Your browser isn't supported
It looks like you're using an old web browser. To get the most out of the site and to ensure guides display correctly, we suggest upgrading your browser now. Download the latest:

The MoneySaving Forum: join to chat & swap tips with other MoneySavers. Learn how in the Forum Introduction Guide

Top Cash ISAs 2014/15

1.5% easy access or 2.25% fixed

ISAs: They're a piece of cake

Everyone over 16 in the UK can save up to £15,000 in a cash ISA a year - a savings account where you donít pay tax on the interest. You can get up to 3% and the earlier you save the more you'll earn.

Don't worry if you've opened one in previous tax years, you can open another with whichever provider you choose. If you've already opened one for the current tax year you can top it up to £15,000.

ISA Countdown

If you don't use it, you lose it.

Cash ISAs need-to-knows

  • Cash ISAs now have £15,000 savings limit

    You've probably heard of cash ISAs, they've now been around for more than 17 years. But in July 2014 they underwent the biggest change since they were introduced. You used to be only able to put £5,940 into your cash ISA (this had risen from £3,000 when they were introduced).

    But you're now able to save a massive £15,000 (£15,240 from April 2015) without the taxman being able to take his cut, as he does with normal savings accounts.

  • Cash ISAs are NOT complicated

    Everyone in the UK over 16 has a £15,000 (£15,240 from April 2015) cash ISA allowance. The allowance can be used to max out your cash ISA or stocks & shares ISA - how you split the money is entirely up to you. Plus, from autumn, first-time buyers will be able to choose a Help to Buy ISA, giving them an up to £3,000 bonus if they're saving towards a house.

    The slate's wiped clean at the beginning of every tax year on 6 April, so even if you opened up one just before the tax year ended on 5 April, you can do it all over again.

    And even if you opened a cash ISA at the beginning of the new tax year on 6 April and maxed that out with the full £5,940, you can top it up to the full £15,000 any time before 5 April, and it'll all count as your 2014/15 allowance. See full ISA FAQs.

    There are easy-access and fixed options, just like normal savings. It's that simple. But for some reason many over-complicate them.

    Don't be scared. Ideally, we wish we could hypnotise people so when they read "cash ISA", they actually see:

    It's a savings account you don't pay tax on.

    Know this and it all becomes clearer. Some people don't have a cash ISA because they believe they have to lock their money away. But it's just a savings account - you don't need to lock cash away if you choose an easy-access account.

    Still not sure? It's time for an analogy

    For years now - whether on TV, radio or in his book - Martin's used the same analogy to explain ISAs. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, so here come the cakes...

    A potential ISA scenario, how ISAs work and how you can increase your savings
    Quick questions

    What happens to the allowance if I haven't used it by the end of the tax year?

    Can I make withdrawals?

    How many ISAs can you have?

    Can I split between a fixed and easy access ISA?

    Is my money safe in an ISA?

  • Unlike savings accounts, earn £100 in ISA interest, keep £100 (for now)

    The gain is simple. In a cash ISA, you keep the whole amount - that £100 in interest goes straight into your savings pot without even thinking about stopping for the taxman.

    This is unlike a normal savings account where, if you earn £100, you'll only receive £80 after basic-rate tax. After higher rate tax, it's £60.

    So, as long as rates are similar, ISAs win. This should spell it out:

    On £100 interest, higher rate taxpayers keep £60, basic rate taxpayers keep £80, but all taxpayers keep £100 in an ISA

    However, from April 2016, this won't necessarily be the case. All basic-rate taxpayers will get a savings allowance of £1,000 Ė thatís the amount they can earn in savings interest before paying any tax. However, this doesnít negate all the advantages of ISAs. There are many who will still benefit from saving in an ISA even if their tax status would be the same wherever they saved.

    Why should I still save in an ISA if I wonít pay any tax on interest?

  • Cash in an ISA stays tax-free YEAR AFTER YEAR

    Cash in an ISA stays tax-free as long as it's in there. The aim's to protect more of your money which is why we nag you about using the full ISA allowance if you can.

    If you miss a year now, you might regret it five years later. If you've big savings, you can gradually protect more and more of your cash. Those who started saving when ISAs were first introduced in 1999 could now be sitting on a good tax-free lump sum.

