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Transfer Your Cash ISAs

Get 1.6% easy access, or 2.5% fixed

Cherry on the ISA cakeAn ISA is just a tax-free savings account. For this year's ISA cash, you can save up to £15,240. But you can also boost rates on old ISA cash too.

Many of your old ISAs will be paying rates as low as 0.1%. If you've got one, you can transfer to a different ISA provider to get up to 30 times more interest. It's a lot nicer (for your money) in a ISA!

What is an ISA?

If you have savings, and aren't using an ISA (individual savings account), then you're over-engorging the taxman's pocket. An ISA is simply an untaxed savings account, so you'd get more money, simply by putting your cash into an ISA.

For 13 years now, whether on telly, radio or in m'book, I've used the same analogy to explain ISAs. So why stop now? Here come the cakes! For more see the full ISA Guide.

cake analogy of how ISAs are tax free and how they work

The amount you can save tax-free has gone up to £15,240, and you now have greater flexibility over where to save your ISA money - the whole chunk can be used either for a cash ISA, a stocks & shares ISA, or both.

As ISAs began back in 1999, it's now possible to have over £86,000, plus interest, tucked away in them (and more in stocks & shares ISAs). But if you've not kept your eye on the rate, then it's probably dropped lower than a limbo dancer.

Luckily, you're free to switch your ISA money about, meaning it's possible to surf a wave of the top tax-free rates. That's as long as the new account's rules allow cash ISA transfers, and not all of them do.

Why do an ISA transfer?

Well, the best reason to do one is that you can get a better rate in a different account.

But, that's not the only reason. You might be transferring from an account that restricts when you can pay in to the account, or one that limits your access to your cash.

You might even be transferring a stocks and shares ISA into a cash ISA, or vice versa.

There are many reasons to transfer an ISA into a new account, but what they all have in common is that the ISA you're currently saved in is no longer the right fit for you.

How to transfer: The golden rule!

Transferring an old ISA is a technical process, it's not just like switching a normal savings account. Yet as long as you abide by the golden ISA transfers rule, it should go smoothly.

Never, ever, ever, ever withdraw money from a cash ISA!
You'll immediately lose all the tax benefits.

Instead, speak to the new provider and fill out an ISA transfer form. Your new company should then sort it all out, including moving the money over for you, keeping your tax-free benefits intact.

The banks have agreed to a guideline of 15 working days for the transfer to take place, so you should begin to receive interest within this time. If it goes much over 15 working days, it's worth complaining to the ISA provider to see if they can then speed it up, or at least compensate you if the delay means that you lose a decent chunk of interest.

Any reason not to transfer?

You may be charged a penalty by your current provider for transferring out. This is not common these days, but always check, especially if your accounts are quite old.

A small penalty like 30 days' lost interest isn't Listen up! The golden rule of ISAs… such a big issue, but a higher fee effectively locks you in, as the gain from switching is gazumped by the transfer charge. If your ISA has a penalty for leaving, work out whether you'll be better off by switching to the better interest rate.

How safe are your savings?

Bank collapse was once easy to dismiss, then the credit crunch and global market turmoil hit. The UK soon found itself bailing out Northern Rock, and the US authorities followed for even bigger bank Bear Stearns. These days every sensible saver should ask: is my money safe?

The answer's quite simple. Provided your money is in a UK-regulated bank or building society account, it's protected under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). Its golden rule counts for ISAs too...

The first £85,000 per person, per financial institution is guaranteed.

Sadly, this is the simple face of savings safety; the exact rules are more complex, involving how different banks are registered and what counts as a financial institution. For full info on the rules, see the detailed Are Your Savings Safe? guide.

Dont put all your Eggs in a basket, get an ISA

How to maximise safety

Unless you've done very well in terms of earning interest, any cash ISA balance is unlikely to top this £85,000 limit (yet), so there's likely to be no problem. But if your cash ISA savings plus interest do exceed £85,000, then for safety, you'll need to split your ISA cash between at least two ISA providers.

Plus, if you have further savings in other accounts with the same bank or building society, then in the unlikely event that it went bust only the first £85,000 is fully guaranteed. For total peace of mind, don't put more than this in any one institution; spread it around.

For those with very large amounts of savings (for example, from a house sale), this could lead to lots of accounts. Even if you've too much to stick to the £85,000 limit for each one, the general rule of not having all your eggs in one basket still works.

This guide and best buys

It's impossible to pick "which bank is in trouble?". We've seen great names of world banking like Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch in trouble. Therefore the only solution for this site is that we'll report the top rates regardless, alongside explaining any protection oddities. So far, world governments have reacted to protect their banks and no savers have lost money, and it's likely (though not certain) this will continue.

