Cheque clearing can be likened to an efficient factory process. During the day and night, shift staff work around the clock to ensure that all the cheques that are paid in every working day (Monday to Friday, excluding bank holidays) keep to the 2-4-6 cheque clearing timescales, wherever in the UK the cheque is paid in.
When you pay in a cheque the 2-4-6 timescales help provide clarity on:
- When your account will start to earn interest on the money or when any overdraft will be reduced.
- When you will be able to withdraw the money.
- When the money has safely cleared with no chance of the cheque being returned unpaid (i.e. ‘bouncing’).
So, when you receive a cheque:
- You pay it into your bank on a working day.
- Your bank sends your cheque to its clearing centre where it is sorted and cheque data is created.
- This data is sent electronically to the bank of the person who wrote the cheque (the payer’s bank) and the physical cheque is sent to an Exchange Centre, which ensures that your cheque is sent to the correct payer’s bank.
- The payer’s bank checks for fraud and whether the payer has enough money in their account. If all is okay it sends the money to your bank, which puts it into your account.
- After two working days you start to receive interest on the funds from the cheque.
- After four working days you can withdraw the money.
- After six working days the cheque can’t bounce and the money is yours to keep.