Everything you need to know about Junior ISA transfers

How do Junior ISA transfers work?
Children with their mum | Wealthify
Reading time: 12 mins

As parents, we all want what’s best for our children, especially on the financial side of things. But giving your kid the best future possible can require a lot of planning. So where should you start? Well, paying into a Junior ISA could be a great way to get the ball rolling. With a Junior ISA, or JISA, you can save or invest for your child in a tax-friendly way. And the good thing about it is that you can  transfer your child’s account if you’re not satisfied with your Junior ISA provider. Here’s everything you need to know about Junior ISA transfers.

 

What is a Junior ISA?
Before we dive into Junior ISA transfers, let’s briefly recap on how Junior ISAs work. Junior ISAs, also known as Child ISAs, are a great tax-efficient way to put money aside for your child. In other words, with a Junior ISA, your child doesn’t pay tax on any profits they make, meaning they can keep more of their potential gains.

Now, Junior ISAs come with many different rules worth knowing. Firstly, the amount you can put in a Junior ISA is limited, and currently, the Junior ISA allowance for the 2020/21 tax year is £9,000. Put very simply, £9,000 is the maximum sum you can save or invest for your child tax-free within a tax year. And you’ve got until midnight on the 5th April to use it, otherwise you’ll lose it forever. Your child’s ISA allowance cannot be carried over, so if you want to maximise their savings, it could be worth putting in as much as you can before the tax year ends.

Secondly, everything you put in a Junior ISA is locked away and belongs exclusively to your child. Nobody, not even you, can dip into their pot, which gives your kid’s money a better chance to grow. Your child will get full control over their account when they turn 18. The money will be theirs, and they’ll be able to decide what to do with it, whether it’s withdrawing some or all of it, or converting their Junior ISA into an Adult ISA to save a bit more.

 

Can your child have more than one Junior ISA?
Your child can have a Junior Cash ISA, or a Junior Stocks and Shares ISA, or both. But unlike Adult ISAs where you can open a new account each tax year, your child is only able to have one of each type throughout their whole childhood.

So, how do you choose the right account for your kid? Well, you may want to do some research and look into the characteristics of each JISA type before making any decision.

A Junior Cash ISA simply works like a cash savings account where your child is guaranteed to get their money back, plus a bit of interest. The only difference is that everything they earn is tax-free.

With a Junior Stocks and Shares ISA, or Junior Investment ISA, your child’s money is typically invested, and your kid won’t pay any income or capital gains tax on their profits - they’ll keep all their returns, minus fees and charges. Obviously, investing comes with some risk, and returns aren’t guaranteed, meaning there’s a chance your child could lose some money. However, since your child’s profits aren’t tied to any fixed interest rate, as they would in a Junior Cash ISA, there’s also a chance they could earn higher returns in the long run. In fact, evidence shows that investments tend to beat cash over the long-term. According to a Barclays Equity Gilt Study, shares kept for any 10-year period since 1899, have had a 91% of outperforming cash1.

If you decide to open a Junior Cash ISA and a Junior Stocks and Shares ISA, it’s important to note that you’ll need to split your child’s ISA allowance across the two accounts, but you have flexibility in how you do this. For instance, you could opt for an even 50/50 split between investment and cash. Or you could put 30% in cash and 70% in stocks – it’s up to you (and potentially your child).

 

What is a Junior ISA transfer?
Although your child can only ever have one Junior Cash ISA and one Junior Stocks and Shares ISA, you’re allowed to transfer their account to another provider. In practice, this means moving any money you’ve built up in previous tax years to a new provider, whilst preserving the tax-efficient status of the account. Junior ISA transfers can be done between two Junior Cash ISAs, or two Junior Stocks and Shares ISAs, and it’s also possible to transfer a Junior Cash ISA to a Junior Stocks and Shares ISA, and vice versa.

 

Why transfer a Junior ISA?
There are many reasons why you might consider transferring a Junior ISA to another provider. Say, you’re unhappy with the service you’re getting from your current provider, and you’ve found better interest rates elsewhere, then perhaps transferring your Junior ISA could be a wise thing to do. Similarly, if you think you’re paying too much in investment fees, you could look for another Junior Stocks and Shares provider.