    Money in an ISA stays tax-free year after year - you could have £62,000 plus interest now
  • Check rates on old ISAs, as many are pitiful

    Savings providers like us to think once our money's in, it's a done deal. This is wrong. Many old ISAs now pay appallingly low rates - check yours now. If the rates don't come close to the current best buys, ditch and transfer.

    But you've a RIGHT TO TRANSFER to boost them. Consolidating new & old cash ISAs together into one new shiny ISA makes it much easier to transfer again in the future.

    Our ISA Transfers guide has full options. Don't withdraw the cash though, as it'd no longer be in an ISA. Tell the new provider to transfer it for you instead.

  • Earn 5% on your ISA money now

    ISA rates are higher than normal top savings rates, but they are beaten by high rates on some current accounts to persuade you to switch to them.

    As many current accounts only allow sub £3,000 worth of savings, it's worth saving in both a current account and a cash ISA if you've got more than that. Alternatively, you can earn 3% with Santander on the full £15,000.

    Of course the key is you donít pay tax on ISAs, so you have to compare it to the after tax rate. Here are the top picks - click the links below for full info on these accounts.

    • Santander 123 pays 3% on £3,000 - £20,000. Thatís 2.4% after basic-rate tax, and 1.8% after higher rate.
    • Club Lloyds pays 4% on £4,000 - £5,000. For basic-rate taxpayers that's 3.2% after tax, for higher-rate payers it's 2.4%.
    • TSB pays 5% on up to £2,000. That's 4% after tax for basic-rate taxpayers, 3% for higher rate.
    • Nationwide FlexDirect pays 5% on up to £2,500 for a year, 1% after that. That's 4% after tax for basic-rate taxpayers, 3% for higher rate.

    You also need to look at the bigger, long-term picture. Saving in an ISA guarantees tax-free status on that cash for as long as it's kept in an ISA. Interest on a current account is likely to be short-lived. Though in an ideal world, you'd have both. Try this:

    First, put cash in a high-interest bank account. As long as the after-tax rate beats your chosen ISA, do this now rather than using your ISA allowance. See Current Accounts for the full options.

    Then, use the cash to open an ISA in March 2015. A week before the tax year ends, move the cash out of the bank account to fill your ISA allowance. That way you get the short-term high rate from the banks, but you still get the tax-free benefit of your ISA allowance. See Martin's ISAs vs high-rate bank accounts blog from earlier in the year for full details.

Best buys Easy-access ISAs

Easy-access cash ISAs mean you can take out your money when you want it. Once you've taken it out you can't put it back in.

However, there are fixed rates that offer some access so don't plump for an easy access unless you know you need to be able to withdraw the money within the first year.

Post Office logo

1.5% on new money & transfers

Post Office 1.5% AER

If you're looking for a top easy access cash ISA you can manage online, then the Online Cash ISA account from Post Office pays the top rate. It includes a 0.85% bonus for 12 months, which effectively acts as a minimum rate guarantee. But the rate will almost certainly plummet after that, so you'll need to diarise to transfer then.

1.5,1
Need-to-knows
  • You can make unlimited deposits, provided you stay within the £15,000 ISA limit.

  • This account has unlimited withdrawals.

  • It's only available online so if you prefer branch access, another Post Office ISA pays the same rate - but you can only make two withdrawals from the Premier ISA.

  • Post Office allows you to split your ISA allowance across its ISA products.

  • Post Office shares its £85,000 UK saving safety guarantee with Bank of Ireland. See more information about the Savings Safety rules.

Apply

Application deadline 2014/2015
Online Sun 5 Apr, 11pm
Post Tue 31 Mar
SUMMARY:

Rate: 1.5% AER variable (incl 0.85% bonus for 12mths) | Min deposit: £100 | Access: Online | Interest paid: Annually | Allows previous ISA transfers: Yes

Post Office logo

1.5% but only on new money

Skipton BS 1.5% AER*

The Bonus Cash ISA from Skipton BS* also pays a top 1.5% rate, and is good for those who need regular access to their cash. But it doesn't allow you to transfer in old ISA money and you can only open and manage the account online.

1.5,1
Need-to-knows
  • The rate includes a 0.5% bonus for the first 12 months. After, the rate will drop so you'll need to be ready to transfer out when it does.

