How and Where to Get an ISA

An overview of where to find the most suitable ISA options for your personal saving and investing needs

Alanna Petroff 11 March, 2013 | 6:37PM
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This article is part of the special series, Investing with ISAs.

People across the UK have many different options available to them when they are looking to open a new ISA account. Various banks, retailers, fund providers and investment advisers offer different kinds of ISA accounts for different kinds of customers.

In many cases, the ISA options can feel overwhelming, but with a little bit of research and due diligence, finding a suitable ISA account shouldn't be too difficult. Below is some basic information about how to find and open both cash ISA accounts and stocks and shares ISA accounts:

Accounts for Cash ISAs

If you're looking to open a cash ISA account, you will want to look for an account that offers a decent interest rate. In many cases, the more money you invest, the higher the rate of interest you will be paid. Currently, interest rates are extremely low, so you would be very lucky to find an interest rate anywhere above 3%. Also, keep in mind that many ISAs offer variable interest rates, while others offer fixed rates.

ISA savers will also want to consider how important it is to get their money out of their account at a moment's notice. Many cash ISA accounts have been known to pay higher interest rates if savers agree to lock in their money for a specified period of time, or if the savers agree to tell the provider in advance when they want to withdraw their money.

For many people, it may seem suitable to simply open a cash ISA account with their bank. This will help them keep tabs on their money more easily and avoid forgetting about their account over the years. The application process will probably also be quicker. But before you open an ISA account with your bank, be sure it's suitable for your saving and investment needs and be sure that you're not simply settling for the account for the sake of convenience, but missing out on great offers elsewhere., and are some well-known websites that allow you to compare different cash ISAs to find one that is suitable for you. Furthermore, offers information about ISA customer satisfaction, which could help guide you towards ISA accounts that will be easier to manage.

Accounts for Stocks and Shares ISAs

Stocks and shares ISA accounts are offered by banks, fund providers, fund supermarkets, discount brokers and various other companies operating in the financial services sector.

Investors use these accounts to invest in sharesfundsinvestment trustsETFs and/or bonds. Some providers offer access to various types of funds and investment products, while other providers only offer their in-house funds and products. Investors should consider whether it's important to them to have access to a wide selection of products, or just a narrow range, before they open an ISA account.

Many stocks and shares ISA providers will levy a number of charges on these accounts, and investors should ensure they know what charges to expect before they open an account. Some of the most common charges include annual fees, initial or opening fees, exit fees and trading fees. If you're a last-minute type of investor, it's also nice to know that many ISA providers and platforms offer lower fees and investment deals in the weeks leading up to the annual ISA contribution deadline on April 5th.

Some funds that are held within ISAs will also require that investors contribute a minimum initial amount and/or contribute a regular monthly sum into the investment. If this will be difficult for you, start looking for other products that provide more flexibility.

Sites such as and will help you assess the different options available. Meanwhile, Fidelity, Hargreaves Lansdown, BestInvest, The Share Centre, Alliance Trust Savings and Barclays Stockbrokers are amongst the best known ISA platforms in the UK, offering investors access to a range of different investment options. Other well-know companies that offer stocks and shares ISAs include Virgin MoneyF&C, Chelsea Financial Services and JP Morgan Asset Management.

The information contained within is for educational and informational purposes ONLY. It is not intended nor should it be considered an invitation or inducement to buy or sell a security or securities noted within nor should it be viewed as a communication intended to persuade or incite you to buy or sell security or securities noted within. Any commentary provided is the opinion of the author and should not be considered a personalised recommendation. The information contained within should not be a person's sole basis for making an investment decision. Please contact your financial professional before making an investment decision.

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About Author

Alanna Petroff

Alanna Petroff  is a financial journalist with Morningstar UK.

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