How to cancel a direct debit

Direct debits can be a major drain on your money. We explain how you go about cancelling them.

From paying for electricity bills to your phone contract, direct debits can be a hassle free way of managing your finances.

Yet, if you fail to stay on top of them, they can be a leech on your account. You may end up paying for that gym you never go to until you’re old and grey.

So plug the drain on your account and save your money for the things that matter. See our steps for cancelling a direct debit below.

Audit all of your direct debits

First things first, you have to root out those pesky direct debits.

Most online banking pages have a section showing direct debits and standing orders, so this step might only take a second.

It might be equally quick and painless to call up your bank or building society, or head into a branch and ask for a list of your active direct debits.

If neither of these steps work, then you can definitely get a year’s worth of statements from your bank. Scan through them to find any regular payments out of your account.

Contact your bank and cancel the offenders

Once you’ve worked out which direct debits you want to banish from your life, the next step is actually cancelling them. These are the basic steps you need to take:

  • Notify your bank that you wish to cancel a direct debit. If this is by Internet or phone, written confirmation may be needed too.
  • You should also notify the organisation receiving the direct debit in writing.
  • Your bank or building society typically needs a day’s notice before the payment is due to be paid.
  • Cancelling the direct debit won’t stop the goods or services being delivered, so arrange an alternative payment method or contact the company to cancel these.

If you have any further questions about cancelling direct debits, such as what information you might need to send to your bank, or how long it will take to cancel, then check out our FAQs below.

What happens if I cancel the direct debit without the approval of the company?

It depends. If it’s a direct debit that you have a right to cancel then you only really need to contact your bank about stopping it.

While it’s not necessary to let the company know you’ve cancelled your direct debit, you must make sure you’ve given it the correct amount of notice. Most will need at least a month’s notice that you’ll be contractually obliged to pay up to, so check before you cancel.

If you have an ongoing agreement with the provider then you must carry on paying the money until the contract is up – for example, if you’re 8 months through a 12 month phone contract. In such situations the provider is within its right to chase you up for money.

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