ISAs (Individual Savings Accounts) were introduced as a way to encourage residents of the UK to save money and invest in their future. Here at MoneyMagpie, it is ISA Spotlight month. We are shining a light on ISAs and giving you all you need to know about them.
There are five main ISAs currently available on the market. Each have different benefits and disadvantages, allowances and rules. However, all five types of ISA have one overall advantage – they are all tax efficient. This means you do not pay tax on any capital gains, or any interest you earn. Result!
Are you a total ISA newbie? Perhaps you have a vague idea of the different types of ISA but want to learn more. You may even have an ISA, but you are not quite sure what it all means. Whatever your situation, here’s our ISA comparison guide to help you get familiar with the big five.
- Lifetime ISA (LISA)
- Stocks and Shares ISA
- Cash ISA
- Junior ISAs (JISA)
- Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA)
Perhaps one of the most widely spoken about ISAs is the Lifetime ISA, commonly referred to as the LISA. The LISA allows you to save to buy your first-home or for retirement. The best part is, you receive a 25% bonus from the Government on anything you put into your LISA, up to £1,000 per tax year.
So, if you put £4 into your LISA, you will receive a 25% top-up of £1 from the Government, bringing your total up to £5. The same goes if you put £4,000 annually into your LISA, you will receive a bonus of £1,000 from the Government, bringing your total to £5,000. That’s an extra grand for free! This bonus is paid into your LISA every calendar month.
You may have opened a Help To Buy ISA before November of 2019. If you did, you can continue paying into this and receive your benefits. If you missed out on the scheme before it ended and want some extra help saving for your first home, then a LISA may be the best way forward for you. Keep in mind, however, the home you want to buy must cost £450,000 or less if you want to use the money from your LISA.
Another benefit of the LISA is that you don’t have to pay any tax on income you receive, or any capital gains. You can also hold cash, investments, or a mixture of both. It’s entirely your choice. It’s no wonder the LISA is one of the most popular types of ISA on the market at the moment.
There are a few rules which come along with a LISA. You must be between the ages of 18 and 40 to open a LISA, however you can put money into your LISA until your 50th birthday. When it comes to buying a house with the funds in your LISA, you must be a first-time buyer, and you must have your LISA open for at least 12 months before you can use it towards a deposit for your first house.
If you don’t want to use your LISA to buy a house, you are not able to access your money until you turn 60 years old. In some circumstances, such as terminal illness, you may be able to access your funds before this. If you do choose to withdraw some money before you turn 60, however, you will be charged 25% of the amount you take out.
Sometimes referred to as an Investment ISA, the Stocks and Shares ISA invests your money. As the name suggests, your money will be invested into stocks and shares, as well as bonds, property and funds, to name a few.
As with the Lifetime ISA, you don’t have to pay any tax on the money you earn, whether it be capital gains, interest or dividends. After any fees are taken, you keep everything you earn from your investments. Result!
To open a stocks and shares ISA and start paying into it, you must be aged 18 or over and be a resident in the UK. As with all ISAs, there is an allowance on how much you can put into your ISA. The allowance for the 2021/22 tax year is a maximum of £20,000.
Yes, that’s right – you can put twenty thousand smackeroonies in there – and keep all your interest, capital returns and dividends you receive – tax free!
It is important to remember, that although they are named as a type of Individual SAVINGS account, it is in fact not a type of savings, but instead a investment. Stocks and Shares ISAs do not come without risk and returns are not always guaranteed. Your capital is at risk, and you may lose money as well as gaining it.
However, overtime, there is a chance your investment will grow. Compound interest adds to the total in your Stocks and Shares ISA. Your investment may go down as well as up, and the higher the risk, the increased likelihood of a higher reward.
A Cash ISA is the ISA most similar to your traditional, run of the mill savings account. You only have to be 16 years old to open a Cash ISA. It is a way to save money and earn interest on your savings.
As with traditional savings accounts, many see Cash ISAs as a way to keep their savings safe from the uncertainties of the financial market. However, Cash ISAs are not always the best option for keeping your money at it’s best rate. If inflation rates exceed the interest rates on your Cash ISA – which in the current climate means they are likely to – the money in your Cash ISA may actually lose value in real terms. This is definitely something to consider before opening a Cash ISA.
A benefit of Cash ISAs is that there is no tax to be paid on any interest you earn. When you have a savings account with a bank, it is common practice to charge you income tax on any savings you have over £1,000.
Junior ISAs (JISAs) are an amazing way to give your children the best possible start to their adult life. The earlier you open it, the more savings they will have when they turn 18 years old. So, how do JISAs work?
Junior ISAs were launched just over a decade ago, in 2011. The Government launched them as a replacement for Child Trust Funds, and they let you save and invest for your child or children’s futures. You cannot open a JISA if you already pay into a Child Trust Fund, however. If you would like to, you can move any funds in your Child Trust Fund into a JISA. Once the transfer is complete, the Child Trust Fund will be permanently closed.
As with every type of ISA, there are a few rules when opening one, the main ones being they are for children under 18, and they must be a resident in the UK. They also have an annual allowance, which dictates how much you can put into a JISA per year. The limit for the 2021/22 tax year is £9,000 per annum.
Not only are they perfect for giving your youngster a foot in the door, but they come with a huge bonus – they are tax-efficient, so you do not get taxed on any capital gains or interest. That’s right – you could save for your little one for 18 years, and you get to keep every single penny of interest that you gain in that time.
There are two types of JISA to choose from – a Junior Stocks and Shares ISA and a Junior Cash ISA. You can pay into one or the other, or even both. The choice is entirely your own. However, it is important to remember the JISA itself is not your own. It belongs solely to your child and no one else. When they turn 18 years old, they can access their JISA.
A great Junior Stocks and Shares ISA to use is Beanstalk. Beanstalk is a money saving app that lets you, or anyone you invite, add funds for the future for your kids. The best thing about Beanstalk is the fact they don’t require a minimum or regular contribution, so regardless of your financial situation, you can set one up!
If your child wants to continue saving as an adult and they do not withdraw any money from this, it will become an adult ISA. This will help them continue to build their financial future. Plus, it is a tax-efficient way to do so!
Last on our list, but most certainly not least, is the Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA). IFISAs are essentially a way for you to become a lender. This means your ISA will help to provide loans to approved businesses and individuals through peer-to-peer lending.
You will receive a fixed amount of interest in return, over a set period of time. Plus, you will pay no tax on the interest and capital you may gain from this lending. Thus, if you lend to an up-and-coming business that turns into something profitable, you could be looking at some serious returns on your lending.
As with all investments and lending, there are risks which are associated with them. Without a bank acting as the middleman, there are greater opportunities for both the lenders and borrowers. There are also greater risks. For example, borrowers may default and fail to return your money. However, with greater risk comes greater reward. Ultimately, it is entirely your own choice what you choose to do with your money.
It is also important to keep in mind that your capital is at risk when opening an IFISA. Similarly, in the event of a borrower failing to return your money, you would be unable to receive financial compensation. This is due to your money not being protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).