An ISA (Individual Savings Account) is a special type of savings account where you don’t pay tax on the interest, no matter how much you earn.
ISAs were introduced in 1999 to encourage people to save. There is however a limit to how much you can save in one each tax year. For 2017/18 it is £20,000.
You can save up to this amount either entirely in cash, in stocks and shares or any combination of the two.
You can find everything you need to know about ISAs with our dedicated hub page.
How ISAs work
There’s never been a tougher time to get a decent return on your savings – and that makes using your tax-free ISA allowance more important than ever.
This tax year (which ends on April 5, 2018), you can stash up to £20,000 into an ISA and you won’t have to pay tax on the interest you earn.
If you don't use up your ISA allowance, you won’t be able to carry it over into the new tax year.
Don’t just settle for the ISA your bank offers you though as returns can vary. If you already have an ISA balance and are looking for a better deal, you will need an account that accepts transfers in.
If you have already used your ISA allowance, there could be much better places than an easy access savings account to put the remainder of your cash. Check out all your options here at our dedicated savings hub.
Remember too that all basic rate taxpayers can now earn £1,000 of savings interest a year without having to pay any tax on it thanks to the new Personal Savings Allowance (PSA). You’re a basic rate taxpayer in the 2017-18 tax year if your income is less than £45,000).
If you’re a higher rate taxpayer, paying tax at the 40% rate on an income between £45,001 and £150,000, you’re entitled to a lower PSA of £500 a year.
If you’re an additional taxpayer earning £150,001 or more, you won’t get an allowance at all.
You can put up to £20,000 in a cash ISA and shield your returns from tax.
Instant Access Cash ISAs
Simple accounts, quick access to your money
Save for your children's future
Save up to £4,128 a year with a tax-free junior ISA savings account.
Stocks and Shares ISAs
You can invest your full ISA allowance of £20,000 in a stocks and shares ISA. Stocks and shares ISAs come in two forms:
Stocks & Shares ISA Direct Providers
Direct ISA products usually track performance of stock markets, like the FTSE 100, or are a basket of investments managed by a provider. Either way, the idea is you don’t need to be actively monitoring things every single day. Remember the capital is not protected so there is still a risk that you may not get back as much as you have paid in.
Self-selected fund ISAs
These ISAs give you an empty 'tax wrapper' which you can fill with investments of your choosing. Great if you want to be in control of exactly which investments you make. These can be a higher risk investment and as with Pre-selected ISAs the capital is not protected so there is a higher risk you may not get back as much as you have paid in. These plans tend to be more suited to experienced investors who are willing to take greater risks.