  • It's only available online but if you prefer there's a similar branch/post* version available.

  • You can withdraw from the account at any time without penalty.

  • Skipton Building Society has the full £85,000 UK savings protection. See more information about the Savings Safety rules.

Apply

Application deadline 2014/2015
Branch Sat 4 Apr, 4pm
Online Sun 5 Apr, 11.59pm
Post Thu 2 Apr
SUMMARY:

Rate: 1.5% AER incl 0.5% bonus for 12mths | Min deposit: £1 | Access: Post or branch | Interest paid: Annually or monthly | Allows previous ISA transfers: No

NS&I

1.5% but only on new money

NS&I 1.5% AER

The NS&I Direct ISA pays the same rate as the ISAs above, but there's no bonus, so monitor the rate and be prepared to ditch and transfer if it drops (though NS&I's rates rarely change). It's only available on new ISA cash, meaning you can't transfer in old ISAs. NS&I protects 100% of your cash, but this isn't such a big draw these days, as all UK-registered providers protect up to £85,000.

1.5,1
Need-to-knows
  • You can withdraw your cash at any time.

  • You can make unlimited deposits, provided you stay within the £15,000 ISA limit.

  • There's no bonus on the account, so monitor the rate and be prepared to ditch and transfer if it drops.

  • NS&I is the only savings provider fully backed by the UK Government, so it protects 100% of your cash. See more information about the Savings Safety rules.

Apply

Application deadline 2014/2015
Online Sun 5 Apr, 11.59pm
Phone Sun 5 Apr, 11.59pm
SUMMARY:

Rate: 1.5% AER variable | Min deposit: £1 | Access: Online/phone | Interest paid: Annually on 5 April | Allows previous ISA transfers: No

WARNING! You can easily beat these rates Get up to 2.25% from easy access loophole

Itís really worth considering whether you really need easy access. Most people keep their cash in ISAs for the long term Ė if so, you can smash the rates above. Better still weíve got a loophole that enable you to earn more and still have some access to your cash.

Earn 2.25% fixed with access. With fixed cash ISAs unlike normal fixed savings, they canít lock your cash in, yet they can levy interest penalties for withdrawals. Using the Coventry BS 2.25% ISA you get a fixed rate but only lose 120 days' interest as a penalty for withdrawal, meaning keep it in for 11 months and it's beating easy access anyway.

Trick to earn up to 2.02% on lump sum and regular savings. If you've a lump sum in savings and also want to save regularly into an ISA, drip feed your cash into the†Newcastle BS 2.02% regular saver ISA†and you can earn 1.55% to 2.02% over a year (depending how much you put in) and keep access to your cash.

Help - I want a last-minute ISA

The best easy-access options are above, but right now the most important thing if you haven't already got one, is just to get one open and†ensure you get the money in†before the deadline - or you lose this year's allowance. If that's a struggle, opt for the easy route...

Open an easy access ISA with your bank, and pay in this years' ISA money. Then once that's done transfer it to a best buy ISA.

The accounts below are the big banks' easy access ISAs. They all allow you to save from £1 and allow you to transfer in old ISAs. None have transfer out penalties, so you're free to move later. Bookmark our ISA Transfers guide for how to shift it to get a good rate.

