Can I transfer an ISA?

Holly Thomas / 24 February 2015

Did you know that you can transfer your ISAs from one provider to another to ensure you get the best interest rates? Money expert Holly Thomas explains the rules and practicalities of switching your ISA to another provider.

One of the selling points of an ISA is the freedom to move the account around between providers.

This makes for a competitive market where ISA providers fight for your business. This is especially true around the 'ISA season' which is the run up to the new tax year on 6 April, when we all get a fresh tax-free allowance. Banks and building societies compete with new accounts and better rates to get to the top of the best buy tables.

If you have been saving in a cash ISA for many years, you will want to stay on top of the rate you’re being paid. Interest rates are pretty low these days anyway, so you will want to get the best there is.

There are plenty of accounts paying ultra low rates, with providers relying on savers to forget to check what rate they’re being paid. Don’t be one of them.

Many people fail to keep track of the rate on their ISA and it can drift lower without them realising until they get their annual statement - and by then the damage has been done. 

Read our guide to the different types of ISA.

When should I move an ISA?

Before moving your money, check there are no restrictions, such as being within a fixed rate period or if notice is required.

Then, when looking for a new home for your money, make sure that the new provider allows you to “transfer in”, which means that you can transfer money from previous ISA years. Although ISA providers are required to let you transfer out, it is not a requirement to allow transfers in. Some opt to just take ‘new’ money.

If you are free to go, there is a protocol for moving cash. Any money you take out of an ISA loses its tax-free status.

To avoid this, open your new ISA (that accepts transfers) and it is that bank which handles the movement of your money from one ISA to another. 

You will need to complete an ISA transfer form which gives all the relevant account numbers of where the money is moving from, as well as your permission to move it. Cash ISA transfers should take no longer than 15 working days.

Make a note of any set periods

Once you get your money in the best place, it might only earn the rate of interest for a set period. If this is the case, make a note in your diary to switch before the rate is cut.

If you want to transfer money you’ve invested in an ISA this current year, you must transfer all of it.

For previous years, you can choose to transfer all or part of your savings.

You can move your money between stocks and share ISA providers too.

Find out if you can inherit an ISA.

Switching investments

You can also move between providers when you invest your ISA allowance in stocks and shares, if you perhaps discover your current provider doesn’t offer the range of investments you want, or if you are paying too much in charges.

While there may be exit fees and it may also be necessary to pay another initial set-up charge, it might still be worth it in the long run.

You can move all of your money to another ISA, but you can't split cash from the current tax year between more than one stocks and shares ISA.

Like with switching a cash ISA, open a new stocks and shares ISA and the new provider will do the rest. Under current rules, the switch should take no more than 30 working days.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.