ISA transfers explained

The rules to help you move your ISAs

ISAs can be a handy way to earn tax free interest or returns, but moving money for a better rate or lower fees requires a different process to money held in normal cash savings or investment accounts. Here’s what you need to know.

What is an ISA transfer?

With non-ISA savings accounts, it’s pretty simple if you want to swap your money into a better paying account yourself.

You can withdraw it to your current account and then add it to the new savings account, or in some cases transfer it straight between the two savings accounts. You might even close the old savings account down completely to get the funds sent to you. Easy.

However with an ISA you shouldn’t do this. Instead, you need to follow a separate “ISA Transfer” process. This is where the new bank or investment firm will contact your current provider and arrange for the money to be moved over.

Why you need to use ISA transfers

ISAs have an annual allowance for new money of £20,000 a year, which is a collective amount across all the different ISAs you might have.

Let’s say you added £5,000 to an ISA in a financial year, and want to move it to a different account. If you withdrew it yourself out of an ISA, and then paid it into a new ISA, that would actually count as another £5,000 from your total allowance, bringing that year’s contributions to £10,000 – even though there’s just £5,000 held in the ISA.

That’s not a problem if you then don’t add more than £10,000 more in the same year as you’d still be within your allowance. So you can do this without any issue.

But what about larger amounts? If instead you’d saved £15,000 this year, and removed it all, you’d only be able to pay £5,000 of that back into a new ISA. You’d need to wait until the £20,000 allowance resets in a new financial year to add the rest, and it’ll lower how much more extra cash you can add on top.

And don’t forget ISAs from previous years. That £20,000 cap applies just to money added in one year. Once it’s in there, it keeps the ISA protections. So over the years you could have funds that are well over the £20,000. Plus you’ll be earning interest or gains/dividends on the money held there too.

So by using the ISA transfer system you’re keeping your money within the ISA, and keeping that tax-free protection year after year on the full amount.

Adding money to new ISAs before April 2024

It’s worth noting here than before April 6 2024 you aren’t able to pay new money into different ISAs of the same type in the same financial year unless you’ve first transferred over the full balance of new funds added in the year. You can keep money in an old ISA if it was added in previous years.

So in our example above, if you had paid £5,000 into an ISA and then withdrew it, you wouldn’t actually be able to add new cash to one at a different provider. All you could do would be to add it back to the existing one and then transfer it, or open up a different ISA type instead.

However from the new financial year the rules are changing, and this won’t be a problem. You’ll be able to add money to any number of ISAs in a year – though you’ll still need to keep to the overall £20,000 annual allowance.

Should you transfer your ISA?

As with any savings account it’s vital you keep an eye on the interest rate you’re getting. So if your ISA isn’t earning you the best possible rate, then transferring it across is a no-brainer.

The same goes for investments as you might find you can get lower fees or a different variety of assets if you move your money to a different provider.

You might also want to swap Stocks & Shares ISAs into Cash ISAs once you’re retired, to remove the chances for money dropping in value.

Watch out for any penalties though. It could be a fixed rate ISA hasn’t matured yet, and transferring it will sacrifice any interest accrued so far. Or for Stocks & Shares ISAs, watch out for any transfer out or selling fees that could crop up.

Full vs partial ISA transfers

When making a transfer you might be able choose how much you want to move across – it all depends on whether the new ISA provider accepts partial transfers. This helps if you want to split your money across different types of ISA.

The new rules from April 2024 extend the ability to make partial transfers to new money added in the current financial year, so you can choose to keep some where it is, and then move some across. The new rules also allow you to contribute to both of these (or more), up to the annual allowance.

However, you can only fully transfer new contributions to Lifetime and Junior ISAs to new providers.

How to transfer an ISA

First up, research to see if you can get a better paying Cash ISA or a lower fee Stocks & Shares ISA. Make sure you check the new ISA allows transfer in.

Once you’ve opened up the new ISA you’ll need to find a special form to initiate the transfer. Some will do this online through your account. If your new ISA provider isn’t listed on that form, or if there’s no digital form at all, you’ll need to fill in an actual paper form and post it or drop it off in a branch.

You’ll need the details of the existing ISA you want to move, and put that in the form. If it’s a partial transfer you’ll need to say how much you want to move.

ISA transfer rules

Here are the basic rules you need to follow:


  • Always get your new provider to make the transfer
  • If you’re moving some of the money added in this financial year, make sure you keep track of how much you add to other ISAs in the year


  • Always get your new provider to make the transfer
  • If you’re transferring money added in this year you need to move the full amount
  • Once new money has been transferred you can only add more money to that same new ISA

ISA transfer FAQs

Do all ISAs allow transfers?

