How to transfer your cash ISA to maximise returns |
MONEYFACTS ARCHIVE. This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

Published: 27/03/2017

The end of the tax year is approaching, and with it comes thoughts of what to do with your 2016/17 ISA allowance. The deadline to make the most of this year's £15,240 limit is looming, so don't miss out! If you've yet to invest, now's the time to do so – and if you've already got a cash ISA for the year, you may want to transfer it to get the best return possible.

Transfer rules quick guide

Transferring your cash ISA to a better deal could be one of the best ways to boost your returns, particularly if you switch to one offering the best ISA rate. Remember that you're only allowed one active cash ISA each year, but that doesn't mean you can't decide to use a different one – as long as you make sure to follow the transfer rules, you can retain your tax-efficiency and keep your pot out of the taxman's reach.

Here's a quick overview on how to transfer your cash ISA. If you want extra detail, you can find out more here.

  1. Start the process by comparing cash ISA rates, but make sure to check that your potential new account accepts transfers in, as not all do. In the same vein, check that your current ISA doesn't penalise you for transferring out of it – fixed rate ISAs and notice versions will often charge interest penalties for doing so, but if you've got a variable rate ISA, you should be ok.

  2. Open the new ISA, but DO NOT withdraw money from the old account! We really can't stress this enough – taking money out of a cash ISA will mean it's instantly lost its tax-efficiency, and you'll only be able to invest this year's ISA allowance in a new account, if you haven't already used it. This is particularly important to bear in mind if you've been building up a pot over several years, as you may have a hefty amount saved that would be liable to tax again if you took it out. Instead, you'll want to…

  3. Complete a cash ISA transfer form with your new provider. That's it! You don't need to do anything else, as your old and new ISA provider will arrange for the funds to be transferred between them. You never see the money, but you can be confident that you've retained your tax-efficiency.

It's as simple as that! It's a quick and simple process that should be completed within 15 working days, and because you're transferring ISAs rather than adding to a new account, you needn't worry so much about the tax year deadline.

Make the most of ISA season

That's not to say you should wait too long, however. We're in the midst of ISA season (which typically takes place every March and April) which is supposedly when the best cash ISA deals are available, and happily, this year seems to be holding up well – average fixed ISA rates have been edging up recently, which means now could be a great time to take a look at the deals available. Remember that fixed rate ISAs provide guaranteed returns, too, so if you fix at a top rate, you won't lose that for the duration of your chosen term.

So don't delay! Compare cash ISAs using our Best Buy tables or whole of market savings search tool, and see if you can find a better home for your ISA savings.

What next?

Find out more by reading our ISA transfer guide

If you really want to get the best returns possible, it may be worth considering stocks & shares ISAs instead. These accounts vastly outperform cash but they come with their own set of risks, so should only be considered by investors comfortable with that (these accounts will have different ISA transfer rules, too; speak to your provider for details).


Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.

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