COVID-19: Making payments safely in lockdown

Over the coming months, at some point some of you may find yourself unable to leave your home for basic supplies – such as groceries or medical products. This may be for a short time, or it may be for an extended period if you are in a high-risk category, as specified by the UK Government. Regardless, there are several ways for you to pay for these items or provide cash for the volunteers helping you, whether you have access to the internet or not. You can use the interactive tool below to find out which options* are available to you.

Please ensure you take all necessary steps to keep your money safe, you can find more information on ways to do this here.

*The services offered by individual banks or building societies and other providers may differ, please check their website for the latest information.


Options to consider. Please contact your bank to set up a specific product.
Options to consider. Please contact your bank to set up a specific product.
Options to consider. Please contact your bank to set up a specific product.
Options to consider. Please contact your bank to set up a specific product.

BRANCH OR ATM CASH WITHDRAWAL BY VOLUNTEER

If the person assisting you is visiting a bank branch or ATM, some banks will enable a third-party withdrawal service. For example, some banks will allow you to request a code (via telephone or through the app), valid for a set period of time and for a specific amount, which will allow a third-party to make a cash withdrawal from an ATM. Other banks will enable you to download a form, which once completed can be taken by the volunteer to the branch and following appropriate checks the withdrawal can be completed. These services are provided by a limited number of banks, so get in touch with your provider to hear more.

CURRENCY HOME DELIVERY

Your bank may provide cash home delivery services. This, as the name suggests, enables a customer to submit a request to their bank to deliver cash (sterling) directly to their home. There may be restrictions on this service, for example it may be reserved for vulnerable customers only due to capacity constraints so check with your bank regarding your circumstances and the options available to you.

POST OFFICE PAYOUT NOW

This is a Post Office Service that enables the bank to send you a unique one-time code which can be taken to the Post Office Branch and cashed. The code can be sent to you in an email, SMS message or through a letter/voucher in the post. You must contact your own bank initially, to check if it participates in the scheme, and then if so, register with them to start using the product. You can determine how much the encashment can be for up to the maximum limit agreed by your bank. This is a single transaction and each time you need to make an encashment using this service you would need to contact your bank to generate the unique code.

ATM OR BRANCH CASH WITHDRAWAL

If you are still visiting an ATM or your bank branch (branch visits are not recommended unless necessary), you can withdraw cash in the normal way, to pay whoever is assisting you. Please note that many branches are limiting their opening hours at present – please check prior to a visit.

MOBILE BANKING

You can download these from the Google Play Store or Apple Store on a smartphone. This allows you to access your bank or payments account from your mobile phone and carry out many actions you can do online through internet banking. Always make sure you download your bank or building society’s genuine app – check their website for more details.

PAYMENT APPS

There are a variety of payment apps which can allow for the quick and easy transfer of money between yourself and any volunteer. They often use telephone numbers, rather than account numbers and sort codes, for speed. It is of course important to take steps to ensure that the provider you are using is legitimate, and that any volunteer providing you with details is a known and trusted individual. Please seek advice online, from family/friends where possible, or your bank, if you are unsure.

NORMAL CHEQUES

You can use a standard cheque to pay whoever is assisting you in the usual way. The volunteer will be able to pay it into their own account via a bank, a post office or by positing it with an accompanying pay slip and will receive the funds in line with the cheque clearing timescales (usually within 48 hours). If you receive a cheque this can be paid into your account via the post, in branch or at a Post Office using a paying in slip (there is usually some in the back of your cheque book). Some mobile banking services allow you to pay in a cheque by taking a photograph of it using the bank’s app.

INTERNET BANKING

You can contact your bank or building society to set up internet banking services. They will provide you with security details such as a login and password and you can then transfer money directly from your account to that of the person assisting you via your bank’s website. You will need the account number and sort code of the person you wish to pay. The service can also be used to pay bills (including one-off or regular payments) or cancel payments (such as direct debits). Some banks or building societies may require you to use a card reader to make payments, but you will be sent this as part of registration to online banking.

POST OFFICE CHEQUE ENCASHMENT (FAST PACE)

This Post Office service allows you to write a cheque, which can be cashed at a Post Office branch, to provide whoever is assisting you with cash for shopping. You must contact your own bank initially, to check if it participates in the scheme, and then if so, register with them to start using the product. You can determine how much to write the cheque for up to the maximum agreed by your bank, and this helps to minimise fraud risk.

