Whether it’s buying Christmas presents or paying heating bills, payments are arguably never more important than in the winter.  Below is a selection of top payment tips for the season.


Beware of the scammers

November and December can be a prime time for fraudsters, so it makes sense to be on your guard. Take care when using cash machines or when paying by card at a bar. You should always be aware of anyone lurking behind you while you’re paying – shield your PIN from prying eyes.   


Sending money in the post

Most of us know someone who is impossible to buy for. If you decide to take the easy way out this year and give them money, take precautions. If you’re sending money or a cheque in the post, you should consider using Royal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed. This will enable you to claim compensation in the event of any loss.   


Check and double check

If you’re going down the electronic route and sending someone money via your online bank account, always double check the sort code and account number when sending a payment. If you make a mistake with either of these numbers it may be difficult to get the money back. Although it’s not quite in the Christmas spirit, you can reassure yourself that you have the correct payment details by sending a low-value test payment. 


Take the hassle out of joint presents 

Clubbing together to get something extra special is often a nice idea that works well for siblings or groups of friends. It means you only need to have one great idea, as opposed to loads of them. Register for Paym – if you haven’t already – then you can split the cost of the present and settle up with each other using just your mobile telephone numbers. 


Take cover with credit

Sadly, sometimes companies do go bust – even at Christmas. If that happens and goods you have ordered haven't arrived, or have but are faulty, it can be a nightmare for you. However, if you have used a credit card to make the payment then you have protection through Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. If you’ve used a credit card to pay even partly for something costing between £100 and £30,000, the credit card company is jointly liable for the whole amount of your loss.


What day is it again? 

Remember that bank holidays over the festive period are not working days for banks – so payments in or out of your account may not take place on the day you expect them to. You can avoid any late payment charges by making sure you‘ve got enough cash in your account to cover any payments that are due. It’s tricky at this time of year, but you should try to have some emergency funds in your account in case you need to make any unexpected payments.