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Transfer Your Cash ISAs

Get 1.41% 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.

ISA Post Office Logo

Top rate, plus includes a bonus which acts as a minimum rate guarantee

Post Office 1.41% AER

The Online Cash ISA account from Post Office pays the top rate. It includes a 0.76% bonus for 12 months, which effectively acts as a rate guarantee. However, the rate will plummet after a year, so you'll need to diarise to transfer then.

1.41,1
Need-to-knows
  • You can make unlimited deposits, provided you stay within the £15,240 ISA limit.

  • You can make unlimited penalty-free withdrawals from the account. But it could take up to four working days for the Post Office to transfer your money to a nominated account.

  • 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.

SUMMARY:

Rate: 1.41% AER variable (incl 0.76% bonus for 12mths) | Min deposit: £100 | Access: Online | Interest paid: Annually | Allows previous ISA transfers: Yes

ISA Post Office Logo

Joint highest payer, but fewer withdrawals allowed

Virgin Money 1.41% AER

The Defined Access E-ISA account Virgin Money pays the same rate as the Post Office ISA above, but allows fewer penalty-free withdrawals. The lack of bonus means the rate is less likely to plummet in a year, but bonus deals are also a minimum rate guarantee – as savings providers often secretly drop rates, bonuses give short-term protection.

1.41,1
Need-to-knows
  • You can make unlimited deposits, provided you stay within the £15,240 ISA limit.

  • You get three penalty-free withdrawals a year, any more and the rate drops to 0.75%.

  • Virgin Money has the full £85,000 UK savings safety guarantee.
SUMMARY:

Rate: 1.41% AER variable | Min deposit: £1 | Access: Online | Interest paid: Annually | Allows previous ISA transfers: Yes

Best buys Linked accounts

Santander savings Logo

High rate for Nationwide current account customers

Nationwide 1.6% AER easy-access

If you hold a Nationwide current account, you can get its Flexclusive ISA, paying the market-leading easy access rate. It also allows you to transfer in old ISA cash.

Need-to-knows
  • If you hold a FlexAccount you must have paid in £750/mth for the last three months or completed a switch in last four months to be eligible.

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

  • The rate is variable and can drop at any time. Keep an eye on the account, and if the rate drops, transfer out to a better payer.

  • Nationwide has the full £85,000 savings guarantee. See more information about the Savings Safety rules.
SUMMARY:

Rate: 1.6% AER variable | Min deposit: £1 | Access: Online/branch | 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
Skipton BSShawbrook Bank logo 1.62% £500 Online Annually 180 days' interest Full
Post OfficePost Office logo 1.61% £500 Branch only Annually 90 days' interest Shared with the Bank of Ireland UK

The best two-year fixed rate ISAs

Product Rate(AER) Min Deposit How to Open Interest paid Withdrawal penalty FSCS Protection
Kent RelianceJulain Hodge logo 1.85% £1,000 Online, Post, branch Annually 180 days' interest Full
Aldermore
Santander
1.85% £1,000 Online, post, phone Annually 180 days' interest Full

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 or min £5,000 by post Online Annually Interest drops
to 1.5% (closure)
Full
AldermoreShawbrook Bank logo 2% £1,000 Online, phone or post Annually 180 days' interest Full

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 or min £5,000 by post

Online Annually Interest drops
to 1.5% (closure)
Full
Shawbrook BankShawbrook Bank logo 2.25% £5,000 Online Annually 360 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.

Want to complain about your savings provider?

If your savings provider has given you the incorrect interest rate, or you haven't received your interest at all, then you don't have to suffer in silence. It's always worth trying to call your provider first to see if it can help, but if not...

Resolver Info Box

This tool helps you draft your complaint and manage it too. It’s totally free, and offered by a firm called Resolver, which we like so much we work with it to help people get complaints justice.

If the complaint isn't resolved, Resolver will automatically escalate it to the free Financial Ombudsman Service.

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?