NS&I and Skipton BS top cash Isa tables
You have just a few days left to use your £15,000 Isa allowance for this tax year which ends on Sunday. Top easy-access deals include National Savings & Investments Direct Isa at 1.5% tax-free.
The Post Office Premier Isa and Skipton Building Society Bonus Cash Isa Issue 4 also pay 1.5%, but both include a short-term bonus. The Post Office rate drops to 0.65% after 18 months and Skipton's to 1% after 12 months.
On fixed-rate deals, Virgin Money pays a top 1.65% for one year while both Yorkshire and Clydesdale banks pay 2.1% for two years.
The Virgin account is available online or in branches but the Yorkshire and Clydesdale deals are only available on the high street. The top rate online for two years is 1.85% from Kent Reliance.
If you are happy to tie your money up for three years Chelsea Building Society pays 2.15% on an account available online. The same deal is on offer through Yorkshire Building Society's branches.
Best taxable rates
On taxable easy-access accounts, the top rate at 1.41% before tax (1.13% after tax) comes from Virgin Money Defined Access account but you are limited to making three withdrawals a year.
You can earn 1.25% (1%) with no withdrawal restrictions from Kent Reliance, Skipton Building Society, Charter Savings Bank and State Bank of India. Virgin Money pays a slightly lower 1.21% (0.97%) with no withdrawal restrictions.
Best deals on fixed-rate bonds come from Charter Savings Bank at 1.8% (1.44%) for one year, Shawbrook Bank at 1.9% (1.52%) for 18 months or 2.2% (1.76%) for two years.
Hinckley and Rugby BS pays a top 3% (2.4%) for one year but the account is only available to those who became members of the society before 30 November last year and the maximum you can put in is £5,000.
Hold-off on pensioner bonds?
Those aged 65 or more can earn 2.8% (2.24%) for one year and a top 4% (3.2%) for three years with National Savings & Investments. The maximum you can put into each bond is £10,000 and they are on sale until 15 May.
If you delay buying the bonds until the new tax year starts on 5 April, you can use the new £1,000 personal savings allowance to offset tax on your interest.
This allowance, which comes in on 6 April 2016, lets basic-rate taxpayers earn their first £1,000 of savings interest without paying tax on it. For higher-rate tax payers it's £500.
As the interest will not be added to your account until the 2016-2017 tax year, it will automatically be paid before any tax is taken off and can be set off against your new allowance.
This article was written for our sister website Money Observer
There are limits to how much you can invest in any tax year. For 2011/12, the limit is £10,680. Of that, the maximum you can invest in cash is £5,340 and the balance of £5,340 can be invested in shares (individual company shares or investment funds). If you don’t take the cash ISA allowance, you can invest up to £10,680 into a stocks and shares ISA.
Invidivual Savings Accounts were introduced on 6 April 1999 to replace personal equity plans (PEPs) and tax-exempt special savings accounts (TESSAs) with one plan that covered both stockmarket and savings products, the returns from which are tax-exempt. The ISA is not in itself an investment product. Rather, it’s a tax-free “wrapper” in which you place investments and savings up to a specified annual allowance where the returns (capital growth, dividends, interest) are tax-exempt (you don’t have to declare ISAs and their contents on your tax return). However, any dividends are taxed within the investment, and that can’t be reclaimed.
This is a mutual organisation owned by its members and not by shareholders. These societies offer a range of financial services but have historically concentrated on taking deposits from savers and lending the money to borrowers as mortgages, hence the name. In the mid-1990s many societies “demutualised” and became banks. One academic study (Heffernan, 2003) found demutualised societies’ pricing on deposits and mortgages was more favourable to shareholders than to customers, with the remaining mutual building societies offering consistently better rates. In 1900, there were 2,286 building societies in the UK; in 2011, there are just 51.