What is the best way to take regular payments?

A table summarising the differences between credit card (CPA), cash, cheque or Bacs transfer and Direct Debit.


There are a number of different ways to take regular payments. You could use standing orders, regular payments by credit card (known as a ‘continuous payment authority’), cash, cheque or Bacs transfer. Or you could use Direct Debit.

While we obviously think Direct Debit is the simplest and most efficient option, which is best for you will depend on your business. To help you decide which is the right option for you, we’ve summarised each in this short table.

Cash/cheque/Bacs CPA Standing Order Direct Debit
What is it? One-off payments by cheque or bank transfer. A pre-authorisation from customers to take any future payments from their credit card. A fixed, regular bank transfer set up and managed by the customer. A pre-authorisation from customers to take any future payments direct from their bank account.
Transaction fees ~£1.50 + 1 hour to pay in 3% + 20p Free 1%
Failure rates Variable ~5% Variable < 1%
Flexibility Low High Low High
Late payment risk High Mid Mid None
Admin required High Mid High Low
Best for Elderly customers and one-off, high value payments Consumer subscriptions, low value payments Strictly fixed payments to small businesses All consumer subscriptions, regular bills & regular B2B invoicing.
‹ View table of contents Next page ›

Latest features

Your top cash flow questions answered

We took a look around the internet to find the most-asked questions about cash flow. Here are the answers.

5 steps for a successful transition from invoicing to subscription billing

If you bill your regular customers on a recurring basis, take advantage of subscription billing and bring more predictable revenue to your business. In this guide, we walk through 5 steps to moving to a subscription model.

The small business guide to purchase orders

When your business buys goods or services, it’s important to keep track of what you’ve ordered and how much it will cost you. Setting up a purchase order system can improve your business’ efficiency, tighten stock controls and save you money.

View all


Reference guides

View all