ISA stands for individual savings account. With a cash ISA you earn interest on your savings, but you don't have to pay any tax on the interest you receive.

Each person has an annual tax-free ISA allowance of 20,000 (tax year 2019-20). That means you can't put in any more than 20,000 into your cash ISA each year. You get a new allowance every tax year.

We're here to help you find the best cash ISA for your needs. Compare cash ISA deals to find the best cash ISA interest rates available.

How do cash ISAs work?

You can only open and pay into one cash ISA each year. But your 20,000 tax-free ISA allowance can be split across different types of ISA. For example, you could have a cash ISA, a stocks and shares ISA and/or an innovative finance ISA.
Because you can open one cash ISA each new tax year, over time, you might end up with several cash ISAs. But, remember, this doesn't increase your tax-free cash ISA limit. You can still only pay into one cash ISA each year.

Can I transfer money from one cash ISA to another?

You can usually transfer funds into your cash ISA from a previous year's ISA account. As long as it's a transfer, it doesn't count as having more than one. Not all cash ISAs let you do this, so double check whether yours does.

If you transfer all your funds into one account, you'll only have one cash ISA to manage. But accounts that allow transfers might not give you the best cash ISA rates. You can search for the best cash ISA transfer accounts using our comparison table.

To do a transfer, ask your new ISA provider for an electronic transfer form. You shouldn't just withdraw the cash because your money could instantly lose its tax-free benefits.

There are a few ISA accounts that let you withdraw and replace money during a tax year, without losing that amount from your allowance. Check carefully whether yours has this feature before you withdraw cash.

What are the pros and cons of cash ISA accounts?

Pros:

  • Cash ISAs are tax free, so you get to keep all the interest you earn

  • You have access to your money if you need to make a withdrawal for any reason

  • Your money's protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), up to 85,000.

Cons:
The main downside is that cash ISA rates of interest aren't usually very high. That's why it's important to find the best cash ISA rates you can.

What do I need to think about when I do a cash ISA comparison?

You'll need to do a cash ISA comparison to decide which is the best cash ISA for your needs. Choosing a provider is a crucial element of this decision.

Ask yourself these questions to work out what's important to you in a provider:

  • Do I want the provider to have a high street premises?

  • Do I want a cash incentive to open my ISA?

  • Do I want a provider I already know and trust?

  • Do I want to be able to manage my ISA using a mobile app?

  • Do I want a provider who'll advise me on other savings products?

To find the top cash ISA, you'll also need to think about:

  • The cash ISA interest rates on offer

  • How much you need to put in when you open your account

  • The term

  • Whether you're allowed to do transfers

  • What kind of cash ISA you want as there are lots of different types.

Types of cash ISA

Before you do a cash ISA comparison to find the best cash ISA rate for you, you'll need to decide what type of account you're looking for.

There are lots of types to choose from, including:

  • Instant cash ISA: You can withdraw and put in money whenever you like.

  • Easy access cash ISA: You can withdraw funds at any time, but it can take a few days to get your money.

  • Notice cash ISA: You have to give notice to withdraw money. If you don't, you'll be penalised. This notice could be up to 60 days.

  • Regular saver cash ISA: You commit to saving money every month in exchange for a higher interest rate.

  • Fixed-rate cash ISA: The best fixed rate cash ISA gives you a good interest rate in exchange for you keeping your money there for a specific length of time. This could be around one to five years.

  • Junior cash ISA: You can open one on behalf of your child. It has its own ISA allowance (4,368), and can't be touched until your child turns 18 years old.

  • Lifetime ISA: You can put in up to 4,000 a year, and the Government adds another 25% of what you've put in. You can take the money out when you buy your first home or turn 60.

What other kinds of ISA are there?

Other kinds of cash ISAs give you tax benefits on capital gains made from financial investments.

These include:

Stocks and shares ISA": A tax-efficient way of investing your money. It lets you put your ISA allowance of 20,000 into a range of different investments. You could earn more money doing this than with a cash ISA but it's risky as the stock market is unpredictable. Be aware that you could lose money.
Innovative finance ISA: Avoid paying tax on capital gains from crowdfunding or peer-to-peer investment. They're not covered by the FSCS.