Best buys The UK's best ISAs

Not all cash ISAs accept transfers in, especially the top paying ones. Their high rates are intended to grab headlines and new customers, but cost the banks as little as possible. Yet at the moment, most of the best ISAs do allow transfers in, which is great news!

As cash ISAs are generally 'variable rate', meaning they move both with the Bank of England base rate and for providers' own competitive reasons, always check every six months or so that your rate is still competitive. If not, transfer to a better payer. For alternatives to monitoring interest rates, read the Fixed Rate ISAs section.

It's also worth checking how quickly you'd be able to access your money. We list the top transfer-accepting ISAs, but some of these accounts may have withdrawal restrictions or penalties. If you might need it, make sure the account you pick allows you to easily access your money.

Unless stated, all the accounts have full protection under the £85,000 per person, per institution rules. Though do check how institutions are linked and other notes in the Safe Savings guide.

Top easy-access ISA

If you want a simpler option, easy-access ISAs offer unlimited access without notice.

Post Office logo

1.6% for new money and transfers

Skipton BS 1.6% AER

If you're looking for a top easy access cash ISA for your new tax-year money, or even for old ISAs, then the Limited Edition Cash ISA from Skipton BS pays the highest rate. But the account is likely to go fast, so if you want the market-leading rate, don't wait long to get it.

1.6,1
Need-to-knows
  • There's no bonus on the account, so monitor the rate and be prepared to ditch and transfer if it drops.

  • The account can only be opened and managed online.

  • 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.

SUMMARY:

Rate: 1.6% AER | Min deposit: £1 | Access: Online | Interest paid: Annually or monthly | Allows previous ISA transfers: Yes

West Brom logo

1.55% next best rate for transfers

The West Bromwich BS 1.55% AER

The WebSaver Limited Access account from The West Bromwich BS pays the second highest rate for ISA transfers. But, you have limited access to your cash - you can only make three withdrawals a year - so if you're likely to need access to your cash more often you're better off transferring the ISA as your third withdrawal to one that allows unlimited withdrawals rather than losing the high rate.

1.55,1000
Need-to-knows
  • You need to open the account with minimum £1,000, but the balance can drop to £1 after.

  • You can withdraw three times per account year (which runs from 6 April 2015 to 5 April 2016). If you make anymore the rate drops to 0.75% for the rest of the year.

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

  • The account can only be opened and managed online.

  • The West Brom BS has the full £85,000 UK FSCS savings safety protection.

SUMMARY:

Rate: 1.55% AER variable | Min deposit: £1,000 | Access: Online | Interest paid: Annually | Allows previous ISA transfers: Yes

Best buys Linked accounts

Santander savings Logo

Top rate on both easy-access and fixed ISAs for Santander 123 customers

Santander 1.5% easy-access/2% fixed

If you hold or open Santander's 123 current account, you can then sign up to its easy-access Direct ISA Saver paying a clean 1.5% rate. Or if you prefer to fix, you could get its two-year fixed-rate ISA paying 2%. Both accounts are market-leading and allow you to transfer in old ISAs.

Need-to-knows
  • If you hold a 123 credit card, or are a Select customer (a bespoke service for wealthier customers, eligibility criteria applies), you can get the ISAs above even if you don't have the 123 current account.

  • You can make unlimited penalty-free withdrawals from the Direct ISA Saver.

  • You can't withdraw from the two-year fixed-rate account, but if you decide to close the account early you'll be charged a penalty of 120 days' interest.

  • After 12 months, the Direct ISA Saver will change into an ISA saver, and the rate'll drop depending on your balance. Check what your rate is and if it's poor, transfer out to a better payer.

  • Santander shares its £85,000 savings guarantee with Cahoot. See more information about the Savings Safety rules.
SUMMARY:

Rate: 1.5% AER variable easy access. 2% AER two-year fix | Min deposit: £500 | Access: Online/branch/phone | Interest paid: Annually | Allows previous ISA transfers: Yes

Logo HSBC

Decent rates, but only available for HSBC bank account customers

HSBC up to 1.6% AER

Existing HSBC customers who have either its Bank, Premier or Advance accounts (or those who switch to them) can get its Loyalty Cash ISA, paying up to 1.6% AER. HSBC Premier holders - a top packaged account option for high-earners (£100k+) - get the top rate of 1.6%, while Advance customers earn 1.5%. If you hold any other HSBC current account, you'll get 1.4%.

