How do ISA transfers work?

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If you move your ISA to another provider incorrectly you could end up losing your savings' tax free status. Here is how to transfer your ISA and continue building up your tax free savings.
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What is an ISA transfer?

It is when you move your ISA to another provider without losing your tax free status.

Money in an ISA needs to be transferred in a specific way, rather than withdrawn as cash, otherwise it will lose its tax-free status.

You can transfer your ISA from previous tax years, or move your total balance across:

For example, if you have an ISA worth £10,000 and had paid in £3,000 during previous tax years, you can choose to transfer just that amount or the full £10,000.

How do ISA transfers work?

Watch out, not all ISAs will accept transfers so check before you apply.

Transferring your cash ISA

If you have one or more cash ISAs that you want to transfer, you can:

  • Transfer to a new cash ISA

  • Transfer to an existing ISA you hold elsewhere

  • Transfer to an existing ISA with the same provider (this is called an ISA consolidation)

  • Transfer to a new or existing stocks and shares ISA

If you want to transfer any money you have paid into your ISA during this tax year, you will have to transfer the whole amount.

Transferring to a stocks and shares ISA is usually free, however there may be fees and charges for managing your stocks and shares ISA. Here is more information on stocks and shares ISAs.

Make the most of your tax-free ISA.

Transferring your stocks and shares ISA

If you have one or more stocks and shares ISAs, you can:

  • Transfer to a new stocks and shares ISA

  • Transfer to an existing stocks and shares ISA

  • Transfer to a new or existing cash ISA

You will usually have to pay a transfer out fee which could cost up to 3% of your stocks and shares ISA balance.

Look out for transaction charges which may apply when you transfer your stocks and shares ISA to a cash ISA. This charge covers the cost of selling the assets your stocks and shares ISA has invested in.

Transferring a Junior ISA

You cannot transfer a Junior ISA into an adult cash ISA or stocks and shares ISA.

You can only transfer to another Junior ISA or stocks and shares Junior ISA.

The registered holder of the Junior ISA will be responsible for signing the transfer on behalf of the child. However, if you are aged between 16 to 18 years old and the Junior ISA is in your name you will be responsible for signing for the transfer.

Can you transfer any ISA?

Yes, but you may be penalised if your ISA is a notice or a fixed term account.

For example, if you have a 60 day notice ISA you can give 60 days' notice and transfer your ISA without any penalty.

If you choose to transfer your ISA without giving the notice you will be penalised by your old cash ISA provider before your money is transferred.

To do this:

  • Get a closure figure from your existing ISA provider to see how the penalty will affect your savings balance, then work out how much more interest you will gain from transferring your ISA.

  • Only make the transfer if the new ISA will earn you more interest compared to your existing ISA in addition to the penalty.

Can you pay in more money when you transfer your ISA?

All ISA transfers let you add more money as part of the application process, as long as you do not exceed your ISA allowance for the current tax year.

How long does a transfer take?

This depends on whether you are transferring your cash ISA or your stocks and shares ISA.

Your transfer should be completed within these timescales:

  • Cash ISA: 15 working days

  • Stocks and shares ISA: 30 working days

If it takes longer, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Some providers will backdate your interest to the day you started your ISA transfer application.

For example, if you started your transfer on the 2nd of the month and it was completed on the 15th, you will have made interest on your ISA from the 2nd.

Ask the provider if they do this before you apply, otherwise you will lose out on the daily interest during the time it takes to complete the transfer.

Why should you transfer your ISA?

  • To get a better rate: If you can get a higher interest rate with another provider, then transferring your ISA will make you more money.

  • To stay within the FSCS limit: If you are worried your total savings will exceed the £85,000 limit then think about transferring your ISA to another provider.

  • To keep all of your ISAs together: You may prefer to keep all your ISAs with one provider so they are easier to manage, and some accounts offer a higher interest rate if you have a larger balance.

How to find a new ISA

When comparing ISAs make sure you check:

  • The interest rate: the higher the better.

  • How accessible your money will be: do you need to withdraw regularly or can you leave your money for a few years?

  • If it accepts ISA transfers: if not, you cannot move another ISA into it.

  • How much it will accept as a transfer in: make sure a new ISA will take all of your existing ISA money if you want to move it all across.

Find out everything you need to know about ISAs here

Apply to transfer your ISA

After choosing a new ISA you need to complete an ISA transfer in form with your new provider, in a branch or online.

The information you will need to give on your ISA transfer form includes your:

  • Name

  • Address

  • Date of birth

  • National Insurance Number

  • Existing ISA account number

  • Existing ISA provider's name

  • Existing ISA provider's address

  • How much you want to transfer

This form will also ask if you would like to add new money into the ISA as part of the transfer.

You can only pay in money up to your ISA allowance, and only if you have moved across any money you had already paid into an ISA within the same tax year.

Your new ISA provider will send a request to your current ISA provider to send your ISA across while maintaining its tax free status.

What happens next?

Once you have completed the transfer form, you do not need to do anything else.

If you have chosen to transfer your entire ISA across, then your new provider will also ask for your existing ISA to be closed and any interest sent across as part of the transfer.

Once the transfer is complete, you will get a closure statement in the post showing the total balance transferred.

Maximise the value of your savings by hunting down the best rates available.

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