Bank Rate Application deadline
Bank of Scotland 1% incl a 0.5% bonus for 12mths Apply online by 5 April, 11.59pm. Get your money in by 5 April, 11.59pm.
Apply in branch by 4 April, before closing. You will need to book an appointment to open an account. Check your local branch for opening hours.
Apply by phone by 5 April, 4pm. Get your money in by 5 April, 11.59pm. Lines are open 24hrs for deposits only.
Barclays 1.29% AER Apply online by 5 April, 11pm. Get your money in by 5 April, 11.59pm.
Apply by phone by 5 April 11.59pm.
Apply in branch by 4 April, before closing. If depositing in branch your funds need to be in by close of business 4 April.
Clydesdale 0.7% AER Apply by phone by 22 March, before lines close.
Apply in branch by 2 April, before branch closing. All deposits must be made by close of business 2 April.
First Direct 1.3% AER Apply online by 5 April, 11.59. Get your money in by 5 April, 11.59pm.
Apply by post by 2 April. Deposits made by post must be received by 2 April
Halifax 1.05% incl 0.8% bonus
for 12mths
Apply online by 5 April, 11.59pm. Get your money in by 5 April, 11.59pm.
Apply in branch by 4 April, before closing. You will need to book an appointment to open an account. Check your local branch for opening hours.
Apply by phone by 5 April, 4pm. Get your money in by 5 April, 11.59pm. Lines are open 24hrs for deposits only.
HSBC 1.6% Premier customers
1.5% Advance customers
1.4% all other accounts
Apply online by 5 April, 11.59pm.
Apply by phone by 5 April, 7pm. Get your money in by 5 April, 11.59pm.
Apply in branch by 5 April, before closing. Some branches will be closed from 2 and 4 April, so check your local branch's opening hours.
Apply by post by 2 April. Deposits made by post must be received by 2 April.
Lloyds 0.8% incl 0.3% bonus for 12mths Apply online by 5 April, 11.59pm. Get your money in by 5 April, 11.59pm.
Apply in branch by 4 April, before closing. You will need to book an appointment to open an account. Check your local branch for opening hours.
Apply by phone by 5 April, 4pm. Get your money in by 5 April, 11.59pm. Lines are open 24hrs for deposits.
NatWest/RBS 0.5% AER Apply online by 5 April, midnight.
Apply in branch
by 4 April, before closing. Check your local branch opening times.
Apply by phone by 4 April. Private banking customers can open the account on 5 April.
Nationwide 1.25% AER Apply in branch by 4 April, 12pm. All deposits must be made by 12pm.
Apply online by 5 April, 11.59pm if you are registered for online banking. Get your money in by 5 April, 11.59pm.
Apply by post by 3 April. Applications will be backdated if received seven days after 6 April, as long as the date on the application is before 6 April. You have up to seven days after 6 April to send in a cheque by post. The cheque will be backdated to the date noted on the cheque (make sure the date is before 6 April, otherwise it will count for the new tax year).
Santander 1% AER Apply online by 5 April, 9pm. Get your money in by 5 April, 11.59pm.
Apply by phone by 4 April, 4pm. Get your money in by 5 April, 4pm, if making a deposit by phone.
Apply in branch by 4 April, before closing. You will need to book an appointment, so check before going and ensure you have a cheque or cash.

Check local options

On occasion a few small building societies or credit unions may beat these with special deals for people in their locality, or for existing customers, so it's worth checking yours. All these rates are variable, meaning providers can change the interest whenever they like. Therefore always monitor what yours pays and transfer again if it drops. For more options and alternatives, read the Credit Unions and Top ISA Transfers guides.

Best buys Regular saver ISAs

You can set up a standing order and save money in an easy-access ISA every month, but special regular saver ISAs often offer a slightly better rate for this.

But remember, the rate is calculated based on money being in the account for a full year. With regular savers, it takes a year to build up to the maximum.

Newcastle BS

New rate. 2.02% top regular saver (and trick to save lump sums too)

Newcastle Building Society 2.02% regular ISA

The Newcastle Building Society Big Home Saver ISA is the highest paying regular saver account paying 2.02% AER variable. Yet you only earn that in a month if you a) deposit £1 to £1,250 in it and b) donít withdraw cash that month Ė otherwise itís 1% AER for that month.

Normally, to benefit from the high rate you can't save a large lump sum. Yet because it can be linked to Newcastleís other ISAs thereís actually a great trick to do both - earning you more interest than just sticking into an easy-access account each month.

How to use this account to save lump sums at a high rate


Need-to-knows
  • Miss a payment or withdraw cash and your interest is reduced to 1% AER variable for that month.

  • You can vary the amount you pay in each month between £1 and £1,250.

  • Newcastle BS offers up to £1,000 cashback if you save £5,000-£10,000, then take out a mortgage with it. But first check Mortgage Best Buys to compare its mortgages.

  • Newcastle BS has the full £85,000 UK protection. See more information about the Savings Safety rules.