Cash ISA limit

Everyone has a cash ISA allowance of 20,000 per tax year. This means you can pay up to 20,000 into your cash ISA each year. Any interest you receive will be tax free.

Whether you're a basic rate taxpayer, a higher rate tax payer or an additional rate taxpayer, your cash ISA limit is the same.

Your cash ISA allowance renews on the first day of each new tax year. The tax year runs from 6th April one year to 5th April the following year. If you don't use all of your cash ISA limit before the end of the tax year, it disappears. This means you can't carry over your unused cash ISA allowance from one year to the next.

ISA age limit

If your child is under 16, they can't open an adult ISA and you can't open one for them. You'd have to open a junior cash ISA for them instead.
They can't open an adult stocks and shares ISA or lifetime ISA until even later, when they turn 18.

How to run a cash ISA comparison

You can compare ISA rates to find the best cash ISAs. To do a cash ISA comparison, you just need to follow a few simple steps.

  1. Look at the cash ISA comparison table at the top of this page. It tells you about the term of the account and the top ISA rates. It also covers how much you need to put into the bank account when you open it and whether money transfers are accepted.

  2. Use the 'refine results' button to make your search more specific. For example, if you know you want an easy access cash ISA you can specify this and then find the best easy access cash ISA available.

  3. Use the 'sort results' button to order your results. For example, if you're looking for the best ISA interest rates, you can choose to see the highest interest rates at the top of the table.

  4. Hover over each option to see if you meet the criteria for that particular ISA account.

  5. When you've done your cash ISA comparison, click 'see deal' on the right-hand side. You'll be able to find out more and apply for your account.

What's the best rate cash ISA?

The best rate cash ISA is the one that pays you the highest interest on your balance.

How to open an ISA account

Opening an ISA is simple. Just follow these simple steps.

  1. Use the comparison table at the top of this page to find the best ISA accounts for your needs. Decide which you'd like to open.

  2. Depending on which you choose, you might need to open your ISA in a bank, online, by post or over the phone.

  3. To open it, you'll need to put some money in the account. This could be 1-1,000, depending on the ISA account you've chosen.

  4. You'll need to share your personal details. This includes your name, address, National Insurance number and dated signature.

  5. Read the ISA declaration carefully. This gives you important information about the ISA allowance and rules. For example, it might explain any penalties you'd need to pay if you withdraw money before the end of your fixed term.

Are cash ISAs safe?

When you've opened your ISA, you can start saving your money knowing it's safe. Most banks are backed by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). This scheme protects your money up to 85,000.

ISA alternatives

There are lots of alternatives to opening an ISA. These include:
Personal savings allowance: Everyone is allowed to earn a certain amount of interest without paying tax. A basic rate taxpayer can earn up to 1,000 in interest. This drops to 500 for higher rate taxpayers (2019/20 tax year). Remember that your cash ISA allowance is separate to your personal savings allowance.
Interest-paying current accounts: Top-paying current accounts pay as much as 5% on your money. The amount you can save is usually capped a lot lower than with an ISA. The cap tends to be 1,000-3,000.
Premium bonds: These let you save money with the chance of winning cash prizes from monthly draws. For every 1 you put in, you get a unique number which is entered into the draw. If one of your numbers is chosen, you win a tax-free prize ranging from 25 to 1 million.

Cash ISA FAQs

Q

Can I take money out of an cash ISA and put it back in again?

A

Some ISAs let you withdraw money and replace in during the same tax year without using up any more of your ISA allowance, find out more here.

Q

Can I take my money out of my ISA whenever I want?

A

Only if the ISA allows withdrawals but there are restrictions on paying money back in, find out more here.

Q

Can I have an ISA if I have bad credit?

A

Yes, your finances are not checked when you open a savings account. If you need help choosing the right savings account, read this guide.

Q

Do I have to tie my money up to save?

A

No, you can choose how much access you have to your money by picking the right savings account. This guide explains which accounts are available.

About our cash ISAs comparison

Q

Who do we include in this comparison?

A

We include cash ISAs listed in our panel. They are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Here is more information about how our website works.

Q

How do we make money from our comparison?

A

We have commercial agreements with some of the companies in this comparison and get paid commission if we help you take out one of their products or services. Find out more here.

You do not pay any extra and the deal you get is not affected.