What are the differences between Direct Debits, standing orders and recurring card payments?

Although these are all types of regular payments, they are quite different from each other.

A Direct Debit:

  • is set up by a company, using your account number and sort code
  • is often used to pay energy providers, council tax bills or credit card bills
  • is usually part of a fixed agreement and should only be changed by the company collecting the Direct Debit.

A recurring card payment:

  • is set up by a company, using your debit or credit card details
  • is used for things like Netflix, Amazon Prime or magazine subscriptions
  • can usually be changed or cancelled by contacting the company taking the payment.

A standing order:

  • is set up by you, through the Banking app, Internet Bank or in branch
  • is used to move money regularly between your accounts, or to send money to someone else’s account on a regular basis
  • can be changed or cancelled by you at any time.

Direct Debit 

A Direct Debit is where you give a company your account number and sort code, so they can collect money from your current account on a regular basis.

Direct Debits can be used to pay your Nationwide credit card bill each month, or your TV licence on a yearly basis. It doesn’t have to be a fixed amount, but the company has to tell you in advance if the amount changes. Direct Debits are covered by the Direct Debit guarantee.

Recurring card payment

A recurring card payment is where you give a company your debit or credit card details so that they can take regular payments from you. It’s not the same as a standing order or Direct Debit, which will use your current account details, not your card information.

Recurring card payments are sometimes called a continuous payment authority or future card payment.

Standing order 

A standing order is a payment method set up by you, to automatically send a fixed amount of money to another bank account on a regular basis. They can be used to pay rent, or move money in to your savings account each month.