Apply

Application deadline 2014/2015
Online Thu 2 Apr, 3pm
Post Mon 30 Mar
Phone Mon 30 Mar, 6pm
Branch Thu 2 Apr, 5pm
SUMMARY:

Rate: 2.02% AER variable (incl. 1% bonus) | Min deposit: £1-£1,250 per month | Access: Online, post or branch | Interest paid: Monthly | Allows previous ISA transfers: No | Withdrawal restrictions: No, but lose interest bonus if withdrawal made

Best buys Notice cash ISAs

If you don't need instant access to your cash you can boost your rate slightly with a notice cash ISA. With these accounts you can have access to your cash should you need it, but you'll need to let them know in advance - often a couple of months notice.

At the moment there aren't any decent notice ISAs but as soon as there are we'll update here.

Best buys Fixed-rate cash ISAs allowing access

Fixed-rate savings are designed to lock money away for a set period. But by law, cash ISA providers MUST allow you access to your money, whenever you want it, though most will levy heavy penalties to do so.

However, one account allows access to your cash with a low penalty, so it's worth getting over instant access, even if you have no intention of keeping it for the full term. And if you don't need to withdraw, then you get the full benefit of the boosted rate for the entire length of the fix.

Clydesdale

Loophole allows you to get 2.25% on new ISA cash - with access

Coventry Building Society 2.25% AER

This loophole works to give you both a boosted rate, and access to your cash. Coventry Building Society pays 2.25% AER fixed until 30 November 2018. If you find you need access to your cash before then, you can close the account (including transfers to another account) for a 120-day interest penalty, roughly a third of the annual 2.25% rate, bringing it to 1.51% if you withdrew after a year.

2.25,1
Need-to-knows
  • If you close the account after two years, you'll get an average rate of 1.88%. And after three years gives an average of 2%.

  • You can deposit any amount from £1 up to the £15,000 ISA limit.

  • You must make your initial deposit within 10 calendar days of opening the account.

  • Coventry Building Society has the full £85,000 UK savings safety guarantee. See more information about the Savings Safety rules.

Apply

Application deadline 2014/2015
Online Sat 4 Apr, 5pm
Post Sat 4 Apr
Phone Existing customers only by Sat 4 Apr, 5pm
Branch Sat 4 Apr, close of branch
SUMMARY:

Rate: 2.25% AER | Min deposit: £1 | Access: Online/phone/branch | Interest paid: Annually on 30 November | Allows previous ISA transfers: No | CLOSURE penalty: 120 days' interest

How other top fixed-rate ISAs compare to the Coventry ISA:
Effective rate withdrawing after (2)
Provider Rate (AER) Fixed Term transfer allowed? Interest paid Penalty to withdraw 1yr 2yr 3yr 4yr 5yr
Top pick deals with low penalties
Coventrycoventry savings logo 2.25% (min £1) Until 30 Nov 2018 No Annually 120 days' interest (1) 1.51% 1.88% 2% 2.25% -
Other fixed ISAs (all allow transfers & early access/closure)
State Bank
of India*state-bank-of-india-savings-logo
2.5% (min £15,000) Five years Yes Annually loss of 1% interest 1.5% 1.5% 1.5% 1.5% 2.5%

If you've less to save you can earn the same rate by opening this State Bank of India ISA. The min deposit is £5,000.
For 2014/15: apply online and in branches by Tue 31 Mar. Ensure you fund it on time.

State Bank
of India*state-bank-of-india-savings-logo
2.3% (min £15,000) Three years Yes Annually loss of 1% interest 1.3% 1.3% 2.3% - -

If you've less to save you can earn the same rate by opening this State Bank of India ISA. The min deposit is £5,000.
For 2014/15: apply online and in branch by Tue 31 Mar. Ensure you fund it on time.

Post Officepost office savings logo 1.95% (min £500) Two years Yes Annually 180 days' interest 0.98% 1.95% - - -

For 2014/15: apply online by 11pm, Sun 5 Apr. Apply in branch by Sat 28 Mar. Apply by post by Tue 31 Mar. Ensure you fund it on time.

Virgin
MoneyVirgin Money savings logo
1.65% (min £1) One year Yes Annually 60 days' interest 1.65% - - - -

For 2014/15: opening deadline TBC.

(1) Partial withdrawals not permitted - you must close the account. (2) The effective rate will be slightly less if you add more than one lump sum but the accounts will be in roughly the same order as keeping the same amount in there.

