Is cash Isa transfer season over?One in four cash Isas won't allow transfers in

23 December 2013

The number of instant access cash Isas allowing you to transfer your previous years’ allowances has dropped by 12% over the past year, with one in four now not accepting transfers.

Which? Money analysis of the cash Isa market found that in November 2013, 21 of the 88 instant access cash Isas available didn’t allow transfers in.

Just one year previously in November 2012, by comparison, there were 115 cash Isas on the market, with 88% allowing transfers in. Five years ago, there were 128 cash Isa deals to choose from, compared with the 88 today. 

You can see the best rates available in our guide to cash Isas.

Competitive rates

Unfortunately for savers, many of the 21 deals currently not permitting transfers actually offer the most competitive rates. For those with cash Isas that have built up over several years, this doesn’t make it easy for them to ensure they're getting the best returns.

For instance, the top-paying rate on an instant access cash Isa of 1.75% is offered by National Savings & Investments, Stafford Railway Building Society and Virgin Money, but only Virgin Money allows transfers in. If that account was to be removed, or if the rate fell, the next best deal accepting transfers pays 1.6%.

Moving your savings

If you want to move all or part of a previous year's Isa savings, you need an account with an Isa that accepts transfers. If you want to move your money from one Isa provider to another, your old and new Isa providers should arrange the transfer of your funds between them. If you withdraw the money and move it yourself to a new Isa, your savings lose their tax-free status.

We’re keen to see banks simplifying the range of savings accounts they offer that are no longer open to new customers. In November 2013, for example, NatWest simplified its Isa range by cutting it from four to two, while removing seven closed Isas. But we’ll be watching closely to see whether customers’ ability to get a decent rate on existing Isa savings is diminishing.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is carrying out a study of the cash savings market to see if it is working well for consumers, and we want to see it taking decisive action where it sees poor practice.

More on this...

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  • Switching your cash ISA - read through our FAQs