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14th
Oct 2020
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Our How-To Guide on ISAs for Beginners

Our How-To Guide on ISAs for Beginners

So you've heard opening an ISA is a good idea, but you've no idea where to begin. You don't know your LISAs from your JISAs, and the plethora of choice available on the market is fairly overwhelming. Luckily for you, we've broken down everything you need to know about ISAs and all the different kinds of ISAs on offer - so you can make an informed choice that is right for you. 

So…what exactly is an ISA?

An ISA is a tax-efficient way for you to make your money work; by putting your money into an ISA tax-free wrapper, you will enjoy returns which are safe from the tax man.

For this tax year, you are able to put in a maximum of £20,000 into an ISA.

Different types of ISAs include:

Within these categories, there are also sub-categories such as Ethical ISAs, Fund Supermarkets and High Income ISAs. For more information on these, read our recent series of blogs.

What's an Instant Access Cash ISA?

An Instant Access Cash ISA is a savings account where the interest you gain is protected from the tax man. You can

This will suit you if...

  • You want to take last-minute advantage of your ISA allowance, but are wary of more high risk accounts
  • You know you'll need access to your funds

What's a Fixed Term ISA?

A fixed term Cash ISA is like an instant access Cash ISA, but your money will be locked away for a set period of time. This can be 1,2,3,5, or 7 years - and different providers will offer different time periods and rates.

This will suit you if...

  • You know you won't need to access your cash for a set amount of time
  • You want slightly higher rates than an Instant Access Cash ISA, but don't want the associated risks of a Stocks and Shares ISA.

What's a Stocks and Shares ISA?

With a Stocks and Shares ISA, your money is invested in - you guessed it - “Stocks” and “shares”. These are are generally interchangeable terms, though they have slightly different meanings:

  • “shares” can refer to owning part of one particular company (“I own shares in Unilever”)
  • “stocks” can refer to shares in a number of different companies (“I own stocks in the renewable energy industry”)

With this ISA you will gain returns on your investment which will be tax free.

This will suit you if...

  • You are already an investor or want to be an investor - and you want your returns protected from the tax man
  • You want the higher returns rate offered by Investment ISAs
  • You want to put your money into specific investments, like Ethical Investment ISAs or Climate Change funds.

What's a Junior Isa?

A Junior ISA, or JISA, is an ISA account which is set up on behalf of a child by a parent or guardian. Family, friends and parents can then put money into that ISA. For this year, the limit you can put into a JISA account is a very generous £9000 for this tax year. 

This will suit you if...

  • You are a parent or guardian of a child and you want to put aside money for their financial future.

What's a Lifetime ISA?

A Lifetime ISA is an ISA with a very specific purpose - long term saving. You can but in up to £4000 per tax year (this is the allowance for 2020/2021). The government will then give you a 'bonus' of 25% of what you have put into this account: which means you can get a boost of up to £1000 each year. This money can only be used to help you buy your first home or as long-term retirement savings.

This will suit you if....

  • You are looking to buy your first home
  • You are saving for retirement

What's a Peer to Peer ISA?

A Peer to Peer ISA, otherwise known as Innovative ISAs, allow savers to lend their money to other borrowers directly - bypassing the middle-man and thus, benefiting from a better interest return.

This will suit you if...

  • You've invested before, and are familiar with the process
  • You're comfortable with the associated risks

Read more about our Cash ISA rates & Investment ISA rates. 

Investment Fund Supermarket ISAs

Stocks & Shares ISA

from Fidelity

ISA Option
Allows ISA Transfers
Regular Savings
  • Protection Scheme: FSCS
  • Fund Choice: Choose from over 4,000 investment options, including one of the widest fund ranges in the UK, plus shares, investment trusts and exchange-traded funds. There’s also expert guidance to help with your investment decisions, which includes a selection of tools and insights from Fidelity’s experts. Capital at risk. Tax and ISA rules apply.
  • Invest From: £25 through regular savings or £1,000 lump sum

Why we like it: Fidelity has lots of investment options, plus an extensive range of guidance tools to help you decide what to invest in. Their award-winning ISA is easy to start and offers great value, their a typical service fee of just 0.35%. Other ongoing charges apply. On top of that, everything is backed by Fidelity’s 50 years of investment experience.

Important: The value of investments can go down as well as up so you may get back less than you invest. This information is not a personal recommendation for any particular investment. If you are unsure about the suitability of an investment you should speak to an authorised financial adviser.

Tax treatment depends on individual circumstances and all tax rules may change in the future.

Model Portfolio ISA

from Interactive Investor

ISA Option
Allows ISA Transfers
Regular Savings
  • Protection Scheme: FSCS
  • Fund Choice: Need help choosing the right investments? ii's experts have carefully selected investments to point you in the right direction.
  • Invest From: £25 a month or any lump sum

Why we like it: Designed to make it easier for investors, these four portfolios offer either growth or income options, with a choice of actively managed investments or low-cost tracker funds including an ethical growth portfolio. Low cost fees and trading.

Important: The value of your investments can rise as well as fall. You may get back less than you invested. If you’re unsure, we recommend you ask for independent advice.

