How to pick the right ISA for you, without stress and confusion

Uncertain times mean research is crucial (Picture: Getty Images)

There are more Isa options than ever and with bad news on humanitarian, geopolitical and economic fronts, it feels nigh on impossible to know what lies ahead.

When you’re picking an Isa, you need to ask yourself some crucial questions. How much effort are you prepared to put into selecting investments? Would you prefer someone to choose for you?

Do you need to be able to manage it on your phone? And how important is it that is matches your ethical and moral values?

Here are my tips to help you navigate the Isa jungle…

Cash or stocks and shares?

You have to be quite brutal here. Current interest rates are tiny and inflation is soaring. That means cash is not a good store of value. In fact, you’re probably losing money in real terms.

I think that anyone saving with a five year-plus window should be at least considering a stocks and shares Isa.

Also, if you’re under 40 and saving for a first home, do read up on Lifetime Isas. For every £4,000 you save each year, you get a free top-up of £1,000 from the Government.

Do you want to be hands-on?

Do you want to call the shots and pick investments or are you hoping that some friendly boffin will do it for you?

Both are fine – but don’t go to a traditional platform if you want someone to do it all for you, look at a robo adviser instead. They will help you decide on the right portfolio and provide ready made options.

Holly Mackay is CEO and Founder of Boring Money, and an expert in helping find the ISA for you

If you like the idea of choosing funds and shares, then Hargreaves Lansdown, interactive investor and AJ Bell are the biggest players in town.

If you would rather watch paint dry than spend time researching investments, then check out robo advisers such as Moneybox, Nutmeg or Wealthify who will package up suitable options on your behalf.

Do you want your money to be invested sustainably?

More of us do want our investments to be sustainable. We asked more than 1,500 investors and 74% said they thought it was important for investment companies to offer investments that contributed to environmental, social and economic sustainability.

If this is important to you then you could look at Clim8, a new-ish app that manages your investment for environmental impact. The Big Exchange is a financial cousin to The Big Issue and provides socially responsible and impact investments that you can match to your priorities.

Interactive investor probably has the best lists of funds, which you can blend and choose yourself.

Do read up on how your money is managed in practice – there is a lot of ‘greenwashing’ out there.

What are the fees?

Most DIY investment Isas will cost about 1% a year all-in, although it depends on what you put in your basket.

If you want a low-cost, simple option then Vanguard will give you an all-in, ready-made investment Isa for about 0.35% a year. That’s £3.50 a year on a £1,000 amount.

If you fancy trading, Freetrade has a fixed £3 monthly fee on Isas but lets you trade at no cost inside the Isa.

AJ Bell Youinvest is decently priced for starter-level portfolios and offers a range of funds and shares you can choose, or some ready-made options for the less confident.

Barclays offers probably the best stocks and shares Isas (Picture: Getty Images)


A lot of people want their Isa to feel accessible and easy to monitor. We may not want all the detail, but seeing at a glance how much we have in our account, and how it’s doing, can be important.

Some of the big banks offer stocks and shares Isas (Barclays is probably the best) and you can see this when you log onto online banking, which can be handy.

As cyber security becomes increasingly important, I think there is some peace of mind in going with the bigger, more established brands who should have super-stringent protections in place. There is typically a trade-off between peace of mind here, and slightly less flashy apps.

Find out what others think

It can be helpful to read what other investors think. Websites like ours at Boring Money include comparison tables that help you sort Isa providers by cost, ease of use and more.

We also have thousands of reviews showing what others are saying about each provider. The world of online investing looks radically different to how it did just two or three years ago.

And you do not need to be an expert to make some sensible choices. Have a look – you might be pleasantly surprised.

Holly Mackay is CEO and Founder of Boring Money, an independent website that tests and reviews DIY investing providers.

If you want more tips and tricks on saving money, as well as chat about cash and alerts on deals and discounts, join our Facebook Group, Money Pot.

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