large financial institution making a specific payment, the CHAPS system is more appropriate.

How do faster payments work?

There are two sides to faster payments: the front-end, which we use as consumers to initiate a faster payment, and the back-end behind the scenes magic that the banks handle without us seeing a thing.

How to transfer money instantly between banks

Depending on the bank, challenger bank or e-money account you use, sending a fast bank transfer through the UK Faster Payments System can be done via different methods.

  • Online banking as a self-service option: this is a convenient way to manage faster payments, especially to recurring payees, as you can save payee information for further fast payments.

  • Using an app on your smart device: most banks, and definitely all neobanks and e-money accounts, offer a mobile app that allows you to at least manage the most frequent banking operations such as bank transfers and faster payments.

  • For those still using high-street banks and working regularly with a bank manager, or without access to the internet or a smartphone, a bank transfer can be initiated in person at the branch or over the phone.

It may not be worthwhile sending a faster payment in some cases. Use the handy sort code checker provided by to verify that the receiving bank can handle faster payments, otherwise send a regular payment and save on potential fees.


What happens behind the scenes of the fast transaction system?

There are a lot of moving parts for payments through the FPS, which is why same-day payment is not guaranteed. Although fully automated, there are a number of checks in place to make sure that the faster payment goes through securely, and to the right payee.

  • Once your bank has verified your identity and that you have sufficient funds in your account, they send the request to the receiving bank (the payee’s account)

  • The receiving bank will check the account number, making sure it is valid before informing the Faster Payments service that the payment is accepted

  • Once the FPS receives approval from the receiving bank, they credit the payee’s account with the funds and inform your bank that the faster payment has been executed

  • It’s up to your bank to provide you with updated payment information such as faster payment completion

So what can stop a UK faster payment going through as a same-day payment? Trying to transfer funds without having them available on your account, or entering the wrong account number and sort code combination. The latter mistake can also result in the wrong person or business receiving your payment.

As faster payments follow a specific automated process, the security measures in place are stricter. It is important that the sort code, account number and payee name match what is on the records of the receiving bank, otherwise faster payments can be declined.

How long do faster payments take?

Ideally a fast bank transfer should result in a same-day payment, as long as both accounts are located in the UK. To improve the odds of a payment going through as a same-day payment, you need the following:

  • Initiating the faster payment during working hours

  • Making sure your account has enough funds

  • Sending money to accounts that are on the FPS participant list

    (Video) How Do You Make A Bank Faster Payment-UK|Topic-15|BankingTutorial|Learn Banking With Easy Tips

When all of the above criteria are met, payments can be immediate - although they can take up to two hours.

The good news is that a faster payment cannot arrive later than by the end of the following business day. This target is set out by the Payment Services Directive of UK Finance, but does mean that a faster payment initiated on a Friday evening can arrive as late as Monday late afternoon.

The potentially unreliable nature of faster payments doesn’t justify the cost that some banks and challenger banks put on this service. At SumUp, we believe that faster payments should be standard, and like all UK payments, they should be free.

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Faster payment limits

FPS payments are subject to two limits: the sending and receiving accounts have to be in the UK, and the transaction amount has to be under £1 million.

Everything over that amount has to go through CHAPS, which is managed directly by the Bank of England.

It’s also important to bear in mind that banks, neobanks and e-money accounts can set their own upper limits on FPS payments in the UK.

Types of payments through the Faster Payments System

The FPS allows for different types of payment with each having some specific limits in place.

Single immediate payments are the most common type of payment. When you send money to your payee via an FPS payment, you are executing a single immediate payment. This is the only payment type that has a £1 million limit.

Forward-dated payments, standing orders and direct corporate access payments can all be made via FPS, however they have a limit of £250,000 per transaction.

  • A forward-dated payment is a one-off payment on a pre-arranged date scheduled in advance.

  • A standing order is a regular payment for a fixed amount sent on regular dates. This is not a Direct Debit, as the money is sent to the payee, rather than taken from the account by the payee.

    (Video) How to buy Bitcoin with Bank transfer (Faster Payments)?

  • Direct corporate access payments are used by larger businesses and financial institutions to use bulk files, allowing them to send multiple requests through FPS at the same time.

