< Aviva Stocks & Shares ISA

How do ISAs work?

Understanding your options

You've heard that Individual Savings Accounts are a good way to save or invest your money tax-efficiently. And it's true.

You can spread £20,000 of your money across the different ISAs you own. And you can potentially beat the rising costs of living as well as the low rate of returns from regular saving accounts.

We'll tell you what you need to know in a few minutes with our easy-to-read guide.

What's my annual ISA allowance?

Your annual allowance for ISAs for this tax year is £20,000. This limit is set by the government, not your ISA providers.

You won't pay any Income or Capital Gains Tax on the returns you make up to that amount. And you can pay into multiple types of ISAs in one year – although you can only pay into one of each type a year.

You've also got Junior ISAs for under 18s with a tax-efficient annual allowance of £4,368. Jump ahead to our JISA section for more information.

Take note: the total amount you pay into all your ISAs - excluding the JISA - must add up to no more than £20,000 a year. So, if you're paying into one cash ISA and one Stocks and Shares ISAs this year, for example, you can't pay in any more than £20,000 in total.

You get a new allowance every year. And you don't have to use the full amount of your ISA allowance. But you can't carry over any portion of the allowance you haven't used that year. 

For instance, if you've still got £10,000 of your allowance to use, you can't add it to next year's allowance of £20,000 for a total of £30,000.

You have until 5 April each year to use your full ISA allowance. For more information, see our 'Don't lose your ISA allowance' article.

What's the minimum ISA contribution?

The minimum amount you can put in an ISA depends on which ISA you open and who your provider is.

For example, you can open our Stocks and Shares ISA with a minimum lump sum of £500 - or you can pay a minimum of £50-a-month to get started. 

Some providers have a lower minimum, like our partner Wealthify (the minimum there is £1). 

You're probably keen on the idea of opening an ISA already. But first you need to know the ISA rules.

What are the ISA rules?

They're fairly simple. You must be at least 18-years-old to open an ISA. And you can only open and put money into one of each type of ISA every year.

For example, you can only open one stocks and shares ISA this year. But you could open a stocks and shares ISA and a junior ISA if you want. You can also transfer an existing ISA from one provider to another - although you may have to pay a fee to do so, depending on your provider.

Some ISAs are 'flexible'. For example:

Say you put £10,000 into an ISA this year and you withdraw £3,000.

A 'flexible' ISA will let you put up to £13,000 into your ISA this year. That's the remaining allowance of £10,000 plus the £3,000 you took out.

But a non-flexible ISA won't let you do this. You'll only be able to put in the remaining allowance of £10,000.

If you want to pay back any of the money you withdraw from your flexible ISA, you just need to make sure you pay it back in during the same tax year you take it out.

You're up to speed on the ISA maximum and minimum allowances and the basic rules. Now…

What kind of ISAs are there?

There are several ISAs on the market. Some of them will be more suited to your needs and some of them won't. 

Here's a quick rundown, followed by how you can get started today:

Stocks and Shares ISA

Open a tax-efficient stocks and shares ISA and your money can be invested into a range of assets. It's more of a long-term option than cash ISAs and can provide better returns on your money. 

Broadly speaking, when you invest, you can choose from two types of fund – actively managed and passively managed funds.

Actively managed funds have a fund manager who makes the investment decisions on your behalf. Their goal is to beat the overall returns of an investment benchmark or index.

A passively managed fund tracks a defined stock market and will match that market's returns or losses. The fees and charges are generally lower than active funds because you don't have to pay a fund manager.

Both types of funds will invest your money in a range of stocks and shares in various sectors. Picking funds to do the hard work for you means you don't need to pick individual companies to invest in yourself. 

There are funds for every type of asset, from low-risk UK government bonds or gilts, to higher-risk shares from global stocks. However, shares usually offer the greatest chance of higher returns over the long-term.

And remember, as with all investments, the value of your money can go down as well as up. You may get back less than you paid in. For more information, see our article on 'how to understand risk'.

Jump ahead to learn more about our Stocks and Shares ISA.

Cash ISA

Earn interest on your money in cash ISAs without paying any tax. Many providers offer easy access to your money – useful for short term savings.

However, according to research by asset management firm Schroders 1, the real value of cash ISAs have fallen almost every year between 2009 and 2017 because of the combination of inflation and low saving returns. Making it harder to keep up with the rising cost of living.

If you want a potentially better rate of return, take a look at investment ISAs instead.

Innovative Finance ISA

Invests your money in peer-to-peer loans. Be careful - your money isn't protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme with this kind of ISA. 

You might consider our investment ISAs – up to £85,000 of your money may be protected by the FSCS.

Lifetime ISA

You can open a LISA if you're aged 18-39 and are saving for your first home or your retirement. The government will pay you a 25% bonus up to £1,000 a year on the money you invest.

However, you'll pay a penalty if you want to withdraw your money for any reason other than your first home or retirement. So think carefully about your future plans and whether you'd be better off with a different type of ISA.

Junior ISA

You can open a junior ISA (JISA) for your child under 18. The returns may be higher over a medium to long term than cash ISAs, and ISAs and a great way to give your loved one a head start in the money game.

Jump ahead to learn more about our JISA.

Help-to-Buy ISA

This gives first-time property buyers a 25% bonus from the government of up to £3,000. The scheme is open to new savers until end November 2019.

What ISAs do you offer?

Aviva offers both stocks and shares ISAs and junior ISAs. And our Stocks and Shares ISAs offer two different approaches depending on what you want.

Open a Stocks & Shares ISA

You can open a stocks & shares ISA with us to potentially grow your money for use at a later date. You can invest to prioritise the growth of your pot of available money. Or you can invest in funds that aim to provide you with a regular income in the form of dividends. Or you can aim for a mix of both.

If you don't feel confident enough to make those investment decisions yourself, then take a look at getting someone to do it for you. Our partner Wealthify run a robo-investing platform that readjusts your investments for you twice a year. All you have to do to get started is select how confident you feel about investing from 'cautious' to 'adventurous'.

You don't need to buy or sell any investments yourself. And it only costs a £1 to get started. Your investments can still rise and fall in value, but you don't need to worry about the uncertainty of doing everything yourself.

If you're still unsure about investing, see our Investment Knowledge Hub to learn the basics on getting started.

Open a Junior ISA

JISA's don't count towards the £20,000 ISA allowance, meaning you can invest up to £4,368 a year for your child or grandchild.

The money is locked away and transfers to your dependent once they hit 18 years old.

For more information on how it could benefit your child, see our 'What is a JISA?' guide.

Where do I get started?

Explore our investments page to learn more about our Stocks and Shares  ISA, Wealthify 's ISA and the Junior ISA.

Contact us

Still need some help? Give us a call.

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