What's the difference between payments, transfers, standing orders, Direct Debits and Continuous Payment Authorities?


A payment refers to a one-off payment to another person or organisation. This could be to a friend or family member or it could be a bill payment or a payment to a credit card company (Barclaycard or otherwise).


A transfer is a one-off transaction where you move money between two Barclays accounts that you own, such as transferring cash from your current account to your savings account.

Standing order

A standing order is a regular payment that you can set up to pay other people, organisations or transfer to your other bank accounts. You can amend or cancel the standing order as and when you like.

Direct Debit

A Direct Debit can only be set up by the organisation to which you're making the payment. Normally, you sign a mandate that gives the company permission to take funds from your account in an agreed way – like a monthly gym membership or your mobile phone bill. It normally confirms who's receiving the payment, the account to be debited, the amount and the dates of the payment. You‘re protected under the Direct Debit Guarantee scheme so that any amount debited in error is refunded immediately.

Continuous Payment Authority

A Continuous Payment Authority (CPA), which is sometimes referred to as a recurring payment or a ‘continuous payment transaction’, is where you give a business permission to regularly take money from your debit or credit card whenever they think they’re owed money. Often payday loan companies, online DVD rental subscriptions, porn websites, magazine subscriptions and gym memberships use this method of payment.

A CPA is different from a standing order or Direct Debit because the payment instruction is with the business, not with a bank. This gives them more flexibility in taking money from your account – they can charge fixed or varying amounts, and they don’t have to specify a date when they’re going to take a payment. 

Find out more on how to make a payment