Faster payments cost

Faster payments are not free for banks using FPS who have to pay a fee structure which appears to be as complicated as the small print that comes with a business account from a high-street bank (if you’re curious, the fee structure is on page 24 of this document from

But this doesn’t mean that banks should be charging their customers extra for faster payments in the UK, as they are becoming an industry standard and the days of waiting 3 business days for a payment are over.

Whether through your initial signup fees, monthly account fees, or separate transaction fees, your bank is potentially charging you for faster payments.

How to check if you’re paying for faster payments

If you're directly being charged for faster payments, then the charges will appear on your bank statements. Have you noticed the mention of FPO on a bank statement or are you trying to find out what FPI is on your bank statement? You’ve been charged.

  • FPO: Faster Payment Outwards

  • FPI: Faster Payment Inwards

Not only is it possible to be charged for faster payments that you make, you can also be charged for receiving faster payments from third parties.

If these charges do not appear on your statements, you may still be paying for your faster payments in the UK as part of your monthly account costs. Some banks, especially high-street banks, have different packages available, including for business accounts - each one with more or less functionality at different price points. Sounds complicated? It is.

Free faster payments should be standard

The good news is that banking services are cheaper now than they were when the high-street banks were your only option. The bad news is that banks can do better, especially for business accounts and online business accounts.

A reality of fee-free online business accounts with all the functionality you’d expect to run your business is already here, just not with banks. E-money institutions are on the rise and gaining in popularity, because their focus is on functionality, innovation and convenience, rather than complicated fine print and fee structures.

(Video) SWIFT Payment System Explained

Take the SumUp Business Account: a free to open, no minimum balance, no monthly fee business account, which only charges you for cash withdrawals over your free monthly allowance and foreign cash withdrawals. Your hard-earned money is yours to spend, and you shouldn’t have to pay for the convenience of fast payments and instant money transfers.

E-money accounts have other advantages too as they are usually part of a wider ecosystem. SumUp not only provides a free business account with a complementary contactless Mastercard, you can also pair it up with an industry leading payment terminal with all the bells and whistles. Each card payment received on the card reader appears in one day in your free business account, even on weekends and bank holidays, allowing you to use it for faster payments when it suits you.

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What is UK Faster Payment method? ›

What is the Faster Payments Service (FPS)? This service is for sending electronic, sterling payments in the UK. As long as the receiving bank or building society uses Faster Payments too, and the amount is within the limit, then the payment will arrive almost immediately (though sometimes, it can take up to 2 hours).

Are Faster Payments GBP only? ›

In principle, Faster Payments facilitates the same process as SWIFT but is strictly for transactions within the UK that use GBP. SWIFT is used by businesses operating globally to transact anywhere in the world.

Are UK bank transfers instant? ›

Bank transfers in the UK are powered by Faster Payments. As you may expect from the name, Faster Payments was introduced to improve the speed of normal bank transfers. As a result, most bank transfers are instantaneous, although in some cases, payment can take up to two hours.

What is the difference between UK Faster Payments and CHAPS? ›

CHAPS vs Faster Payments

You can use Faster Payments for all your personal and business needs for free or a low fee as long as the transfer amount is under £1m. CHAPS payments are more expensive and are suitable for high-value time-sensitive payments.

Which UK banks use Faster Payments? ›

Which banks are direct participants of Faster Payments?
  • The Access Bank UK.
  • Atom Bank.
  • Barclays.
  • BFC Bank.
  • Cashplus.
  • Citi.
  • Clear Bank.
  • Clydesdale Bank.

Is Zelle in the UK? ›

No, Zelle® can only be used to send funds to someone who has a bank account in the United States.

What is the best payment method in UK? ›

5 Top Payment Methods in the UK
  1. Debit and Credit Cards. UK shoppers use debit cards more often than any other payment method. ...
  2. Cash. ...
  3. Contactless Payments. ...
  4. Digital Wallets. ...
  5. Direct Debit.

What is the difference between BACS and Faster Payments? ›

Faster Payments works 24/7

Unlike Bacs payments that only work during business days, Faster Payments can be made and received 24/7, including bank holidays.

