What is an Instant Access Cash ISA?
Instant access cash ISAs allow you the freedom to withdraw your tax-efficient savings as and when you need to. If you're a UK taxpayer over 16 years old, you can save up to your maximum ISA allowance.
This type of ISA allows you to pay in and withdraw money at any time throughout the financial year, which runs until 5th April each year. Many providers will allow you to pay in and withdraw any amount you wish, and these instant access cash ISAs can be opened with as little as £1. Other instant access ISA providers have more stringent conditions - for example, they may require a minimum deposit to open an account, or operate a yearly withdrawal limit. One thing to remember when choosing an ISA is that instant access cash ISAs often have comparatively low rates of interest compared to other types of ISA. This is the price you pay for the freedom of a having a fully flexible ISA.
It is important to remember that if you make a withdrawal from a cash ISA, any money you take out will still count towards that year's cash ISA allowance. You can't replace any of the money you withdraw, so think carefully before doing so.
For instant access Cash ISAs providers will generally allow you to:
- Access money instantly without withdrawal penalties with the option of being able to take money out whenever you want
- Flexibility on how you save whether through a lump sum, by standing order or whenever you want
- Deposit the full cash ISA allowance
- Deposit from £1 although minimum deposit levels will vary from ISA provider to ISA provider
- Transfer in other ISAs bringing all your cash ISAs together in one place
- Access the account through a range of methods e.g. Either online, mobile, in branch or by telephone or a combination of both
Things to look out for when choosing an instant access ISA account
There is a wide range of instant access or easy access ISA account deals to choose from, so we have highlighted some of the features to look out for:
- Age - You must be 16 or older
- Residency - You must be UK resident for tax purposes and have a UK national insurance number
- When applying - To qualify for a cash ISA you can’t have taken out another cash ISA or used your full annual ISA allowance in a stocks and shares ISA and/or an innovative finance ISA during the current tax year
- Interest rates - the interest rates paid on instant access ISAs tend to be comparatively low compared to fixed-rate ISAs or other types of savings accounts, such as notice accounts. The trade-off is that you get easy, fast access to your cash whenever you need it - so shop around to find the instant access ISA with the best current rates, and be prepared to switch providers if rates change.
- Additional benefits - some instant access ISA providers offer incentives to those opening a new account. This may mean that you'll be offered an increased rate of interest for a fixed duration - usually around one year - or a bonus if you transfer your old cash ISA balance to the new provider. Savers should bear in mind that the ongoing interest rate may not be competitive, so get ready to switch to a different ISA provider once any incentives or bonuses have been paid.
- Interest calculation method - some instant access cash ISA providers pay interest on a monthly basis, while others do so on a quarterly or annual basis. Make sure you know which calculation method will be used before signing up for an instant access ISA.
- Withdrawal restrictions - some instant access ISA accounts have withdrawal restrictions, so ensure you understand the details of the account before you sign up.
How do I transfer my instant access ISA?
If you are thinking of moving to a new instant access cash ISA provider the process is generally as follows:
- Once you have completed the new ISA provider's transfer application form they will write to your existing provider.
- You can transfer your ISA between providers without affecting your current ISA allowance. Be careful you don’t close your existing ISA to open a new one as you will lose your current ISA allowance – you should transfer so you don’t lose out on your tax-free allowance.
- A transfer should take no more than 5 days in line with the British Bankers Association guidelines.