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Transfer Your Cash ISAs

Get 1.05% easy access, or 1.95% fixed

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Martin

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Tax free ISAAn ISA is just a savings account that's permanently tax-free. You can save up to £20,000 this tax year in an ISA. But you can also boost rates on old ISA cash.

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 10 times more interest. It's a lot nicer (for your money) in a ISA!

Cash ISA Transfer need-to-knows

  • Cash ISAs are just savings accounts you NEVER pay tax on

    Everyone in the UK who's 16 or over gets an ISA allowance at the start of each tax year. For 2017/18 it's £20,000 – if you put money in it then it isn't eligible to be taxed, and this stays the same year after year.

    It really isn't any more complex than that. Just like normal savings, cash ISAs come in different flavours – there's easy access (where you can withdraw money whenever you want), fixed rate (where you get a guaranteed rate, but are supposed to lock cash in for a set time) and a variety of other types.

    Quick questions

    How many ISAs can you have?

    Is my money safe in an ISA?

  • These days, though, all savings are paid tax-free, so should I still keep my ISA savings?

    On 6 April 2016 the new personal savings allowance (PSA) launched. It means all savings are now automatically paid tax-free. Basic 20% rate taxpayers can earn up to £1,000 interest a year without needing to pay tax on it, higher 40% rate taxpayers £500 (top 45% taxpayers will always pay tax on savings)

    For most people that will be enough to make all their savings tax-free, and therefore the question is simply "what pays the highest rate?"

    The answer to that isn't cash ISAs. So for most people with under around £20,000 of total savings, cash ISAs won't be a winner. For example the Santander 123 account pays 1.5% on up to £20,000, more than the top easy-access ISA.

    In fact all ISAs are easily beaten for most people by both top bank account savings, where you get a high rate as part of your current account, and regular savings accounts.

    So when is a cash ISA worth it?

    The most important thing to note is that cash ISA interest doesn't count towards your PSA, so you can earn it tax-free, and still have your full £1,000 (or £500) PSA allowance. Therefore for top-rate taxpayers or bigger savers who've used up the PSA, there are big tax advantages of saving in a cash ISA.

    - Basic-rate taxpayers over the PSA limit.  For every £100 interest you earn in normal savings you only get £80, whereas in an ISA you get the whole £100. Therefore the normal savings rate would have to be 25% higher for it to beat a cash ISA.

    - Higher-rate taxpayers over the PSA limit. For every £100 interest you earn in normal savings you only get £60, whereas in an ISA you get the whole £100. Therefore the normal savings rate would have to be 66% higher for it to beat a cash ISA.

    - Top-rate taxpayers. For every £100 interest you earn in normal savings you only get £55, whereas in an ISA you get the whole £100. Therefore the normal savings rate would have to be 82% higher for it to beat a cash ISA.

    So cash ISAs can be winners even with lower rates. Also it's worth remembering that while £1,000-a-year interest seems a lot now with our current pitiful interest rates, if interest rates rise then more people will need to pay tax. So saving into an ISA now could protect you from future tax.

  • You can transfer your ISA to another provider to boost the rate

    If you've decided to stick with your cash ISAs, you can often get a better rate in a different account – if so, it's a good idea to do an ISA transfer.

    Chasing top rates isn't the only reason to transfer. You might be transferring from an account that restricts when you can pay in, or one that limits your access to your cash.

    You might even be transferring a stocks and shares ISA into a cash ISA or innovative finance 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.

    Quick questions

    Any reason not to transfer?

  • Don't take the money out, ask the new provider to transfer it for you

    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.

    If you want to transfer, never, ever, ever, withdraw money from a cash ISA!
    You'll immediately lose all the lasting 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 ISA cash permanently tax-free.

    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.

  • Cash ISAs can now be flexible – letting you replace withdrawn cash

    Some cash ISAs are flexible meaning you can replace cash withdrawn from them in the same tax year without it using up your year's ISA limit – and this works for previous years' cash too.