What is the difference between BACS CHAPS and Faster Payments? ›

CHAPS vs BACS: which is faster? As explained above, CHAPS is significantly faster than BACS as it clears the transactions in a matter of hours, making same-day payments possible. As BACS takes up to two to three business days to clear, it is not the best option for time-sensitive transactions.

How long does a bank transfer from USA to UK take? ›

To transfer money from the US to the UK, you can use a bank or a money transfer company. It normally takes 2-4 working days for your money to arrive. Money transfer companies are normally a cheaper and more efficient option. Some money transfer companies also offer guidance on exchange rates and timing.

What is the Faster Payment limit UK? ›

This includes setting up future-dated payments and standing orders. If you send a payment in branch, you can make payments of up to £25,000 per transaction up to a £100,000 overall daily limit. The overall daily limit resets every day at midnight UK time. These are payment made using the Faster Payments Service.

How long do UK transfers take? ›

Generally speaking, international bank transfers will arrive within one to five working days.

What is CHAPS the British equivalent of in USA? ›

Clearing House Interbank Payments System (CHIPS), the US equivalent of CHAPS.

Should I use CHAPS or Faster Payments? ›

Faster Payments, for example, is the preferred choice for regular quick transactions whereas BACS and CHAPS are better suited for large money transfers, such as paying salaries or pensions with CHAPS usually taking a day to process.

Are Faster Payments sent via SWIFT? ›

SWIFT payments are used to make international bank transfers from the UK to accounts held abroad. Faster Payments are usually used for regular customers who need to transfer smaller amounts of money quickly within the UK.

Which UK bank is best for international transfers? ›

Best UK banks for international transfer fees and exchange rates. By my analysis, Revolut is the best bank for international transfer fees and exchange rates, although it is a challenger rather than a regulated bank. It is notably cheaper than high street banks for transfer fees and uses interbank exchange rates.

Does Chase UK support Faster Payments? ›

We accept Faster Payments and BACS. At the moment we can't accept CHAPS or Swift payments. Faster Payments can sometimes take longer than expected to come through, especially if it's a larger amount.

How long does a HSBC transfer take to the UK? ›

For HSBC customers, payments within the European Economic Area (EEA) will normally be credited the next working day and all other payments will normally take up to 4 working days.

Can I use Venmo in UK? ›

Venmo is currently only supported within the U.S. If you try to sign in while abroad, you'll likely get an error message.

Is there Cash App in UK? ›

Yes, Cash App is available in the US and the UK.

Does the UK have Cash App? ›

You can now send or request Cash App payments with friends located in the UK.

Which payment app works in UK? ›

Yes, Google Pay is available in the UK. Users in the UK can download the Google Pay app from the Google Play Store and set up their payment method, such as their debit or credit card, bank account or PayPal account.

What is the safest way to pay online UK? ›

Use a credit card for online payments

Most major credit card providers protect online purchases, and are obliged to refund you in certain circumstances. Using a credit card (rather than a debit card) also means that if your payment details are stolen, your main bank account won't be directly affected.

What payment apps are used in UK? ›

Compare the Top Mobile Payment Apps in the UK of 2023
  • Google Pay. Google. Google Pay is the fast, simple way to pay online or make contactless payments with your phone. ...
  • Apple Pay. Apple. ...
  • Blockonomics. Blockonomics. ...
  • Skrill. Skrill. ...
  • Venmo. PayPal. ...
  • PayPal. PayPal. ...
  • Facebook Messenger. Meta. ...
  • PhonePe. PhonePe.

What is a disadvantage of Bacs? ›

Payments take three days to clear vs Faster Payments (which usually clear immediately) Bacs payments only clear on business days. Strict cut-off times (e.g. Wednesday 3pm to have payments sent on Friday)

Should I use Bacs or CHAPS? ›

When using CHAPS, you can feel confident that your payment will arrive on the day you sent it. When you want something to arrive fast, use CHAPS. BACS payments are for routine, regular payments that aren't as time-sensitive, such as paying your suppliers or sending your staff their wages.