Model Portfolio ISA

from Hargreaves Lansdown

Allows ISA Transfers
  • Protection Scheme: FSCS
  • Fund Choice: You can invest for income or growth and select from three pre-determined risk levels.
  • Invest From: £25 pm

Why we like it: Choose from one of 6 ready made portfolios based on your attitude to risk. Portfolios rebalanced twice a year. No charge to buy and sell funds. Low, tiered annual charges for holding funds, with a maximum of just 0.45% per annum. Free fund updates and analysis from experienced research team. Invest with a financially secure, FTSE 100 company.

Important: The value of your investments can rise as well as fall. You may get back less than you invested. If you’re unsure, we recommend you ask for independent advice.

Model Portfolio ISA

from Moneyfarm

Allows ISA Transfers
  • Protection Scheme: FSCS
  • Fund Choice: Choose your risk profile and have it matched to an investment portfolio expertly built and managed using exchange traded funds (ETFs)
  • Invest From: £1,500

Why we like it: Answer questions about your goals, financial situation and attitude to risk, and Moneyfarm will recommend the right ISA portfolio for you, built and managed by experts to help your money grow. You’ll always be invested in a portfolio that’s suitable for you, and you can manage this through the Advice Centre. See what you’re invested in, how you’re performing and how much you’re paying anywhere and any time with the Moneyfarm app. Add money to your ISA by setting up a direct debit, investing a lump-sum, or by transferring old ISAs for free

Lifetime ISAs

Lifetime ISA

from AJ Bell

ISA Option
Allows ISA Transfers
Regular Savings
  • Protection Scheme: FSCS
  • Fund Choice: Over 2,000 Funds, Shares and ETF's
  • Invest From: £25 per month
  • Trade From (frequent trader rate): £4.95
  • Trade From (standard trader rate): £9.95

Why we like it: Start from £25 per month and save up to £4,000 per year. Wide choice of stock market linked investments, or utilise online investment ideas. Can be retained in cash. Simple annual management fee of 0.25%. Deal from £1.50 and never pay more than £9.95 per online deal. AJ Bell are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and are covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. Capital at risk. AJ Bell Youinvest doesn’t offer advice.

  • Select your own investments, access fund options, or choose investment ideas where specialists do the hard work for you
  • Access your account online 24/7 and deal on the go with the mobile app
  • UK-based customer services team, webchat and email support
  • Open with lump sum, regular contributions or transfers from existing ISA's
  • Contribute up to £4,000 per year until you’re 50
  • Get a 25% government bonus: For every £4 you pay in you receive a £1 bonus
  • Use your savings to buy your first home up to a value of £450,000, or use as retirement income from aged 60
  • You can contribute to both a stocks and shares Lifetime ISA and a ‘regular’ stocks and shares ISA in the same tax year
  • Must be UK resident aged 18-39 to open
  • If you need to access your money for any other reason, you’ll pay a 20% penalty (25% from 6 April 2021)
  • Annual account charge of 0.25%
  • Dealing and other charges will depend on the investments you choose and will apply in addition to an annual account charge
  • Tax rules can change and their benefits depend on your circumstances. Lifetime ISA allowance forms part of the overall £20,000 annual ISA allowance
  • Tax and Lifetime ISA rules apply
  • If you choose to save in a LISA instead of enrolling in, or contributing to, your workplace pension you will miss out on the benefit of your employer’s contributions to that scheme and your current and future entitlement to means tested benefits may be affected
Junior ISAs

Junior Stocks & Shares ISA

from Nutmeg

  • Investment Options: Invest in one of four expertly designed portfolios depending on your investment style

Why we like it: Open with a lump sum from £100 to £9,000 in the 2021/22 tax year. After initial investment top up any time with no minimum. Simple, transparent - Invest in one of a range of four expertly designed portfolios depending on your investment style. All four Nutmeg investment styles are built by experts and use exchange traded funds to diversify across stocks, bonds, industries, even countries. Choose the one that works for you. No exit fees and you’re free to make adjustments. You can see where your Junior ISA is invested and how it’s performing. Withdrawals possible from age 18. You can also transfer an existing Junior ISA or Child Trust Fund. If you need any help, financial advisers and customer support will answer any questions you have

Important: The value of your investments can rise as well as fall. You may get back less than you invested. If you’re unsure, we recommend you ask for independent advice.

Important Risk Information:

The value of investments can go down in value as well as up, so you could get back less than you invest. It is therefore important that you understand the risks and commitments. This website aims to provide information to help you make your own informed decisions. It does not provide personal advice based on your circumstances. If you are unsure of how suitable an investment is for you, please seek personal advice.

High Income ISAs

High income ISA ideas:

ISAs Products

Cash ISAs

Fixed Rate & Instant Access ISAs:

Cash ISAs: 

Stocks & Shares ISAs

Types of Stocks and Shares ISA include: 

Stocks and Shares ISAs

Latest News

5 Considerations for Your Next Investment ISA

15th March 2021

You've decided to invest your savings into a Stocks and Shares ISA. You'll be using your tax-free ISA allowance for this year before the deadline, while also investing your money for your future. But what do you need to consider before opening an account? We've put together a list of our top five considerations for you to think about before you click "apply". 

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