The clock is really ticking now if you’re to use up this year’s Isa allowance. Which? Money provides its weekly look at the best deals out there to help you invest your money before deadline day.
Cash Isa deadline is 5 April 2012
The cash Isa deadline is important as it signifies the end of the tax year. You’ll lose this year’s tax-free savings allowance if you haven’t put money into an Isa before that date.
Some companies have application deadlines of before 5 April 2012. AA will allow online applications until 4 April, while Cheshire BS has a deadline of 2 April. NatWest and Santander allow existing online customers to apply online until 5 April and new applications can be lodged in-branch until close of play on 5 April. Halifax is accepting online applications until midnight on 5 April and branches are open until 7pm on 5 April.
Each year you can deposit your savings into a cash and/or stocks and shares Isa. The overall limit for the tax year ending 5 April 2012 is £10,680 and this goes up to £11,280 for the 2012/13 tax year starting on 6 April 2012. However, the limit for cash Isas is £5,340, going up to £5,640 for 2012/13.
The market’s best cash Isas
Warning: Isa deals and rates are changing every day at the moment as we approach 5 April 2012 and some offers are disappearing at short notice. Click on the links below for the most up-to-date deals.
Instant access cash Isa
The AA’s Internet Access Isa Issue 3 is now paying 3.5% (including a bonus of 3% for the first year), the best rate for instant access cash Isas, but does not accept transfers in from other providers. Cheshire BS’s Direct Cash Isa also pays 3.5% (including a bonus of 2.5%), but, again, doesn’t allow transfers in.
Santander’s Direct Isa Issue 9 pays 3.30%, which includes a 12-month bonus of 2.80%, and is the highest-paying Isa to allow transfers in. The minimum deposit for this account is £2,500.
Marks & Spencer Money’s Advantage Isa and Virgin Money’s Easy Access Isa/E-Isa are worth noting as they allow transfers in and the headline rates (3.0% and 2.85% respectively) don’t include a bonus, so you don’t have to worry about the rate dropping off after 12 months.
Notice cash Isa
Notice cash Isa accounts used to pay a higher rate for locking up your money, but don’t tend to anymore. The Aldermore 60 Day Cash Isa Issue 1 does pay an attractive rate of 3.15%, but you’ll need to give 60 days notice to get at your cash. After that the next best account pays 2.75%.
One-year fixed-rate cash Isa
Saga has a one-year fixed-rate Isa that pays 3.60%, but doesn’t allow transfers in.
Santander’s one-year fixed-rate cash Isa pays 3.50% and does allow transfers in. The one-year fixed-rate Isas from Marks & Spencer Money and Metro Bank are next best with a rate of 3.25%.
Two-year fixed-rate cash Isa
BM Savings’ Two-year Fixed Rate Isa offers 4.05% and has a minimum deposit of £500. The two-year fixed-rate cash Isa deal from Santander (4.00%) is also an attractive product if you’re happy to tie your money up for two years. Both of these Isas allow transfers in.
Three-year fixed-rate cash Isa
The Halifax Three-year Fixed Rate Isa Saver account currently tops our three-year fixed-rate cash Isa table paying 4.25% on initial balances of at least £500. The Cheltenham & Gloucester Three-year Fixed Rate account pays 3.90%.
Four-year fixed-rate cash Isa
The Halifax Four-year Fixed Rate Isa Saver pays 4.35% and is the only four-year fixed-rate cash Isa deal that qualifies to feature in our tables at the moment.
Five-year fixed-rate cash Isa
Once again, Halifax leads the way with its five-year Fixed Rate Isa Saver with a rate of 4.50%, a minimum deposit of £500 and allowing transfers in.
BM Savings and Clydesdale/Yorkshire Bank Fixed-Rate Isa accounts are currently paying 4.30% and 4.25% respectively. These Isas all allow transfers in from other accounts.
Cash Isa tip of the week
Lodge your application or transfer request with your new Isa provider as soon as possible and phone to check that it’s been received. Providers will vary until when they’ll accept last-minute applications, so double-check to make sure you don’t miss the boat.