Investment ISA vs. Pension: Which Should I Get?
When saving for retirement, you’ll want to make sure you are getting the best possible benefit out of where you are putting your money away. So, which is better: an Investment ISA, or a pension?
Both Investment ISAs and pensions are form of long-term savings which can be held in a tax-free wrapper. Both can be used to save for the retirement stage in life, setting you up to enjoy the hard-earned fruits of your years in the workforce.
What’s the difference?
Investment ISAs and pensions are both forms of long-term savings with great tax benefits, but it is important to understand the difference between the two.
An Investment ISA is… also known as a stocks and shares ISA, which allows you to invest money up to a certain amount without paying tax. You can choose to invest your money in various different funds depending on the platform you have chosen. With excellent tax benefits, this is a very popular form of long-term saving. Read more about Investment ISAs here.
A Pension is…a pot of money which you contribute to long-term, throughout your working life, which can then be used at the point of retirement. A pension is designed to have very good tax benefits. Many people have a pension through their employment, however you are able to set up a self-invested personal pension (also known as a SIPP).
The Benefit Breakdown
Benefits of an Investment ISA
- Tax Benefits
The benefits of opening an investment ISA rather than just a standard savings account is that the returns you make on your investments will be kept in a tax-free wrapper, meaning that you will be able to keep the returns safe from the tax man.
Unlike a pension, an Investment ISA has a bit more flexibility. You cannot access your pension before you are 55, however you can access some Investment ISAs before then. In general terms, it’s good practice to ensure you have an Investment ISA bond for at least five years to allow for fluctuations in the market.
- You can also transfer your fund from an Investment ISA to another kind of ISA account if your needs change – or if you decide that you might need to be able to have access to your funds.
- Higher interest rates
Compared to other forms of ISA accounts, Stocks and Shares ISAs boast higher interest rates. This is because there is a higher level of risk associated – the stock market can go down as well as up, so it’s work making sure you are comfortable with this level of risk before opening one.
Benefits of a Pension
- Automatic Enrollment: with many jobs, your employer will automatically enroll you into a pension scheme.
- Employer contributions: Your employer will also contribute money to your pension pot, so your savings will be padded by this contribution also.
- With a standard pension, you won’t have the ability to choose your own investments, however with a SIPP (like a Stocks and Shares ISA) you have more freedom of choice regarding where your money is invested.
- If you are a higher-rate tax payer, then you will make more money from a pension than if you are a basic rate tax payer.
So, which should I choose?
It’s a false dichotomy: you can have both. Wise investors looking to make the most of their savings for their retirement should make good use of both of these tax wrappers.
Any profits or returns from these are not subject to capital gains tax, so these are an effective way of making sure that you can make the most of your investments.
With this money locked away long term, interest will accrue and build up over the course of the years you are paying into it, meaning by the time you retire and begin to use the money from these accounts they will have made a healthy amount of return.
If you are employed, you’ll likely have been automatically enrolled in a pension. With a workplace pension your employer also pays in a certain percent: this means that you are able to benefit from essentially free money.
A wise investor will have both - and for the seasoned investor, having more than one pension or ISA (e.g. a SIPP) is an excellent way to diversify your portfolio as well as ensuring multiple accounts which you can benefit from upon retirement.