What is the bank transfer system in the UK? ›

There are three types of bank transfers in the UK: Bacs, CHAPS, and Faster Payments. All of these are domestic bank payments in the UK. Only Bacs as opposed to any other type can also be a direct debit payment.

Why use CHAPS over Faster Payments? ›

CHAPS is a way of sending money that's guaranteed to arrive on the same day you send it. This is useful if: You want to send an amount of money above the Faster Payments limit. You need it to arrive by a certain date.

Why do people still use Bacs? ›

It's typically used for making regular payments such as salaries, pensions, state benefits and tax credits. However, with the introduction of Universal Credits in the UK, the volume of state benefits paid through Bacs Direct Debit may fall. 80% of the UK workforce is paid using Bacs Direct Credit.

Is Bacs or CHAPS cheaper? ›

Similarly, Bacs is a much cheaper way of transferring money between banks, which can be anywhere between 5p and 50p per transaction. CHAPS is more expensive because your bank has to pay for the software and hardware needed to complete the transfer.

What is the cheapest way to transfer money from USA to UK? ›

Bank transfers are usually the cheapest option when it comes to funding your international money transfer with Wise. Bank transfers can be slower than debit or credit cards, but they usually give you the best value for your money.

Can a US bank transfer to a UK bank? ›

You can send an international wire transfer from one bank to another along the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) network. The SWIFT network comprises over 10,000 banks in 200+ countries, so it's pretty comprehensive.

Can I transfer money from a UK bank account to a US bank account? ›

Whether you use a bank or money transfer service, your money will be sent to the United States via the SWIFT international payment system. SWIFT is a secure system that links banks all around the world. It typically takes 1 to 3 working days to transfer money from a UK to a US bank account.

How much money can you transfer in one day UK? ›

One-off and forward-dated payments: £15,000. Standing orders: £15,000. Online. One-off and forward-dated payments: £50,000.

Is there a limit on HSBC Faster Payments? ›

There is no payment limit with a CHAPS transfer.

What is Barclays Faster Payment limit? ›

The overall daily payment limit to other people in Online Banking is £100,000 for International, FPS and CHAPS payments. For transfers between your own Barclays accounts, the limit is £250,000 per transaction. For third-party payments and standing orders, the limit is £50,000.

How long does an electronic bank transfer take UK? ›

Payments made using Faster Payments will sometimes be received immediately after leaving your account. But can take up to two hours.

How long does SWIFT transfer take UK? ›

A SWIFT payment generally takes 1-4 working days.

Before your funds are credited to the recipient, they will undergo anti-fraud and anti-money laundering checks, which takes time. Some banks may also route your money via an intermediary bank if there is no direct relationship between your bank and the destination bank.

How long does it take to transfer money to chase UK? ›

Most payments are available almost immediately, although they can sometimes take up to two hours.

What is the female version of CHAPS? ›

The collaborative Wiktionary, which defines “chap” as a man or fellow, has entries for “chapess” and “chapette.” Both are defined as informal British terms for a “female chap; a woman.” Usage notes add that they're generally found in the two plural phrases cited earlier.

What is the difference between CHAPS and RTGS? ›

RTGS therefore acts as the platform through which the transmission of monetary policy decisions is implemented; and. CHAPS provides a safe and efficient system for individual high value and often time-critical transactions to settle.

Why do British people say CHAPS? ›

'Bloke' or 'chap' means 'man'. Your 'mate' or 'pal' is your friend. 'Me old mucker' or 'chum' both mean 'friend', too. They are more old-fashioned now, but you may still hear people use them in a light-hearted way.

Do all UK banks accept CHAPS payments? ›

Most UK banks are able to send and receive CHAPS payments, but not all are 'direct participants' of the CHAPS system. A bank doesn't have to be a direct participant of the system to send and receive CHAPS payments.

Is CHAPS the same as SWIFT? ›

CHAPS supports two types of SWIFT payment (one customer payment type and one interbank payment type). These are the MT103 single customer credit transfer, and the MT202 general financial institution transfer.