PREPAID CARDS

Prepaid cards are physical cards which can be preloaded with a fixed amount of money and used to make purchases in shops or online by any person assisting you. There are a number of prepaid providers which you can contact directly and arrange for delivery of a card to your home or to the volunteer that is assisting you. In some cases, where individuals qualify, prepaid cards may be provided by your Local Authority. You should get in touch with them if you think this may apply to you.

Please note that you should always take steps to ensure the prepaid card provider you are using is legitimate, and seek advice online, from family/friends where possible, or your bank, if you are unsure. Some banks may also provide or recommend a prepaid card service.

RETAILER VOLUNTEER OR GIFT CARDS

Many retailers will provide cards which can be preloaded with a fixed amount and topped up, for use only at that specific store. You can visit the retailer’s website to order one, which can be paid for using your debit/credit card online. The retailer will then send the card to you via post or if applicable, provide a code. This gift card or code can then be given to the volunteer to pay for shopping. Please note that you should always take steps to ensure the retailer website you are visiting is legitimate and it is advisable to top the card up little and often as this limits the amount of money that is at risk if the card is lost or misused.

Please visit the Money Advice Service’s guidance here, for advice about shopping safely when making purchases online.

TELEPHONE BANKING

You can contact your bank or building society to set up telephone banking services. This will work well if you do not use a computer. The bank will provide you with a password via the post and you can then transfer money directly from your account to that of the person assisting you via a call to your bank or building society. All you need is the account number and sort code of the person you wish to pay. The service can also be used to pay or cancel bills (via one-off payments or regular).

MOBILE CARD READERS

These devices allow the person assisting you to take a card payment from you, before or after shopping. The volunteer can bring the handheld device, which is linked to an app on their phone, to you, and you can either tap your debit/credit card using contactless, use chip and PIN for higher amounts, or enter the card details manually. There is also an option to produce an emailed receipt for these transactions. Always be careful to make sure that the individual that you are dealing with is from a trusted organisation and ask for identification.

Options to consider. Please contact your bank to set up a specific product.
Options to consider. Please contact your bank to set up a specific product.

THIRD PARTY DELEGATION MANDATE

You should never give anyone your personal debit or credit card and/or PIN, or internet/telephone banking logins, to anyone else.

You can get in touch with your bank and nominate a known, trusted person to have access to your accounts for a limited time period. They will be able to withdraw funds. The trusted person will have to go through full and extensive security checks.

BRANCH OR ATM CASH WITHDRAWAL BY VOLUNTEER

If the person assisting you is visiting a bank branch or ATM, some banks will enable a third-party withdrawal service. For example, some banks will allow you to request a code (via telephone or through the app), valid for a set period of time and for a specific amount, which will allow a third-party to make a cash withdrawal from an ATM. Other banks will enable you to download a form, which once completed can be taken by the volunteer to the branch and following appropriate checks the withdrawal can be completed. These services are provided by a limited number of banks, so get in touch with your provider to hear more.

POST OFFICE CHEQUE ENCASHMENT (FAST PACE)

This Post Office service allows you to write a cheque, which can be cashed at a Post Office branch, to provide whoever is assisting you with cash for shopping. You must contact your own bank initially, to check if it participates in the scheme, and then if so, register with them to start using the product. You can determine how much to write the cheque for up to the maximum agreed by your bank, and this helps to minimise fraud risk.

PREPAID CARDS

Prepaid cards are physical cards which can be preloaded with a fixed amount of money and used to make purchases in shops or online by any person assisting you. There are a number of prepaid providers which you can contact directly and arrange for delivery of a card to your home or to the volunteer that is assisting you. In some cases, where individuals qualify, prepaid cards may be provided by your Local Authority. You should get in touch with them if you think this may apply to you.

Please note that you should always take steps to ensure the prepaid card provider you are using is legitimate, and seek advice online, from family/friends where possible, or your bank, if you are unsure. Some banks may also provide or recommend a prepaid card service.

I DO NOT HAVE A CURRENT ACCOUNT

If you do not have a current account there may be other payment options available to you including prepaid cards or other support from your local authority.