An ISA is a great way to save tax free, but it should be fit for purpose. By transferring your ISA, you could access a better interest rate or a different type of ISA while retaining the tax-free status. If you want to know more about how to transfer an ISA, read on.
Please note that tax treatment depends on the specific circumstances of the individual and may be subject to change in the future.
1. Identify the type of ISA you want to transfer
The process will vary depending on the type of ISA that you want to transfer.
Current year or previous year?
If you don’t follow the different rules for ISAs from the current year and previous years, you risk losing the tax-free benefits associated with the savings you are transferring. Further information is available in our article on ISA transfer rules.
Cash ISA or stocks and shares ISA?
Transferring a cash ISA is relatively straightforward. When transferring a stocks and shares ISA you will need to choose between a cash transfer or an ‘in-specie’ transfer.
In a cash transfer, the current provider will sell your shares and transfer the cash to the new provider. An ‘in-specie’ transfer involves the transfer of the investments without selling the funds.
2. Check all fees, charges and penalties
Make sure you are aware of the fees and charges associated with transferring away from your current provider.
If you have a fixed-term account, you will be charged a penalty fee if you transfer before the end of the term. If you have a notice account, you will be penalised if you move your funds before the end of the notice period. In both of these situations, timing could be key if you want to avoid losing money.
3. Find a suitable provider
Not all providers accept ISA transfers into new accounts so check this before making a decision.
You will also need to decide whether you want to transfer to a cash ISA or a stocks and shares ISA. If you are in the process of looking for a suitable cash ISA, you could check out our selection of cash ISA reviews.
Many providers offer a cash incentive to open an account with them. This might be worth considering if you have concerns about the fees and charges imposed by your current provider.
4. Contact the new provider
Once you have found a suitable provider, contact them and ask them for guidance. They will be able to help you if you have further queries on how to transfer an ISA.
Ask them any questions about the service and account. If necessary, they will also be able to talk you through the application process.
You can usually download a form, print it off, fill it out and send it back. If you don’t have access to a computer and printer, ask the provider for guidance. They should be able to send a form to you in the post.
5. Check progress
Transferring a cash ISA takes less time than a stocks and shares ISA because the stocks and shares need to be sold.
As a general rule of thumb, it should take around 15 days to transfer a cash ISA and around a month for a stocks and shares ISA.
6. Check all details on completion
You should receive information in the post about the new account. Check the amount transferred and any fees and charges imposed by your old provider.
Contact either the old or new provider if you have any queries about the accounts. It’s much easier to rectify any mistakes if you contact the providers sooner rather than later.
Further information on how to transfer an ISA is available on the gov.uk website.
It’s a good idea to prioritise saving on a regular basis. If you can, use up your £20,000 personal ISA allowance every financial year. You could do this by setting up a direct debit that regularly pays into your account.