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How long does it take for a cheque to clear?

You'll normally need to wait 4 working days after paying a cheque in for it to clear, so if you pay a cheque in on Monday it will usually clear by Friday. However, it's best to wait 5 working days. This is because a cheque can sometimes be returned 'unpaid' usually because the person who wrote the cheque doesn't have enough money in their account.

The cheque clearing example below will help you work out when your money begins to earn interest, when money can be used, and when you can be sure that the cheque has cleared.

Cheque clearing cycle example

If you pay a cheque into your account on a Monday (before 3.30pm), you can expect to earn interest (if the account pays interest on credit balances) on Wednesday. This is also the point at which this money will reduce the amount of your overdraft interest charged (if applicable).

Funds can be withdrawn on Friday. By the end of the second Tuesday, the money cannot be reclaimed from your account (i.e. as a result of a cheque being returned unpaid). Any unpaid cheques returned too late, (after the second Tuesday in this example), will not be debited from your account.

If you pay a cheque in on a Saturday or after 3.30pm on a working weekday, the payment is not credited to your account until the following working weekday, when the cheque-clearing period will start.

Cheques paid in at some financial institutions, or agents, (e.g. the Post Office), may take longer to arrive at the other bank for payment. The clearing cycle referred to here does not apply to foreign cheques, which will usually take 4-5 weeks to clear.

It can take up to 7 working days for a cheque to go through the entire clearing cycle. These timings are for sterling cheques.