Every ISA can be transferred out. Sadly, not every ISA provider allows transfers in from other providers, so if you’re after an account that allows this you’ll need to check the terms and conditions.

Is there a minimum you have to transfer?

Before 6 April 2024, transferring new money means you have to transfer all the contribitions you have made that year. But for older money, or after 6 April, you can choose how much you move.

Is there a cap for ISA transfers?

If you’re only transferring money you’ve paid in this year, then obviously it’ll still be governed by the annual £20,000 limit. However that doesn’t include any interest or other gains – that can be moved alongside the deposits.

There’s technically no limit on how much you can transfer over from ISAs built up over multiple years, but watch out for balances above the FSCS limit of £85,000. This is the maximum that is protected if the bank was to go bust, so you’re better off making partial transfers to different providers if that could be a problem.

Does it cost to transfer an ISA?

It’s unlikely you’ll be charged to move Cash ISAs, but investment ones can sometimes have fees for selling or transferring out.

When can you transfer ISAs?

There are no restrictions on when you can move money between ISAs, though some ISAs themselves might have penalties, for example if you move money while it’s still fixed.

Does an ISA transfer count towards that year’s allowance?

The good news is that transferring an ISA won’t affect your annual allowance – that’s the whole point of transferring the money. So no matter how much you move across via this method, you’ll still have your full £20,000 allowance to use for new deposits in that year.

Can you transfer more than one ISA?

You can make more than one transfer in a year, whether that’s moving money from more than one ISA, or moving the same money a few times.

In theory you can transfer more than one old ISA into a new one, though it will depends on the rules for that specific ISA.

Can you transfer between different types of ISA?

You’re allowed to transfer Cash ISAs to Stocks & Shares ISAs and vice versa – as long as the new provider allows this.

With Cash it’s pretty simple, though with investments there are often two approaches. You can transfer investments over “in-specie”, where the exact same shares move to the new ISA.

Or you can sell the current investments back to cash, then buy them again (or different investments) in the new ISA. This might be quicker than in-specie, but you might not be able to buy exactly the same shares as you currently hold in the new ISA, while the cost to buy those shares could also have increased or decreased.

You can also transfer from a Cash ISA or Stocks & Shares ISA into a Lifetime ISA, though of course you’re limited there by the LISA’s £4,000 annual cap.

Can you transfer into an existing ISAs?

There’s nothing to say you can’t move your money into an ISA you already have open rather than open a new one. It’ll just be down to whether that provider allows transfers in. Do remember to shop around first though to ensure you can’t get a better rate elsewhere.

Does opening an ISA for a transfer count as a “new ISA”?

You’re able to open ISAs for transfers as much as you want. It’s only pre April 2024 where the rules restricted new cash contributions to one ISA a year – but that rule is gone from 6 April.

Can you transfer a fixed rate ISA before maturity?

You will technically be able to do this, but there will be an interest penalty if you do. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. If you have a long fix at a low rate and can now get an account with a much better one, it’s worth doing the maths to see if you’ll be better off in the long term.

How long does an ISA transfer take?

This is one of the frustrations with ISAs – the movement of money isn’t instant. Though they can be quicker, the rules state:

  • Cash ISA to Cash ISA transfers should take no longer than 15 working days
  • Other ISA transfers should take no longer than 30 calendar days

If it takes longer than this you can complain to the provider to move things along and request compenstion.

4 thoughts on “ISA transfers explained

  1. Thank you. Probably the best ISA summary I’ve read – and I’ve read quite a few to try to understand it. Now I do!

  2. Help please
    In September 23 I opened a new ISA paying 5.85% which only matures September 24. There is £7000 in there.I now have another £13,000 to deposit. This is new money and hasn’t been in the ISA above. I’ve seen a new ISA with the same bank ,paying 5.25%.
    Question is should I leave the original where it is at 5.85%…till September 24 and open the second one at 5.25% now?

    1. If you are no longer able to deposit the new funds into your existing ISA then open the new one paying 5.25% now before April 6th and keep the older one as well at the higher rate. Once that older one matures later this year – depending on the rate offered after maturity, it could be transferred to another ISA offering a better rate then the one you get offered in September 2024 without affecting your tax free status for this year of post April 6th 2024

    2. If you have only paid in £7000 in 2023, you can pay in the £13000 into your current isa at 5.85%….so long as you do it before midnight April 5th 2024. You then use last years £20000 isa allowance to the full AND still have £20000 for 2024.

      That’s what I would do, but it’s your decision.


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