Need-to-knows
  • Advance current account holders can get a £10/mth boost on top of the 1.5% interest rate. You either need to deposit £25 a month or a £300 lump sum into the ISA to be eligible - do this and you'll get £120 over the next 12 months.

  • The rate you get applies for 12 months following each deposit. To keep the rate, you must make a deposit at least every 12 months - if you don't, it drops to 0.5%, although your original rate returns when you make your next deposit.

  • HSBC shares its £85,000 savings guarantee with First Direct. See more information about the Savings Safety rules.
SUMMARY:

Rate: Up to 1.6% AER variable | Min deposit: £1 | Access: Online/branch/post/phone | Interest paid: Monthly | Allows previous ISA transfers: Yes

Check your local building society

On occasion a few small building societies 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 Top Cash ISAs guide.

Best buys Fixed-rate ISAs

If you're willing to lock your cash away, there are some alternatives to monitoring interest rates. But remember...

Fixed-rate ISAs give a guaranteed rate for a set period, but you can't take your money out during that time.

Therefore, they're only suitable for those who are happy to lock cash away for the entire term. You lose the flexibility to ditch and switch to a better payer if the rate is no longer competitive compared to others, or if something changes in its safety stakes.

While your money is supposedly locked away for one to five years, providers are forced to permit withdrawals, usually with an interest penalty of up to 365 days. However, they may not allow transfers to other ISA providers, meaning you'd have to lose the tax benefits to get at the cash.

Currently, that's balanced out because some fixed-rate ISAs offer slightly better rates than the easy access variable accounts. This is because with fixed-rate providers, you get surety that you won't want your cash back until a set time, allowing them to plan their lending strategies better.

How many deposits am I allowed to make into a fixed-rate ISA?

The best one-year fixed rate ISAs

Product Rate(AER) Min Deposit How to Open Interest paid Withdrawal penalty FSCS Protection
Shawbrook BankShawbrook Bank logo 1.7% £5,000 Online Annually 90 days' interest Full
Virgin MoneyVirgin Money logo 1.65% £1 Online Annually 60 days' interest Full

The best two-year fixed rate ISAs

Product Rate(AER) Min Deposit How to Open Interest paid Withdrawal penalty FSCS Protection
Shawbrook BankShawbrook Bank logo 1.95% £5,000 Online Annually 180 days' interest Full
Santander
Santander
123 customers only
2% £500 Branch, online, phone Annually 120 days' interest Shared with Cahoot

The best three-year fixed rate ISAs

Product Rate(AER) Min deposit How to open Interest paid Withdrawal penalty FSCS protection
State Bank of India*State Bank of India Logo 2.3% £15,000 Online Annually Interest drops
to 1.5% (closure)
Full
Virgin MoneyJulian Hodge Bank Logo
Term of ISA is till 24 April 2018.
2% £1 Online Annually 120 days' interest Full

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.

The best four-year fixed rates

There are currently no top four-year fixed-rate ISAs on the market.

The best five-year fixed rates

Product Rate(AER) Min deposit How to open Interest paid Withdrawal penalty FSCS protection
State Bank of India*State Bank of India Logo 2.5% £15,000 Online Annually Interest drops
to 1.5% (closure)
Full

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.

Virgin MoneyJulian Hodge Bank Logo
Term of ISA is till 24 May 2020.
2.25% £1 Online Annually 180 days' interest Full

How to compare local, branch-based accounts

Fixed-rate deals can change regularly. We update this guide whenever there's a change, so you'll always see the top ISA accounts accepting transfers here that are available nationwide.

However, we are limited in that we're a national website, so we can't always feature branch-based accounts, for example, from smaller building societies which may have decent rates but aren't available for everyone to apply.

For a full list of fixed-rate ISAs, the Moneyfacts website usually features all ISA accounts on the market. Though remember, it's just a simple list of top rates, so ensure you check for the possible pitfalls noted in this guide.

Do you want to invest for bigger rewards (though you could lose out)?

If you want to up the risk, and potential reward or loss, on your cash ISA money, it's possible to transfer your cash ISA into a stocks & shares ISA. The new ISA rules means you can transfer it the other way round too. Read the full ISA Guide to see what you can transfer, and when.

ISA transfer Q&A

Cash ISA transfers are often an area of confusion. To help clear up fact from fiction, we've put together a quick Q&A to answer your queries.

  • Can I swap between stocks & shares and cash ISAs?

  • Can I transfer into an ISA without paying new money in?

  • How do I open a ISA just to do a transfer?

  • Can I transfer more than one old ISA into a new one?

  • Can I transfer old ISAs AND pay new money into one account?