Our ISA guide

What is an ISA?

ISA stands for individual savings account. ISAs are an efficient way to save and invest as you pay little or no tax on the interest you earn up to the annual ISA allowance.

It’s important to remember that ISA allowance limits apply to everyone on an individual basis, so if you’re married or in a relationship, you can both hold your own ISA, each with the full allowance.

Types of ISA

There are four types of ISAs available but not all providers will offer each one:

Cash ISAs - Simple, tax-free savings accounts. Certain types of cash ISAs give you instant access to your money, making them a flexible way to plan your finances.

Stocks and shares ISAs - These are classed as tax efficient investments, intended as a medium to long-term investment, meaning they should be held for at least 5 years.

Innovative finance ISA - Peer-to-peer lending investments that are classed as tax efficient investments.

Lifetime ISA - Lifetime ISAs can be classed either as tax-free savings or tax-efficient investments.   

Choosing an ISA

We offer one type of cash ISA, an instant access variable interest rate account where interest rates can move up or down.

Making payments and withdrawals

Paying money into an ISA

Paying into an ISA is called subscribing. You can subscribe to one of each type of ISAs each tax year, providing between them you do not subscribe more than your annual ISA allowance. For the current tax year that runs from the 6th April to 5th April your annual allowance is £20,000.

To subscribe to a cash ISA you must:

  • Be aged 16 or over
  • Be a UK resident for tax purposes
  • Have not subscribed to another cash ISA in the same tax year

Help to Buy: ISA is a type of cash ISA and we allow you to pay into both a Ulster Bank regular cash ISA and a Ulster Bank Help to Buy: ISA during the same tax year, providing between the two you do not exceed your overall annual ISA allowance. You can pay into both, as we count them as one overall cash ISA subscription.

With a Help to Buy: ISA you can pay in up to £200 per calendar month. Any amount paid into a Help to Buy: ISA counts towards your overall annual ISA allowance.

Making withdrawals

Our instant access Cash ISA doesn't offer Flexible ISA functionality, so if you withdraw funds from it, you can't reinvest in the same tax year if your total deposits exceed your annual allowance.

For example: The ISA allowance is £20,000. If you pay £16,000 into your cash ISA and take out £500, you can only save up to £19,500 by the end of the tax year.

For Help to Buy: ISAs, you can pay in a maximum of £200 per month, so for example if you pay in £150 and then take out £50, you can only deposit another £50 that month.

What you could do with your ISA

Make further deposits

If you have a variable rate cash ISA, you can keep paying into it for as long as you like, providing you don’t go over your yearly ISA allowance. However, if you don’t pay into it for an entire tax year, you’ll need to reactivate your account before making your next deposit. 

Reactivate your Cash ISA

You can reactivate your cash ISA in the mobile app or online banking - just click the 'Help' button and ask to 'reactivate my ISA'. Your ISA will be reactivated the next working day.

Transfer a Cash ISA

You can only have one cash ISA per tax year. If you want to move your current or previous cash ISA balances between providers, there’s a transfer process that safeguards your tax-free entitlement. Transfers can take up to 7 working days.

To transfer any existing ISA to us, take a look at our dedicated ISA transfer page.

Transfer a Stocks and Shares ISA to a Cash ISA

Transfers from stocks and shares ISAs to cash ISA take up to 30 calendar days to be completed and your existing stocks and shares ISA provider will sell your investments and send the cash to your new cash ISA provider.  Your new cash ISA provider will then apply the cash to your account, keeping it within the ISA wrapper.  

As with cash ISA transfers if you want to move current or previous tax years balances there’s a transfer process that safeguards your tax efficient entitlement.

What to do next

If you already subscribe to an ISA, you can keep saving in your existing ISA in the new tax year, or open a new ISA. You can only subscribe to one cash ISA per tax year. Don’t forget the tax year ends on 5 April – make sure you take advantage of this years’ allowance before it’s too late.

You will normally need the following information when setting up an ISA:

  • Your National Insurance number
  • One form of evidence of your identity (a current passport, full UK driving licence, a benefit book or a UK armed forces identity card)
  • One form of evidence of your address (an original gas, electricity, phone or council tax bill, an original bank or building society statement)

All documents should be the most recent you have, and from within the last six months.

Something else we can help you with?