Also, if you’re tired of low interest rates and want your child’s money to work a bit harder, it could be a good idea to transfer their Junior Cash ISA, or part of it, to a Junior Stocks and Shares ISA. With a Junior Cash ISA, your child is guaranteed to make a profit, making it a relatively safe option to build wealth over time. However, this is only half of the picture! Over the years, prices of goods and services tend to increase – we call this inflation. And every time your child’s interest rate falls below the rate of inflation, their savings will lose purchasing power, meaning they may not be able to afford as much as they once could when they take their money out. So, it may be wise to consider other options to try and boost their finances. With a Junior Stocks and Shares ISA, there’s no fixed interest rate, and instead, returns are dependent on how much the investments are worth when they’re sold. So, your child could lose money, but they could also enjoy inflation-beating returns. Many studies show that over the long-term, the likelihood of making a gain increases. In fact, the longer your child remains invested, the better chance they have to make a profit. So, if time is on your side and you’re comfortable taking some risk with your child’s money, then it could be worth transferring some of your Junior Cash ISA to a Junior Stocks and Shares ISA?

 

What are the rules when transferring a Junior ISA?
When it comes to transferring a Junior ISA, there are some rules you’ve got to be aware of:

  • You must be the registered contact for the account to be able to transfer your child’s Junior ISA.
  • Transfers between the same type of Junior ISA should always be done in full – this is because your child can only have one Junior Cash ISA and one Junior Stocks and Shares ISA.
  • If you’re transferring a Junior Cash ISA to a Junior Stocks and Shares ISAs, or vice versa, you can choose to transfer the balance in full or in part.
  • Transferring a Junior Stocks and Shares ISA to a Junior Cash ISA requires your investments to be sold, so they can be converted into cash. This means you could find yourself with less money than you initially put in if the value of your investments were down during the sale.
  • For every transfer you make, you must complete the official Junior ISA transfer form, otherwise your Child ISA will lose its tax-efficient status. This form should be given to you by your new provider, if not, remember to ask for it and don’t move or withdraw anything until you’ve completed this form.
  • Some providers will charge a penalty for transferring out before a certain date, so make sure you check the transfer policy of your current provider.
  • Also, some providers will take a fee for transferring Junior ISAs in – something worth keeping in mind when looking for a new provider.

Fees and charges aside, there’s no limit to how frequently you can transfer a Junior ISA. All you need to do is make sure you use the official transfer form and check that your child only has one of each type of account.

 

Will Junior ISA transfers affect your child’s allowance?
When you transfer a Junior ISA to another provider, you’re typically carrying money built up in previous years to a new account, and this won’t have any impact on your child’s current allowance – the amount you can put in the account will depend on how much you’ve already paid in in the current tax year. For instance, say you opened a Junior ISA in May 2018 and managed to save £6,000 in total. If you’re transferring the account and haven’t used any of the 2020/21 JISA allowance yet, you’ll still be able to contribute up to £9,000 in your child’s account after the transfer is completed. However, if you’ve saved £3,000 in the current tax year (2020/21), you’ll only be able to put up to £6,000 in the Junior ISA.

 

Can you transfer a Child Trust Fund?
Just like Junior ISAs, Child Trust Funds (CTFs) let you save or invest for your kid in a tax-efficient way as they keep the government’s hands off any gains your child can make. CTFs were introduced in April 2005 to help parents give their child a financial head-start in life, but six years later, they were replaced by Junior ISAs. Although you can’t open any new CTF, you can still pay into an existing one as long as you don’t go over the annual limit, which is the exact same as the Junior ISA allowance.

Since CTFs and Junior ISAs are very similar, your child cannot have both! And the only way to open a Junior ISA is to transfer your CTF to a JISA provider. To ensure the transfer is successful, you must move the balance from your CTF in full using the official transfer form. Upon completion, your CTF will be closed and your child’s savings will sit in a brand-new Junior ISA.