Which banks use CHAPS? ›

What is a CHAPS payment?
  • HSBC CHAPS fee. There are several different HSBC CHAPS fees listed in their Business Banking Pricelist. ...
  • Santander CHAPS fee. ...
  • NatWest CHAPS fee. ...
  • The Co-Operative Bank CHAPS fee. ...
  • Barclays CHAPS fee. ...
  • Lloyds CHAPS fee. ...
  • First Direct CHAPS fee. ...
  • Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) CHAPS fee.

Which is quicker SEPA or SWIFT? ›

In terms of the transfer process itself, SEPA payments happen much quicker than SWIFT transfers. A regular SEPA payment may take up to two days to arrive, however a new scheme known as SEPA Instant Payment or SCT Inst is able to process transfers within 10 seconds.

What is the difference between Faster Payments and instant payments? ›

The term “instant payments” is often used interchangeably with “faster payments,” but instant payments are different. For example, same-day ACH payments, where a payee's deposit account is credited a few hours after a payment is initiated, are typically considered faster payments.

Which is faster ACH or SWIFT? ›

How long it takes – ACH payments tend to have a lower transfer speed than SWIFT payments. However, there may be delays with SWIFT payments if more intermediary banks are involved.

Which payment method is mostly used in UK? ›

What is the most popular payment method in the UK? Debit cards are the UK's most popular payment method, representing more than half of transactions. The next most common methods include cash, credit cards, contactless payments, digital wallets, and electronic bank transfers, in that order.

What is the difference between Bacs and Faster Payment? ›

As the name suggests, Faster Payments are payments that clear on the same day or almost instantly rather than three days like Bacs payments do. With this payment option, the funds show on the payee's bank account in a matter of seconds.

How does Faster Payment work? ›

The Faster Payments Service checks the payment instructions and forwards them to your supplier's bank, known as the receiving bank. The receiving bank then checks that the account number is valid and informs the Faster Payments Service that it has accepted the payment (it may reject it).

What is CHAPS or Faster Payments? ›

CHAPS payments can only be made on a UK working day. You can make a transfer via CHAPS where your payment is not eligible for the Faster Payments Service, for example if your payment is more than £1,000,000, or the recipient bank is not a member of the Faster Payments Scheme. There is a charge to make a CHAPS payment.

What payment method is bank transfer UK? ›

There are three types of bank transfers in the UK: Bacs, CHAPS, and Faster Payments. All of these are domestic bank payments in the UK. Only Bacs as opposed to any other type can also be a direct debit payment.

What is the safest way to pay someone online UK? ›

You should also consider using an online payment platform, such as PayPal, Apple Pay or Google Pay. Using these platforms to authorise your payments means the retailer doesn't even see your payment details. They also provide their own dispute resolution should anything go wrong.

What are the different payment methods in UK? ›

Bacs is used for Direct Debits, commonly used to pay regular bills. Cheque and Credit is used for processing cheques and other paper payments in the UK. CHAPS is for high value transactions such as buying a house. Faster Payments Scheme (FPS) is behind those almost-instant payments, including standing orders.

Is Faster Payment same as Swift? ›

SWIFT payments are used to make international bank transfers from the UK to accounts held abroad. Faster Payments are usually used for regular customers who need to transfer smaller amounts of money quickly within the UK.

Is Bacs or CHAPS faster? ›

Which transfer method is faster? BACS payments take anywhere from two to three days to clear, so don't choose this method if you want your money to arrive quickly. CHAPS payments are much faster.

How much does a Faster Payment cost? ›

You'll also have to provide a reference so that whoever is receiving money can identify the payment more easily. Let's take a look at the main advantages of Faster Payments. They normally happen instantly – making them much quicker than BACS. There's no charge for Faster Payments.

Is there a limit on bank transfers UK? ›

One-off and forward-dated payments: £50,000. Standing orders: £50,000. Online. One-off and forward-dated payments: £50,000.

How much money can you transfer without being reported UK? ›

As a payment service provider, you must verify the complete information of a payer or a payee if either: the transfer value is €1,000 or more. any part of the transfer is funded by cash or anonymous e-money.

What is the difference between SEPA and BACS? ›

Q. What is the difference between SEPA direct debit and BACS direct debit? The direct debit payment process in both SEPA and BACS are similar. The only difference is that SEPA payments are euro-dominated transfers that are only possible between SEPA zone countries.


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