After paying in a sterling cheque drawn on a UK bank to a UK sterling current, savings or basic bank account you can be sure that at the end of six working days, the money is yours. You're then protected from any loss if the cheque subsequently bounces, unless you are a knowing party to a fraud. The timescales also mean that you start earning interest on money paid into your current, basic or savings account no later than two working days after paying in a cheque. After no later than four working days the money becomes available for withdrawal (six working days for savings accounts). These are only the maximum timescales - individual banks may, and do, compete on when they pay interest or allow funds from paid-in cheques to be withdrawn by offering these earlier than two and four working days respectively.

2-6-6 is for savings accounts. Savings and deposit accounts are designed to pay interest on funds deposited for a length of time, and frequency of payments to and from these accounts is generally less. These features allow customers to benefit from a higher rate of interest. In return, the earliest day for withdrawal, where withdrawals are allowed, is the sixth working day after paying a cheque into a savings account. If you want faster access to cheque funds you should consider paying a cheque into a current or basic bank account. The timescales on saving accounts for earning interest (working day 2) and knowing the money is definitely yours (working day 6) still apply.

These timescales can be clarified by your bank so if you need to know when the sixth working day is – and the money definitely yours– speak to your bank.

Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays are not included within any calculation of the six working day period.

All banks and building societies offer these maximum timescales for their customers and they may even better the timescales for interest (working day 2) and withdrawal (working day 4) with their competitive offerings. In exceptional situations, should they be unable to deliver on the timescales, they will explain the reason why.

You must be aware that you do so at your own risk and if the cheque subsequently bounces before the end of the sixth working day then you may have to return the funds to your bank.

Yes, they do - as these timescales will give you certainty on cheque funds and clarify when you can be sure the cheque funds are definitely yours (at the end of the sixth working day) and when you can release goods or services with confidence.

The simplest way is to ensure the cheque is paid in at your bank before their advertised daily cut-off times. You can pay in a cheque in a number of other ways - such as at a cash machine (at some banks), by post or at a Post Office. However, these may all affect when your bank actually receives the cheque and the timescale starts. If you are not sure when working day 6 has passed you should check with your bank.

You should check with your bank. Each bank competes on when it gives interest on cheque funds or, if the account is overdrawn, when cheque funds will reduce the balance on which overdraft interest is charged. These timescales mean the latest time you can expect this to happen is two working days after you have paid in your cheque.

The industry has set maximum timescales for clearing cheques and these include the day by when banks must allow withdrawal of the funds (four working days after paying in the cheque) but this does not prevent banks beating those timescales with their own competitive offerings. Under The Banking Conduct of Business Sourcebook (BCOBS), banks and building societies are required to provide clear details of their policies.

You should ensure that you have an account which best suits your needs. If quicker access to cheque funds is important, you should shop around for an account which offers more favourable terms. Some accounts allow early access to funds from cheques, possibly as early as the day you pay in the cheque. However, you should be aware that if you withdraw the funds before the end of the sixth working day, and the cheque is then returned unpaid before the end of the sixth working day, in most cases the bank will ask you to give the money back. Anyone who needs a quicker way to pay should use a telephone, online or mobile banking payment, which can typically be made within a few minutes.

No, you should always be wary of accepting high-value cheques or bankers' drafts. If you don't know or trust the person offering you a cheque, you should consider other options such as a CHAPS payment, a telephone or internet payment, or cash. Ask your bank for advice if you're in any doubt.

Yes, with these accounts the timescales are 2-6-6, not 2-4-6. Savings and deposit accounts are designed to pay you interest on funds deposited for a length of time, and frequency of payments to and from these accounts is generally less. These features allow you to benefit from a higher rate of interest. In return, the earliest day for withdrawal, where withdrawals are allowed, is working day 6 after paying a cheque into a savings account. If you want faster access to cheque funds you should consider paying a cheque into a current or basic bank account. The timescales on saving accounts for earning interest (working day 2) and knowing the money is definitely yours (working day 6) still apply.

The 2-4-6 timescales only apply to cheques paid in to your current or basic bank account. The 2-6-6 timescales apply to savings accounts. Credit cards and loans are the subject of credit agreements rather than accounts used for money transmissions services so they aren't affected by the 2-4-6 timescales.

No. These timescales apply only to sterling cheques drawn on UK banks and paid into a sterling account in a bank based in the UK.

No. These timescales apply only to sterling cheques drawn on UK banks and paid into a sterling account in a bank based in the UK.

No. These changes apply only to sterling cheques drawn on UK banks and paid into an account in a bank based in the UK.

You are protected and can keep the funds from the cheque provided you are not a knowing party to fraud. If there is a dispute, each case would be looked at on an individual basis, and you can seek redress through your bank or building society's own formal complaints procedure. Under BCOBS (the Banking Conduct of Business Sourcebook) all banks and building societies are obliged to tell their customers how to go about this. Failing satisfactory resolution, you can refer your complaint to an independent assessment by the Financial Ombudsman Service.

It means you know about the fraud and were one of the people involved in perpetrating the fraudulent transaction. If a cheque is found to be fraudulent after the end of the sixth working day after a cheque has been paid in, you are protected and can keep the funds from the cheque provided you are not a knowing party to fraud. Each case would be looked at on an individual basis and the facts would be assessed against the evidence. If there is a dispute, you can seek redress through your bank or building society's own formal complaints procedure (the Banking Conduct of Business Sourcebook sets out how to make a formal complaint). Failing satisfactory resolution, you can refer your complaint to an independent assessment by the Financial Ombudsman Service.

All banks and building societies in the UK have implemented these maximum timescales for sterling cheques paid into sterling bank accounts in the UK. In exceptional situations, should they be unable to deliver on these timescales, they would explain the reason why.