ISA season: top deals don't lock out existing savers
In previous years, the top ISA rates on instant access and notice ISAs have generally been reserved for new money. Great news if you're just getting started with tax-free saving, but not much use for those who already have a pile of money saved in an ISA.
Thankfully, that's not the case this year, with some of the best deals open to transferring in existing ISA money.
Top easy access ISAs
Let's start by taking a look at the top variable Cash ISAs which offer easy access to your cash.
|Account||AER||Minimum deposit||Accepts transfers?|
|National Savings & Investments Direct ISA||1.50%||£1||No|
|Nationwide Flexclusive ISA*||1.50%||£1||No|
|Post Office Online ISA||1.50% (includes 0.85% bonus for 12 months)||£100||Yes|
|Coventry BS Easy Access ISA||1.40%||£1||No|
|HSBC Loyalty Cash ISA*||1.40%||£1||Yes|
|Market Harborough BS Instant Access ISA||1.40%||£10||No|
|GE Capital Direct||1.40%||£500||Yes|
*Must hold current account
As you can see, three of the seven ISAs above allow you to move in cash that you've already saved in previous ISAs. You can at least match the top deals that exclude transfers, though in the case of the Post Office ISA you should keep the fact that it offers a bonus in mind as 12 months down the line you'll need to move your money.
Now let's take a look at those which require notice of up to 120 days.
|Account||Notice||AER||Minimum deposit||Accepts transfers?|
|Al Rayan Bank Notice Cash ISA||120 days||2.02%*||£250||Yes|
|Hinckley & Rugby Notice Cash ISA||120 days||1.60%||£500||No|
|Furness BS Cash ISA||90 days||1.60%||£1,000||Yes|
|Teachers BS Cash ISA||90 days||1.50%||£100||No|
|Dudley BS Cash ISA||30 days||1.50%||£100||Yes|
|Shawbrook Bank Notice Cash ISA||120 days||1.45%||£1,000||Yes|
|Kent Reliance BS Notice NISA||60 days||1.40%||£1,000||Yes|
*Anticipated profit rate
So the majority of top notice ISAs also accept transfers in. Again, excellent news for those with ISA pots already who don't want to commit to locking their cash up in a fixed rate ISA for a couple of years or more.
Beating Cash ISAs
With all that said, the rates on Cash ISAs – even the market-leading ones in the tables above – are less than inspiring.
So what can you do?
If you are determined to make the most of your full ISA allowance – currently £15,000 for this tax year – then one option is to invest it in a stocks & shares ISA. You can invest in all sorts of things depending on your ISA, from individual shares and funds to bonds and gilts. Remember though that it's an investment, so your money is not secure – you could end up with less than you put in.
Current accounts also offer a cracking return for smaller balances. Nationwide's FlexDirect pays 5% on balances up to £2,500 for a year, so long as you pay in £1,000 a month. And TSB's Classic Plus Account pays 5% on balances up to £2,000 (with no rate drop in 12 months) so long as you pay in £500 a month.
If you have a bigger pot, then Santander's 123 account pays 3% on balances between £3,000 and £20,000 and also offers the chances to earn cashback on certain direct debits. However there is a £2 monthly fee to consider.
Just remember that if you move cash from an ISA into a current account, it will lose its tax-free status.
Compare current accounts
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