Cash ISA countdown ñ 5th April 2012 deadline!

The race is on as banks and lenders scramble to promote their ISA accounts as the market leader. With only a matter of days to go until the beginning of a new tax year the fight for consumer cash is well underway.

Whichever cash ISA you decide to take out, compare ISAís with Money Expert.

There are a number of things to consider when looking for a new cash ISA account. Firstly, you will need to think about how much youíre looking to save and for how long. Do you want to have the ability to dip into your ISA or lock away your cash for a fixed amount of time?

There are a number of options to suit all circumstances, however, ultimately when it comes to looking for ISA accounts one of the most important factors will be how much interest you can expect in return.

According to research from a price comparison website, the average ISA rate is at 3.03% which is a 7% increase compared to this time last year. This might provide potential savers with some relief in the midst of the weak economy and historically low base rate.

Almost a fifth of Brits canít afford to save and so have not used up their full allowance for this year. However, nearly one in seven people plan on saving into an ISA before the tax year ends next month.
 
In March 2010, Consumer Focus issued a super complaint about the cash ISA market to the Office of Fair Trading after discovering that consumer were losing out due to the poor transfer process. This meant that providers were inhibiting the switching of ISA accounts. Since then the OFT has reviewed this and people will now find it easier to switch their ISA accounts.

We look at some of the top cash ISAs on offer.

5 year ISA Saver Fixed

The five-year fixed rate ISA from Halifax offers one of the highest rates on the market at 4.5%. Halifax has a range of fixed rate ISA accounts from one to five years. Interest starts from 2.25%. To be eligible for this ISA account there is a minimum investment of £500.00. This minimum amount also applies to the three and four year fixed Cash ISAs, which have a gross rate of 4.25% and 4.35% respectively.

If you are looking for an ISA account with easy access, and ones which pay out in the first 12 months, there are also a number of available options.

The AA Savings Internet Access account requires quite a large deposit of £2, 500. With this account you cannot transfer savings into your Cash Isa from other banks or building society. This account does have a rate of 3.50%

Cheshire Building Society ISA

Cheshire Building Society is offering an18 month fixed rate cash ISA with a market leading 4%, for balances of £1,000 or over. The Direct Fixed Rate ISA can be opened either online or by phone and is open to new subscriptions only with a minimum balance of £1,000.

Interest is paid on maturity and is paid back into the account. This account might not be ideal for those who wish to make withdrawals as it is not permitted during the term of the account. Closures can be made, but then this is subject to 180 days loss of interest. There is also a maximum amount of savings which would be £5,340.

Matthew Wyles, Nationwide’s Group Distribution Director, said: “There isn’t much time left for consumers to make use of their full ISA allowance. Oneway savers could make good use of part of that allowance is to take advantage of the fixed rate ISA products available. The Cheshire Direct Fixed Rate ISA is certainly an attractive option for savers.î
 
“Of course, not everyone will want to lock away their money for 18 months, which is why we launched a market-leading easy access ISA – the Cheshire Direct Cash ISA – last week. So whether you want a competitive rate over a longer term, or wish to have instant access, the Cheshire Building Society has options available.”
 
NatWest Cash e-ISA

The e-ISA from NatWest current has a special offer available where there is an introductory bonus of 1% after 12 months. This account could be a great introduction to the wonderful world of ISAs as you can enjoy tax-free savings by opening an account with just £1.

You could earn 3% AER variable rate to 3.5% tax free savings and transfers are allowed in, which lets you bring together your savings into one place. The bonus is added to the standard variable interest rate which is 2.985 and starts from the 15thor 16th day of the month the account is opened.

Whichever cash ISA you decide to take out, compare ISAís with Money Expert.

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