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ISAs: How many Can I have? How to Have More than One ISA

An individual savings account ISA is a savings and investment account with a tax-free ISA allowance, and the ISA allowance is £20,000 per person and per tax year. There are many types of ISAs. You might ask yourself how many ISAs can I have, and how the annual ISA allowance applies. These are valid questions; this blog has been written to provide you with the answers you need and more.

How many ISAs can I open in a year?One of each type of ISA per tax year
Can you have more than one ISA?There is no limit as to how many ISAs you can have
How many ISAs can you pay into in a year?One of each type of ISA each tax year
Can I transfer ISA funds invested in previous tax years?Yes, you can transfer part or all of your savings

OPEN YOUR ISA ACCOUNT

The different types of ISA

There are four main types of ISA:

All four of the types shown above are ISAs you can open 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 of the UK. But let’s get back to the point in question – how many ISAs can I have?

How many ISAs can one person have?

Can you have more than one ISA? You can have as many individual savings accounts (ISA) as you like. But 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, you can only invest up to £9,000 each tax year for tax relief purposes. 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

Even though ISAs are safe, 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 and household.

Multiple portfolios in various stocks and shares ISAs

One of the key factors for reducing risk with any investment is diversification. Now that you know the answer to ‘How many Stocks and Shares ISAs you can have’ when you open multiple Stocks and Shares ISAs, it allows you greater freedom in 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 choose. Moreover, 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 ISA accounts you can have is almost limitless, 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 can only open one type of each ISA variant per tax year, and each tax year runs from April 6th to April 5th of 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?

Now that you know the answer to ‘How many ISAs can you open 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. So, for example, you make a payment into a cash ISA, but you can’t open or make a 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). How much to invest in an ISA differs, 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 you can have registered in the UK in one tax year with the annual investments shown.

  • 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

You invest in a JISA without it affecting your own ISA allowance of £20,000 or an adult’s ISA allowance. However, if you invest in a LISA, you must deduct the amount you invest 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, provided you stick within the tax 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 use it or lose it.

The ISAs you have raised in previous tax 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 their own terms when they reach 18 years of age without any input from you.

But the others will stay open, and if you keep adding new ISA accounts year after 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.

Transferring funds from one ISA to another

Haven asked important questions, such as ‘Can you have more than one ISA?’ and ‘How many ISAs can you open in a year?’ you need to know the rules for transferring funds from one ISA to another to maximize your tax-free savings.

But instead of asking yourself, ‘How many ISAs can I open a year’ it could be that 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. You can move the funds into the same type of ISA with another provider or a different type of ISA altogether. The choice is yours.

However, you need to be aware that if you are transferring money you have invested in the current year, you have to transfer all of it, not part. This rule doesn’t apply to money you invested in earlier years; you can transfer the money 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.

What happens if I inherit an ISA?

You can’t actually inherit an ISA as such because, as the name suggests, an ISA is an individual savings account belonging to the account holder only. If your spouse or partner passes, you can transfer the value of the deceased’s ISA to your own ISA via what is known as an APS or Additional Permitted Subscription. In this particular instance, it doesn’t impact the question of “How many ISAs can I have,” because you inherit the value only and not the ISA itself.

Inheriting an ISA in this way doesn’t affect your personal ISA allowance in any way. That still remains at £20,000 per annum. It just gets increased on a one-off basis to allow you to receive the extra funds tax-free. But not if you’re a daughter or son of the deceased.

As offspring of the deceased, you can inherit the financial value of the ISA that has been bequeathed within limits. If the deceased’s total estate value was £350,000 or less, your inheritance will be tax-free. If the estate included the main property of the deceased, the tax-free £325K cap rises by £175K to £500,000. Anything above either cap will attract IHT at the 40% rate.

As offspring, you are not entitled to an APS. It means that your ISA allowance remains at £20K per annum. There is no way around this other than using your annual ISA allowance to the limit and investing any balance you might be left with elsewhere, perhaps in a General Investment Account (GIA).

Although you have to pay tax on non-ISA funds in GIAs, they have no annual contribution limit. It means you can put any surplus into a GIA and, each year, transfer up to £20K per annum to the ISA of your choice.

Seek professional advice

ISAs are an excellent way of investing, but it is essential to make the best use of your ISA allowance. You can manage your investments to your best advantage 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 ISA accounts’ as a consolidation exercise.

Unless you are a finance professional, you can 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. So, play it safe, talk to the professionals and ensure that the financial products you invest in are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

FAQ

Who can open an ISA?

Anyone who is a UK resident and is over the age of 18 can open an ISA account. The exception to this rule is crown employees abroad and their spouses or civil partners.

Can you have more than one ISA?

You can have more than one ISA across different providers. There is no limit to how many ISAs you can have. But you may wonder, ‘How many ISAs can you open in a year’. The current rules state that you can only open one of each type of ISA account each tax year.

Can I pay into two different ISAs in the same year?

Yes, you can pay into two different ISAs in the same tax year as long as it is one of each type of ISA. So, for example, you can pay into a cash ISA, stocks and shares ISA, and lifetime ISA in the same tax year as long as the total amount does not exceed the ISA allowance.

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*Capital at risk. Tax treatment depends on your individual circumstances and may be subject to change in the future.