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Cash Isa deals of the week 17 April 2014

Which? experts round up the best cash Isa deals

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Which? Money provides its weekly look at the best deals out there to help you invest your new cash Isa allowance for 2014/15.

Cash Isa allowance for 2014/15

Each year you can deposit your savings into a cash or a stocks and shares Isa, or both. 

The overall allowance has increased to £11,880 for the 2014/15 tax year, which started on 6 April 2014. The limit for cash Isas has risen to £5,940 from £5,760.

However, from 1 July 2014, the overall investment limit will be increased further to £15,000 a year. This limit can be made up of cash, or stocks and shares, or a mixture of both. 

To maximise your tax-free allowance, remember to save in a cash Isa before putting your money in an ordinary taxable savings account.

The best cash Isas

Instant access cash Isa 

Top of the pile at the moment in the best instant-access cash Isa sector is Santander, with its Direct Isa Issue 6, paying 1.60% on deposits starting from a minimum of £500. However, it’s worth noting that this account includes a 1.10% bonus payable for the first year, so you’ll need to switch to a competitive account once the bonus period ends as the rate reverts to just 0.50%. 

If you prefer an account which doesn’t come with a ‘teaser’ rate, Isas from NS&I, Nationwide and Virgin Money are worth considering as they all offer a rate of 1.50%.

Notice cash Isa

Notice cash Isa accounts used to pay a higher rate for locking up your money, but at the moment, this isn’t the case as there aren’t any notice accounts paying more than the top instant access cash Isa rate.

Bank of Cyprus UK’s 35 Day Notice Cash Isa pays a rate of 1.50%, but you’ll need to give just over a months’ notice to get at your cash. This account can be operated at a branch, via the internet, over the phone or by post and requires a minimum initial deposit of £500.

One-year fixed-rate cash Isa

Halifax’s and Tesco Bank’s one-year fixed-rate cash Isas are the best in the market at present. They both pay 1.65% and allow transfers in from other providers. If you’re looking to save for a little longer than a year, Shawbrook Bank and Halifax both offer an 18-month fixed rate Isa, paying 2.05% and 2.00% respectively.

Two-year fixed-rate cash Isa

The two-year fixed-rate cash Isa deals from the Halifax and Nationwide, paying 2.05%, are the best products if you’re happy to tie your money up for two years.

Three-year fixed-rate cash Isa 

Halifax, Nationwide, Skipton Building Society and United Trust Bank currently top our three-year fixed-rate cash Isa table, all paying 2.25%. The deals from Bank of Cyprus UK and TSB follow closely behind, both at 2.10%.

Four-year fixed-rate cash Isa 

Halifax’s Isa Saver Fixed and Nationwide’s Fixed Isa are both offering a rate of 2.40% and are the best four-year fixed-rate cash Isa deals at the moment. It’s worth noting that you can earn up to 2.40% in the account from Lloyds Bank, if you have £20,000 or more to invest.

Five-year fixed-rate cash Isa 

Skipton Building Society’s Fixed Rate Isa account currently tops our five-year fixed-rate cash Isa table, paying 3.00% from an initial deposit of £500.

Cash Isa tip of the week

If you want to move money from one Isa to another, your old and new Isa providers should arrange the transfer of your funds between them, protecting your tax-free benefits. You’ll need to complete an Isa transfer form, which will include a note to be sent to your existing Isa provider.

The key point is that you shouldn’t just take out the cash from your Isa account to deposit elsewhere – you’ll lose your tax benefits by doing this.

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