Lifetime ISA: A Complete Guide

Lifetime ISA: A Complete Guide

Written by Animesh Prasad

The journey on which Animesh embarked to become an engineer ended up with him becoming a content writer. As he progressed to his final year, he realized engineering isn't really his forte and pursued his love for writing. Taking this ahead he now works as a content writer at UniCreds.

UK

May 3, 2021

Let me guess. You heard about LISA from someone, maybe a friend, and just got a vague idea that everyone below the age of 40 SHOULD invest in this. Now you know this is something really good but you’re looking for detailed information on the internet, right? If you’re reading this article then be rest assured that you’ve arrived at the correct place. This blog – ‘Lifetime ISA: A Complete Guide’ – has everything that you need to know about the newfound precious savings strategy. At the end of the article, depending on your financial situation and age you could confidently take the decision of whether to take out a LISA or not. 

A recent study showed that approximately 40% of students didn’t know about LISA and only 13% of them had one. You could be missing out on an absolute bonus (free money from the state) of a maximum of £32,000 at the age of 50 if you don’t know about this. I take up the responsibility of educating you, so let’s dive in. 

What Is A Lifetime ISA?

An ISA (Individual Savings Account) is a bank account that allows you to save cash tax-free each year. Now, Lifetime ISA (also known as LISA) is a type of ISA created to help young people save for their first home or retirement. If you take out a Lifetime ISA, the government will give you a bonus worth 25% of what you pay in, up to a set limit, every tax year. Plus you earn interest on whatever you save. Since it’s an ISA, that interest is tax-free. Primarily, this is the government’s way of helping young people get on the property ladder. 

How Does A Lifetime ISA Work?

  • Once you have opened a Lifetime ISA, you can put a maximum of  £4,000 each tax year, until you’re 50. 
  • You will be receiving a 25% bonus from the government for each tax year. In accordance with the maximum deposit amount, you can earn a maximum bonus of  £1,000 per year.
  • You can open a Lifetime ISA, a cash LISA, a stocks and shares ISA and an innovative finance ISA in each tax year.
  • The money in your LISA cannot be used unless it’s to buy your first home or if you’re aged 60 or over. 
  • You can combine your LISA with a partner to buy a house.

best lifetime ISA

Example: 

If you deposit £2,000 into your Lifetime ISA, the government will add an extra £500. This would leave you with £2,500 at the end of the tax year. 

Similarly, if you deposit £4,000 into your Lifetime ISA, the government will add an extra £1,000. This would leave you with £5,000 at the end of the tax year.

But it is not all sweet and lucrative. Remember that if you withdraw the money early (i.e. before age 60 without putting it towards your first house) you’ll be charged a 25% fee (equivalent to losing your 25% bonus and a fine of 6.25% on what’s left).

Recommended Reading: Affordable and Cheap Car Insurance For Students

Who Can Get A Lifetime ISA?

In order to open a Lifetime ISA you need to be:

  • between the age of 18 and 40
  • a UK resident or a Crown servant (for example, a member of the armed forces serving abroad).

You are free to open a Lifetime ISA with any bank, Lifetime ISA providers or investment manager that offer the product.

You can continue paying into a Lifetime ISA until you are 50. After age 50 you will not be able to pay into your Lifetime ISA or earn the 25% bonus. However, your account will still stay open earning interest or investment returns.

Clearly, Lifetime ISAs are a great saving option for anyone who is thinking about securing their future. Students and graduates should definitely consider opening one. It also inculcates a habit of setting aside a sum of money from earnings every year which is appreciable. 

What Can Lifetime ISA Be Used For? 

Money can be withdrawn from LISA (without being charged) only in three instances:

  1. Buying for your first house
  2. Saving for retirement
  3. Or if you have a terminal disease and have less than 12 months to live. (Unfortunately, I had to mention it)

Buying Your First House

buying house using lifetime ISA

LISA can help you buy your first house if:

  • You need to be buying a UK residential property costing £450,000 or less – buy to let does not count. 
  • You must have never owned a property before (anywhere in the world).

The LISA must have been open for a year or more before it can be used – so it’s worth opening one even if you aren’t yet ready to save. Note that the money will be paid directly to the conveyancer/solicitor dealing with your new home. 

Saving For Retirement

Most people will opt for this only when they don’t utilise the LISA for buying the property. Thus, this is a great way to hold onto your bonus money.  In this case, you don’t have to do anything. Just that you cannot withdraw all or part of the cash from the ISA until your 60th birthday.

Which Banks Offer Best Lifetime ISA?

As LISA was launched in April 2017, not many banks have taken the effort to start a LISA and offer them to the public but these are the ones that did. 

Best Cash Lifetime ISAs  

These are the banks that offer the best Cash Lifetime ISA interest rates.

best lifetime ISA providers
  1. Moneybox Lifetime ISA
  • Minimum Investment: £1
  • Interest Paid: Monthly
  • How To Access: App 

Moneybox offers the highest interest rate (0.85% for the first year and 0.5% after that) and is tagged along with an extremely user-friendly app. It is super easy to use and will take only minutes to open an account. 

  1. Skipon Building Society
  • Minimum Investment: £1
  • Interest Paid: Annually 
  • How To Access: App

Skipon Building Society was the first provider of Cash LISA. Its interest rate is a paltry 0.5% and is accessible online. 

Stocks and Shares Lifetime ISA

Hargreaves Lansdown, The Share Centre, Nutmeg and AJ Bell are a few companies that offer some good stocks and shares Lifetime ISA.

Hope this guide helped you in getting all the answers you seek regarding LISA. Good Luck!

Thank you for reading this blog on ‘Lifetime ISA: A Complete Guide’. If you enjoyed reading this blog then do check our other blogs as well.

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