A bank giro credit (BGC) is a standardised paper form that has the name and account details of a specific organisation or business printed on it (e.g. Southern Water). When the form is completed by a customer and handed/posted to a bank with cash or a cheque, it acts as an instruction to that bank to pay the specified sum of money to the organisation or business whose bank details are printed on the bank giro credit. A bank giro credit is not a payment instrument in itself and cannot be used on its own to make a payment - it must be accompanied by cash and/or a cheque.

Bank giro credits are often found in the form of tear-off slips at the bottom of bills such as those for credit cards, gas and electricity, and council tax. They can also found at the back of chequebooks for customers wanting to pay cash or cheques into their own bank account.

Typically they will be used with a cheque or cash to make a bill payment. Most bill payments are posted to the bill issuer but they can also be paid into a branch of the paying customer’s own bank with a cheque or cash, and sometimes at the biller’s bank (you will need to check the back of the bill to find out whether you can do this). Bank giro credits found at the back of chequebooks are also used by customers to pay cash or cheques into their own bank accounts.

A joint giro credit is one that has been issued by a business for payment of a bill either at a bank, or at a branch of the Post Office. Joint giro credits are issued by Santander (UK) plc and have the words TRANSCASH printed on them as well as the words “Bank Giro Credit”, with the money mark logo.

Bank giro credits are cleared in much the same way as cheques, over a three-day period, using the same processing equipment and the same exchange centres. However, there is less automation as paper is exchanged, but electronic data is not. You can find out more about the credit clearing here

About 90% of the items going through the credit clearing are for bill payments. However, as customers move to more convenient ways to pay their bills - such as by Direct Debit, online, mobile and telephone banking payments, and debit and credit cards – credit clearing volumes are falling. In addition, billers often incentivise customers to move to these other payment methods. Also, because volumes of cheques are declining, there is less use of bank giro credits to pay cheques into bank accounts. Statistics on credit clearing volumes can be found in our Information Hub - Facts and Figures

The paying-in slips at the back of your chequebook are personalised with your account details and are only for paying-in cash or cheques at your own bank. Some banks print these vouchers as bank giro credits, but sometimes the vouchers only have enough information to enable the customer to pay a cheque in at their own branch so they are ‘paying-in slips’ rather than bank giro credits.

Banks can choose not to accept transactions where there is no relationship with either party to the transaction. The reason for this is the collecting bank would then have to take on the liability for any losses if either the cheque or the bank giro credit were the subject of fraud, and that would be unreasonable for the bank concerned. Also, money laundering checks are harder to carry out if there is no prior relationship with the person or business paying in the money.

No. The Payment Services Directive, which came into force on 1 November 2009, means that if you pay in cash over the counter in a branch of your own bank, it will be made available and value-dated immediately. Other methods of deposit, such as a deposit box, might take slightly longer for the value to appear on your account as it depends on when the bank processes the deposit.

Up until 1998, bill payments for non-customers were part of the clearing service that banks offered but, since then, banks and building societies can choose not to provide the service to non-customers. This is because the collecting bank would have to take on the liability for losses if either the cheque or the bank giro credit were the subject of fraud, and that would be unreasonable for the bank concerned.

Not all banks provide bill paying services but, where they do, it is a competitive matter between banks whether the service is free or not.

A piece of European legislation called the Payment Services Directive, which came into force on 1 November 2009, means that if you pay your bill with cash at the biller’s bank, the cash will be credited to the biller’s account on the next business day. However, the biller then has to take the data about all the bills paid into its bank account for that day and feed the information into its own systems so that it can apply the amount of the bill payments against each of its own customers’ accounts. The time this takes is down to the individual biller companies.

This is because not all banks provide bill paying services.

There are many ways to pay your bills such as by Direct Debit, internet, mobile and telephone payments, and debit and credit cards. The various alternatives will be set out on the back of your bill.

This is because even though the funds paid in by the bank giro credit might have been credited to the biller’s bank account on the same day as the cheque was debited from your account, the biller still has to take the data about all the bills paid into its bank account for that day and feed the information into its own systems before it can apply the amount of the bill payment against your statement. This may not happen until the next day.

This is because the bank giro credit has to go through the credit clearing system, so it takes three working days to reach the biller’s bank account and then the biller still has to take the data about all the bills paid into its bank account for that day and feed the information into its own systems before it can apply the amount of the bill payment against your statement. This may not happen until the next day – which equates to four working days.

Even though it only takes three days to clear the cheque and the credit, the biller has to take account of any delays in the post and the processing and reconciliation of the bills that it does before taking the cheques to its own bank to pay them in.

First of all, check with your own bank to see if the cheque has been paid and, if so, on what date. Then you should pass all this information to the biller so that they can follow this up with their own bank. If they still can’t find your funds, ask your own bank to help trace them.

No. Speak to the company billing you if you do not wish to pay the full amount of the bill.

You should phone your biller and ask them to send you a duplicate.

If you have a debit card with you, many banks can swipe the card at the branch counter to create a paying-in slip for you to use.