Clearing up a misconception: You thought your cheque would be in this week? Wrong]

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The Independent Online
Bank and building society customers who think cheques will always clear in four days are mistaken, according to a survey by Abbey National.

The bank says that some organisations take up to five days longer than others to confirm that funds have arrived in an individual's account.

Abbey looked at the time taken to clear a cheque deposited on a Monday.

Most organisations, including Abbey would clear four or five days after the deposit, on a Thursday or Friday.

At Halifax Building Society it would be Tuesday week before the customer could draw on the money. However, Halifax said that this was the day that cheques would clear when deposited in a savings account. If they were put into the society's Maxim current account they would clear in five days so the money could be drawn on Saturday.

Nationwide was said by Abbey to have Friday clearance for Monday cheques. The society said it cleared cheques paid into deposit accounts in seven working days, which, like Halifax, meant Tuesday week for a Monday cheque.

There were different rules for the FlexAccount current account. Cheques under pounds 1,500 would be cleared in three days if the customer had a guarantee card.

Barclays is unusual in having different times depending on whether the cheque is deposited at the customer's own branch. Own-branch deposits clear one day after the fifth working day after the deposit is made. Deposits at other branches clear on the day after the sixth business day.

National Westminster, Lloyds and Barclays make no distinction between clearing times for current accounts and deposits.

Halifax said that theoretically it was possible to clear funds into a deposit account as quickly as into a current. But the society might not find out about a bounced cheque until after five working days and this exposed it to the risk of loss. A commercial decision had been made to allow earlier clearing on current accounts.

Banks and building societies may pay interest earlier than than they clear cheques.

At Halifax and Nationwide, for example, interest is credited three working days after the cheque is paid in, so money deposited on a Monday will earn interest from midnight Wednesday.

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