Why can’t I write a cheque in blue ink?

8 January 2019

Moneywise helps a reader trying to pay in cheques

I run two charities and tried to pay some cheques into my bank this morning.  My charities both bank with CAF (Charities Aid Foundation), which uses HSBC as its clearing house. HSBC has closed its local branch, so it is now about seven or eight miles to my nearest branch.

The teller said that the bank had a new system for accepting cheques and that those written in blue ink might be rejected and returned to us. Other people in the queue were as appalled as I was.

As a charity, we receive lots of cheques through the post without a covering note, so it could be difficult to track down the payee. Surely as long as the writing is clear and legible, then any scanner should recognise the information on the cheque?

The cheques I was paying in had come from a funeral, so I can hardly go back to the deceased’s family and ask them for replacement cheques.

If this doesn’t change, I will have to move both charities’ banking to another bank, as around 50% of our cheques are written in colours other than black.


It appears there has been a miscommunication and the bank said it will accept cheques written in blue ink. It seems that a member of staff may have been over-enthusiastic about encouraging cheques to be written in black ink.

HSBC told me: “It is not clear how this misunderstanding came about, but all of our staff have been fully briefed on cheque imaging and are now starting to talk to customers about the new way of depositing cheques.

Blue ink is not a problem at any branch. While other coloured ink on a cheque would still be accepted, like other industries where scanning is used – such as Royal Mail – the darker and more pronounced the writing, the less chance of there being an issue during scanning and processing.”

Apparently, black is best, blue is fine, but red or green might not be seen.

OUTCOME: Cheques written in blue ink are still welcome


In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Regards HSBC, I recently tried paying cash into my daughters account using a traditional pay in slip but was told I could not (even though the slip had all the columns for notes & coinage). I had to go home and write a cheque which was acceptable... Very strange as I thought all the Banks hate accepting cheques now!! They wouldn't even accept a pay in by Debit card!

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