    In practice, this means that if you had £1,000 in a flexible cash ISA you could withdraw £500 and replenish it later in the tax year without affecting your ISA limit.

    If an ISA's non-flexible, any withdrawals do count towards your annual ISA limit. A £500 withdrawal from a non-flexible ISA would reduce your annual ISA limit even if you later deposit £500 back into the account.

  • However, it is up to different ISA providers to decide whether their accounts are flexible. We note in our best buys below whether or not the ISAs are flexible.

    For full info on the new flexibility, see Flexible ISAs.

  • 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.

Best buys The UK's best ISAs accepting transfers

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, many 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 ISAs

If you want to be able to withdraw cash regularly, easy-access ISAs let you do just that...

Leeds Building Society

Top rate, though you need to have at least £1,000 to save

Leeds BS* 1.05% AER

The Limited Issue Online ISA from Leeds Building Society* pays the top easy-access rate, though you'll need to keep your account balance above £1,000 to receive it. If you've less, look at the accounts below which can be opened with £1.

This is a bit of an odd account, as there's a chance Leeds could stop accepting deposits in - though it will give 30+ days' notice of this.

1.05,1,000
Need-to-knows
  • You can make unlimited penalty-free withdrawals from the account, though if your balance falls below £1,000 you'll get just 0.05% interest.

  • You must open and manage the account online.
  • You can make unlimited deposits, provided you stay within the £20,000 ISA limit, and provided the account is still accepting depsoits at that time.

  • This ISA is not flexible so any money you take out of it and replace will count again towards your annual ISA allowance. For more on flexible ISAs see our need-to-know.

  • There's no bonus on the account, but it 'matures' on 31 Oct 2018. Your account will then be transferred to Leeds' cash ISA maturity account. You'll be told more details on that account nearer the time, but if its interest rate is low, transfer out to a better-paying ISA.
  • Leeds Building Society has the full £85,000 UK savings safety guarantee.
SUMMARY:

Rate: 1.05% AER variable | Min deposit: £1,000 | Access: Online | Interest paid: On maturity at 31 Oct 2018 | Allows previous ISA transfers: Yes | Flexible: No

Virgin Money logo

Decent rate and you can open with £1, though limited withdrawals

Virgin Money 1.01% AER

The Defined Access E-ISA account from Virgin Money pays a decent rate, but some may prefer it to the Leeds account above as you only need £1 to open it.

The main downside is that it only allows three penalty-free withdrawals per year. Make more than this and you get a lower interest rate, so if you think you'll need regular access to your cash, consider the accounts below which offer unlimited withdrawals.

1.01,1
Need-to-knows
  • You get three penalty-free withdrawals a year; any more & the rate drops to 0.25%.

  • You can make unlimited deposits, provided you stay within the £20,000 ISA limit.

  • There's no bonus on the account so you need to watch in case the rate drops. If it does, transfer out to a better-paying ISA.

  • This ISA is not flexible so any money you take out of it and replace will count again towards your annual ISA allowance. For more on flexible ISAs see our need-to-know.

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

Rate: 1.01% AER variable | Min deposit: £1 | Access: Online only | Interest paid: Annually or monthly | Allows previous ISA transfers: Yes | Flexible: No

ISA Sainsbury's Bank Logo

Same rate as above, but allows unlimited withdrawals

Sainsbury's Bank 1.01% AER

The Cash ISA from Sainsbury's Bank pays the same rate as the Virgin Money account above but it does allow unlimited withdrawals. However, we've ranked it below the Virgin account as you need at least £500 in it to get the full rate - any less and you'll receive just 0.5% interest.

1.01,500
Need-to-knows
  • This ISA is not flexible so any money you take out and replace will count towards your ISA allowance. For more on flexible ISAs see our need-to-know.

  • You must have at least £500 in your account to get the 1.01% rate - any less and you'll receive just 0.5% interest.

  • You can make unlimited deposits, provided you stay within the £20,000 ISA limit.