Best buys Ethical cash ISAs

Ethical savings accounts - where providers behave ethically in terms of the environment, human rights and more - have jumped in popularity. Our main focus always is telling you the top savings rates, but to match demand we've worked with Ethical Consumer to list the top-paying accounts that also rate highly on their ethics.

ethical consumer savings scale

Ethical easy access savings - earn up to 1.5%

ALL THE ACCOUNTS BELOW HAVE THE FULL £85,000 UK GUARANTEE

Skipton BS 1.5% AER incl 0.5% bonus for 12mths- no transfers in

Ethical Rating 13/20

The Bonus Cash ISA from Skipton BS pays a top 1.5% rate on balances from £1. But you can't transfer in old ISAs and you can only open the account in branch or by post. Skipton Building Society has the full £85,000 UK savings protection. See more information about the Savings Safety rules.

Coventry BS 1.4% AER variable - no transfers in

Ethical Rating 13/20

The Easy Access ISA from Coventry BS pays 1.4% AER variable. You need to open the account with at least £1 but it's only for new ISA cash - you can't transfer in previous years' ISAs. The account can be opened online, by phone or post or in branch. Coventry BS shares its £85,000 FSCS protection with Stroud & Swindon Building Society.

Ethical fixed savings - earn up to 2.25%

ALL THE ACCOUNTS BELOW HAVE THE FULL £85,000 UK GUARANTEE

Coventry BS 2.25% AER fixed for one to four years

Ethical Rating 13.5/20

The Coventry Building Society fixed-rate ISA pays 2.25% AER until 30 Nov 2018, but its low 120-day withdrawal penalty makes a decent bet even if you don't keep it for the full term. You can save from £1, but you can't transfer in old ISAs. Coventry BS shares its £85,000 FSCS protection with Stroud & Swindon Building Society.

Kent Reliance 1.85% AER fixed for two years - allows transfers in

Ethical Rating 13.5/20

The two-year fixed-rate cash ISA from Kent Reliance pays 1.85% AER from £1,000, plus you can transfer in previous years' ISAs. The account can be opened online, by post or in branch.

ISA Countdown

If you don't use it, you lose it.

Use the net to compare top rates

Fixed rate deals can change regularly. For a full list of fixed rate ISAs, use the MoneySupermarket* comparison (select cash ISAs and then bonds) or Moneyfacts. Though remember, they're just a simple list of top rates, so ensure you check for the possible pitfalls noted in this article.

The ISA savings calculator

When using the calculator below, use the AER (annual equivalent rate) for increased accuracy. It should be listed on your statement. Obviously as most accounts' interest rates are variable, the answers will change if the rate does, so only use the calculator to get a rough indication of your likely outcome.

How much do you need to save? £
How much do you already have? £
How much can you save a month? £
Whatís the interest rate? %
How much do you need to save? £
How much do you already have? £
Whatís the interest rate? %
When do you need it by? years and months time.
How much do you already have? £
How much can you save a month? £
Whatís the interest rate? %
How far ahead do you want to look? years and months time.

Click here to use the ISA savings calculator

The calculator assumes you put money in at the beginning of each month, so if this isn't how you do it, the answers will be ever-so-slightly out. If you don't make regular deposits but put in lump sums, figure out the monthly equivalent for a rough answer. Feel free to play with the results to see how your savings are affected.

ISA FAQs

Here's a list of the most common queries. If you've got a question we've not answered below, in the text above or in Martin's ISA video below, suggest a question in the forum.

Moving your ISA

  • Iíve got several ISAs from previous years Ė can I put them all into one?

  • If I open an ISA in the current tax year, then the rate drops, can I move it?

  • Can I transfer my ISA to someone else?


  • Using and accessing your ISA

  • Can I open a joint ISA with my partner?

  • What happens to money in a cash ISA if the person has passed away?

  • Will I get any interest if I haven't had money in the account for a full year?

  • If I take money out of my ISA, do I then pay tax on it at my usual rate?

  • Should I use my ISA allowance for cash or stocks & shares?


  • Alternatives to ISAs

  • Is it even worth saving in an ISA as rates are so low?

  • Should I offset my mortgage instead of putting cash into an ISA?

  • Should non-taxpayers bother with ISAs when it makes no difference?

  • Cash ISAs vs premium bonds - what's best?