Best ways to save for children

Savings accounts

Best ways to save for children

By Chiara Cavaglieri

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Best ways to save for children

Discover the smartest ways to build up savings for your kids, how children's savings accounts work and the perks of Junior Isas.

1. Open a Junior Isa

Junior Isas are a tax-free way to save for your children. Parents and other relatives can save up to £4,080 in the 2016-17 tax year in a Junior Isa. The money can only be accessed when the child turns 18. 

Like standard Isas, Junior Isas can be held in cash or stocks and shares, or you can divide the allowance between both. 

Find out more: Junior Isas explained – read our complete guide to Junior Isas

2. Save with an NS&I children's bond

You can invest between £25 and £3,000 tax-free for five years at a time until the child reaches 16, at which point he or she will gain control of the bond. The interest rate is guaranteed, so you'll know how much the investment will earn at the end of the five-year term. 

But if you need access to the money before the end of the five years, you'll face a penalty – the equivalent of 90 days’ interest on the amount you cash in. 

3. Buy premium bonds

Parents and grandparents can open premium bonds for under-16s, which may be held in the child’s name. Instead of paying interest, each bond number is entered into a monthly prize draw with the chance to win between £25 and £1m. 

On the plus side, all winnings are tax-free but, of course, there's no guarantee that you'll win anything at all. The odds of each £1 bond number winning is currently 30,000 to one. 

Find out more: Premium bonds – all you need to know about National Savings & Investments

4. Children's easy-access savings

Children's savings accounts work in a similar way to ordinary savings accounts, with the maximum age ranging from around 15 to 20 depending on the account you choose. 

While these accounts have the advantage of allowing you to contribute and withdraw money whenever you want, any interest earned is liable for tax.

Find out more: Children's savings accounts – get the best rates on the market

5. Children's regular savings

If you're able to commit to making monthly contributions, then you can often benefit from higher rates of interest with a regular savings account. 

They're ideal for savers who are saving for something specific and wish to drip-feed cash into their account in a disciplined way, but these accounts will usually limit the number of withdrawals you can make each year and restrict the amount of money you can invest each month. 

Be careful not to miss a payment or exceed the limit on withdrawals, as doing so can cost you interest.

Find out more: Different types of savings accounts - learn about the alternatives

6. Children and income tax

In the 2016-17 tax year, each child is entitled to a tax-free allowance of £11,000. Previously, parents would complete HMRC form R85 so that any interest would be paid tax-free. 

This form is no longer necessary because all savings income from your bank or building society accounts is paid without tax deducted, thanks to the personal savings allowance, which came into force on 6 April 2016. 

You can still apply for a refund if your child paid too much tax in the 2015-16 tax year by completing form R40 and sending it to HMRC.  

Find out more: Children and income tax – get to grips with the rules

7. Start investing

You can hold investments on behalf of your child in a bare trust or a designated account. 

A designated account will be earmarked for your child but will be in your name and treated as your investment; as such, any income of more than £1,000 will be taxed at your rate, whereas a bare trust will be treated as your child’s for tax purposes.

8. Set up a pension

If you're thinking of taking a very long-term approach, you could take out a pension on behalf of your child and pay in regular amounts. 

You can currently contribute up to £2,880 each tax year, which is boosted to £3,600 including tax relief. When your child reaches 18, ownership of the pension will transfer to them and they can start making their own contributions.

  • Last updated: September 2016
  • Updated by: Chiara Cavaglieri