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

  • Sainsbury's Bank has the full £85,000 UK savings safety guarantee. See more information about the Savings Safety rules.

SUMMARY:

Rate: 1.01% AER variable | Min deposit: £500 | Access: Online/phone | Interest paid: Annually | Allows previous ISA transfers: Yes | Flexible: No

Post Office logo

Also pays 1.01%, but the rate includes a bonus

Post Office 1.01% AER

The Post Office Online ISA also pays 1.01%, though the rate includes a 0.76% bonus for 12 months. In this low interest environment, the bonus acts as a minimum rate guarantee though after 12 months the rate will plummet – diarise to switch then if it can be beaten.

This account allows unlimited withdrawals over £10 so it's good option if you need the flexibility to access your cash.

1.01,100
Need-to-knows
  • This ISA is not flexible so anything you put in will reduce your annual ISA allowance regardless of what you take out. For more on flexible ISAs see our need-to-know.

  • You can make unlimited deposits, provided you stay within the £20,000 ISA limit.

  • You can make unlimited penalty-free withdrawals of £10 or more from the account.
  • The rate includes a fixed 0.76% bonus for 12 months.

  • The Post Office shares its £85,000 UK savings safety guarantee with Bank of Ireland UK and AA Savings.
SUMMARY:

Rate: 1.01% AER variable (incl 0.76% bonus for 12 mths) | Min deposit: £100 | Access: Online only | Interest paid: Annually | Allows previous ISA transfers: Yes | Flexible: No

Best buys Linked accounts

Some banks reserve top rates for their own customers. So, these aren't open to all. However, if you find an ISA deal that's really, really good, they're often open to switchers. See Best Bank Accounts to find how these banks' accounts rate.

There currently aren't any top-rate linked account ISAs that beat the best buys above. But we'll update here as soon as there are.

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 allowing access

If you're willing to lock your cash away, 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. But remember...

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.

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.

The fixed rate accounts below mostly have a hefty penalty if you withdraw/close the account early. So only look at these options if you definitely want to fix for the entire term of the account.

The best one-year fixed rate ISAs

Product Rate(AER) Min Deposit How to Open Interest paid Withdrawal penalty FSCS Protection
Bank of Cyprus UKBank of Cyprus UK 1.22% £500 Online Annually 180 days' interest Full
Charter Savings BankCharter Savings 1.21% £1,000 Online Annually or monthly 150 days' interest Full

The best two-year fixed rate ISAs

Product Rate(AER) Min Deposit How to Open Interest paid Withdrawal penalty FSCS Protection
Charter Savings BankVirgin Money 1.37% £1,000 Online Annually or monthly 180 days' interest Full
United Bank UKUnited Bank UK 1.36% £2,000 Post/ branch Annually, monthly, quarterly or at maturity 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
Charter Savings BankPrincipality BS 1.45% £1,000 Online Annually or monthly 210 days' interest Full
United Bank UKUnited Bank UK 1.44% £2,000 Post/ branch Annually, monthly, quarterly or at maturity 270 days' interest Full

The best four-year fixed rates

Product Rate(AER) Min deposit How to open Interest paid Withdrawal penalty FSCS protection
United Trust BankUnited Trust Bank 1.55% £5,000 Post Annually Amount withdrawn x days drawn early x 1.55 / 36500 Full
The United Trust Bank account only accepts transfers in, not new ISA cash.
Leeds BSLeeds BS logo 1.45% £100 Online/ post/ branch Annually 300 days' interest Full

The best five-year fixed rates

Product Rate(AER) Min deposit How to open Interest paid Withdrawal penalty FSCS protection
Paragon BankUnited Trust Bank 1.95% £500 Online Annually or monthly 365 days' interest Full
United Bank UKUnited Bank UK 1.93% £2,000 Post/ branch Annually, monthly, quarterly or at maturity 365 days' interest Full

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

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, you can use Resolver to 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, innovative finance 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?

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