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Oct 2013

Four ways to make the most of your cash ISA

If you have a cash ISA, you're already one step ahead of many people in the UK. However, it's always a good idea to review your accounts regularly to make sure you're earning as much interest as possible, and that you don't lose out on the latest cash ISA offers. Here we look at four situations when you should take a look at your current cash ISA to make sure it's still right for you:

1) Keep an eye on bonus rates

Many cash ISA providers offer attractive bonus rates for new customers, which are usually fixed for a limited period. When this bonus rate ends, however, the interest rate on offer may be lower than you could get with other savings accounts. So, if you choose a cash ISA that pays a high rate of interest, make a note of when the bonus rate finishes.

To make sure you get a good deal, check how long the introductory interest rate will last for and if there are any restrictions on you moving your money after the introductory rate ends. Some banks and building societies may levy a charge if you move your money - which means you may lose some of the interest you've earned - so make sure you take this into account. Also, make sure you follow the correct ISA transfer protocol in order to retain your tax-efficient status - click here to find out more about ISA transfers.

2) Watch out for changes in the Bank of England base rate

The Bank of England base rate is the main interest rate as set by the Bank of England, and is currently at a record low of 0.5%. If and when this changes, however, it's well worth reviewing your cash ISA as a change in the base rate can affect the value of your savings.

If your interest is paid at a variable rate it can move up and down. This means that if the bank rate increases, you might get more money, but if the bank rate goes down, your rate of interest might go down too. If you have a fixed rate cash ISA and the bank rate increases, it might be worth checking to see if another account is offering a better rate.

3) Check the small print before making withdrawals or transfers

If you want to make a withdrawal from your cash ISA, check the small print carefully to see if there are penalties for taking your money out. Fixed rate ISAs may not allow any withdrawals during the term, which is something to bear in mind when choosing a cash ISA if you think you might need access to your money quickly.

4) When your circumstances change

Think carefully about how soon you are likely to need access to your money when choosing a cash ISA. This can vary depending on your life stage and priorities. For example, if you're saving for retirement in a few years' time, a fixed rate ISA may make sense, but as you approach your retirement date you're likely to want more immediate access to your money. In this situation, it could make sense to move your savings to an easy access or instant access ISA instead.

It makes sense to regularly review your cash ISA to make sure it's still in line with your long-term and short-term financial goals. Compare a range of cash ISA options here.

Tax treatment depends on individual circumstances and is subject to change in the future.

No news, feature article or comment should be seen as a personal recommendation to invest. Prior to making any decision to invest, you should ensure that you are familiar with the risks associated with a particular investment. If you are at all unsure of the suitability of a particular investment, both in respect of its objectives and its risk profile, you should seek independent financial advice. Tax treatment depends on your individual circumstances and may be subject to change in the future.

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