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How many ISAs can I have and open in a year? Let’s find out

The ISA allowance is £20,000 per person, per tax year. But there are many types of ISAs. You might ask yourself how many ISAs can I have and how does the annual allowance apply. These are valid questions, and this blog has been written to provide you with the answers you need and more.

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The different types of ISA

There are four mains types of ISA, They are:

All four of the types shown above are ISAs you can take out personally for yourself. The fifth type is the Junior ISA (JISA). Junior ISA is not the type of ISA you open in your name but you have to initiate it on behalf of a young person under the age of 18, who is a resident in the UK. But let’s get back to the point in question – how many ISAs can you have?

How many ISAs can one person have?

You can have as many ISAs as you like. Just to clarify, you can ask the question about each ISA separately.

  • How many Cash ISAs can I have? – As many as you like.
  • How many IFISAs can I have? – As many as pleases you.
  • How many LISAs can I have? – As many as you can handle.
  • How many Stocks and Shares ISAs can I have? – The choice is yours.

As you can see, there is no limit to how many ISAs you can run except when it comes to the question of how many Junior ISAs can you have? This needs a more considered answer because, don’t forget, a Junior ISA is in the child’s name and not yours.

You can invest in as many Junior ISAs as you like. However, for tax relief purposes, you can only invest up to £9,000 each tax year. So, if you have many children or grandchildren, you can put money into all of their Junior ISAs up to the maximum, and that maximum of £9,000 is per account.

Junior ISAs come in two forms – a Cash ISA or a Stocks and Shares ISA. From the child’s point of view, one child can only have one of each type of Junior ISA at any one point in time.

ISAs in the same household

You might ask yourself, how many ISA accounts can you have per UK household? The same logic applies. You can have as many as you like, but to reiterate, when it comes down to Junior ISAs, you are only permitted one of each type (Cash or Stocks and Shares) per child, per household.

Multiple portfolios in various stocks and shares ISAs

One of the key factors for reducing risk with any investment is diversification. Now you know the answer to how many Stocks and Shares ISAs you can have, when you open multiple Stocks and Shares ISA, it allows you greater freedom with diversifying your portfolios. The type of investments you can hold in an ISA tax wrapper include:

Whereas you can have any blend of investments in a single portfolio, with this new knowledge, you can do your specialist diversification in separate ISAs if you so choose. It allows you a greater degree of control.

But before you start making plans, you also need to know how many stocks and shares ISA accounts you can open and pay into in one tax year.

How many ISAs can you open in a year?

Now that you know the number of ISAs accounts you can have is almost limitless, but does that mean you can open as many as you like in the same tax year?

The answer, I’m afraid, is no, it does not. You are only able to open one type of each ISA variant per tax year and each tax year runs from April 6th to April 5th the following year. This means you can open four ISA accounts per tax year; six accounts if you include the two types of Junior ISAs. So if you are planning on opening more in the long term, you will need to put your thinking cap on or talk to a wealth specialist company to set out your forward plans.

How many ISAs can you pay into in a year?

In a similar way to the fact that you can only open one type of ISA per tax year, you can also only pay into one type of ISA in the same tax year. For example, you make a payment into a cash ISA but you can’t open or make payment into a second cash ISA in the same year. However, you can make contributions to each of the five variants of ISAs (6 if you include both types of Junior ISA), but the total sum you invest across all types mustn’t exceed the £20,000 per annum cap.

Let’s look at how many ISAs can you have registered in the UK in one tax year with the annual investments shown.

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  • Cash, Stocks and Shares and IFISAs – £20,000 in one type only or shared across all three.
  • LISAs – £4,000 total per annum
  • JISAs – £9,000 total per annum

If you invest in a JISA or a LISA, the amount you invest must be deducted from your £20,000 annual ISA allowance, and you cannot invest more than the remaining balance into other ISAs.

What about ISAs from previous years?

Now that you know how many ISAs you can have in the UK at any given point in time, which is as many as you can open throughout your lifetime, you can, if you wish, pay into them in subsequent years, providing you stick within the rules. You cannot exceed the £20,000 limit across the board or the individual caps.

You also need to be aware that you cannot carry any unused annual ISA allowance forward into the next tax year. It is a clear case of using it or losing it.

The ISAs you have raised in past years will remain active unless you cancel them. The only exceptions are Junior ISAs. The child can take over management at the age of 16 and withdraw the funds under his or her own steam when they reach 18 years of age without any input from you.

But the others will stay open, and if you keep adding new accounts year on year, it can become rather unwieldy to keep track of them all, and they might not provide the best returns. But you can, if you wish, transfer funds from one ISA to another and close the unwanted ones down.

Transferring funds from one ISA to another

Instead of asking yourself how many ISAs can I open a year, it could be you should be thinking about condensing what you already have into a more manageable, more profitable, smaller number of portfolios.

You have the right to transfer funds in an ISA from one provider to another at any point in time. They can be moved into the same type of ISA with another provider or a different type of ISA altogether. The choice is yours.

The thing you need to be aware of, however, is that if you are transferring money you have invested in the current year, you have to transfer all of it, not part. This doesn’t apply to money you invested in earlier years. That can be transferred totally or in part.

However, you need to know that if you transfer funds from a LISA into a different type of ISA before you reach 60 years of age, the withdrawal will be subject to a 25% fee.

Transferring funds between IFISAs

You can transfer cash from your current IFISA provider to another, but you might not be permitted to transfer other investments.

The first thing to do is to refer to your current provider. They will advise you, but you could be liable to be charged a fee.

If you do transfer money in this way, make sure to contact your current provider and complete the appropriate ISA transfer form. If you don’t, you won’t be able to reinvest it using that part of your tax-free allowance.

Seek professional advice

ISAs are an excellent way of investing but it is essential to make the best use of your ISA allowance. Now that you know the answers to questions such as how many ISA accounts can you have and pay into, and how to transfer various accounts as a consolidation exercise, you can manage your investments to your best advantage.

Unless you are a finance professional, you should take free, impartial advice from a specialist wealth management company like Moneyfarm. Remember that investments can depreciate and appreciate, and planning for a comfortable, safe financial future is no easy thing. Play it safe and talk to the professionals.

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