If you’ve lost track of a CTF, don’t worry, it’s possible and very easy to get hold of it. Simply visit the HMRC website2, log in using your Government Gateway credentials, or renew your details if you can’t remember them. Then, you’ll find an online form to complete and send back, and within three weeks, you’ll receive a letter for the HMRC telling you who your CTF provider is.

 

How to find the best Junior ISA for your child
Finding the best Junior ISA for your child can be quite subjective. Some people may focus their attention on performance, whilst others may consider accessibility and flexibility. So, when it comes to finding the best Junior ISA, it’s important to know what you want from it. Do you want to provide your child with inflation-beating returns? Or are you looking to build up an emergency fund for them?

The way you answer these questions will help you decide which JISA is best, but also which type to go for. For instance, if you want to provide your child with emergency savings, then a Junior Cash ISA may be a good option. Alternatively, if your aim is to give your child’s money a chance to grow over the long-term, then a Junior Stocks and Shares ISA could help.

If you want to find the best Junior ISA for your child, here are a few things to consider when shopping around:

  • Why do you want to open a Junior ISA?
  • How old is your child?
  • How much can you afford to put aside?
  • What are the interest rates provided, and are they fixed?
  • Are you comfortable with taking some risk to build your child’s nest egg?
  • How much are you willing to pay in fees?
  • How simple is it to set up a JISA with that provider?
  • What do other customers think of them?
  • How good is their customer care team?
  • Are there any offers you could take advantage of?

When looking for a Junior ISA, make sure you do your research and know what you’re looking for. After all, you’re the only one who knows what the ‘best Junior ISA’ for your needs looks like.

 

How to choose your Junior Stocks and Shares ISA provider
If you’ve decided to open a Junior Stocks and Shares ISA for your kid, it’s important to try and find a provider that suits you and your child. And the only way to do this is to shop around and compare what different providers have to offer.

A good place to start would be to look at the fees taken by each provider. This is not always well understood, but fees and charges can eat into your child’s profits, so you want to try and keep them to a minimum. It’s not only about keeping fees low, it’s also about looking at the services being offered by each provider. Junior ISAs aren’t built equally, and before you make your decision, you’ll need to ask yourself how you want your child’s money to be invested.

Some investment services will let you pick your child’s investments and manage their plan. Whilst these DIY platforms put you in the driver’s seat, you’ll need at least some basic knowledge about investing and financial markets. And obviously, doing it all on your own can be time-consuming.

Other investment services, known as robo investing platforms, will do the hard work for you. This is exactly what we’re doing at Wealthify. Our experts will build your child’s Junior ISA and manage their investments on an ongoing basis, that way you can spend more time with your little one and less time researching potential investments.

 

How do you transfer a Junior ISA?
Transferring a Junior ISA is easier than you may think! Once you’ve found a new provider, let them know you want to transfer a Junior ISA in. There may be a form included on their website, or you might need to contact them directly over the phone or by email. The important thing here is the Junior ISA transfer form. You’ll need to complete this form before you move your child’s money, otherwise the Junior ISA will lose its tax-efficient status. If everything is filled out correctly, then your new provider will organise everything and move your money over for you.

Depending on your old provider and the type of Junior ISA you’re transferring, it could take several weeks before the money hits the new account. Generally, transferring a Junior Cash ISA to a new provider typically takes up to 15 days. However, if you’re transferring a Junior Stocks and Shares ISA or moving money between two different types of Junior ISA, you could expect the transfer to take a bit longer. Make sure to keep an eye on the transfer though and give your old provider a nudge if they’re taking too long to move the money out. Once the transfer is completed, you may want to check everything is the new account. And if it all went as it should, then you can relax and let your child’s money work hard for them.

 

References:

1:  https://moneyweek.com/505257/stocks-beat-cash-and-bonds-over-the-long-term

2: https://www.gov.uk/child-trust-funds

 

Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results.

 

The tax treatment depends on your individual circumstances and may be subject to change in the future.

 

Please remember the value of your investments can go down as well as up, and you could get back less than invested.

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