Help to Buy Isas: which account should I get?

The main reason for getting one is the £3,000 contribution to your savings from the Treasury, but finding an account paying a decent interest rate will also help you reach your deposit goal faster.

Thankfully, the rates on Hisas compare very favourably with other Cash Isas. You'll struggle to 1.5% on an instant access Isa, but plenty of Hisas pay 2% or more. 

It’s arguably fairer to compare them with regular savings accounts, as you’ll be growing your deposit over time. Even on this basis, Hisa rates are far better. Some borrowers can still get Hisas that pay 3% AER, dwarfing rates on even the best regular saver Isas. And that's before you've considered the government bonus. 

But there’s huge variation between the rates on offer, so shopping around for the best rate is even more important than normal. If you save the full allowance, by the time you’ve saved the £12,000 to earn the maximum £3,000 bonus, you’ll earn £1,525 interest with the market leader – but if you opt for an account in the middle of the pack you’ll get just half that.

All the products announced so far give you instant access if you need it, but you’ll forfeit / postpone the 25% top up.

They’ll all let you transfer-in too, so if you’ve started a Cash Isa this year you can switch the balance over to any account listed here.

If you’ve saved more than the £1,200 limit this year, consider an account that lets you hold a second Cash Isa like Nationwide or Natwest. Or alternatively, you could close the first account and reopen another. If you do that, anything you’ve already put into an Isa will come out of your allowance for the year.

Where can you get the best deal? 

Penrith Building Society – 3% AER

The top rate available to new customers, providing you live in the catchment area.

Tipton & Coseley Building Society – 3% AER

Only available to residents of the West Midlands.

Cumberland Building Society – 2.75% AER

Recently cut from 3%, but still better than most if you can get your hands on one.

Darlington Building Society – 2.55% AER

Available only to local residents and existing customers.

Barclays – 2.27% AER

The UK’s strongest nationally available deal. Also allows monthly interest payments, which can be useful if you want to switch of close the account early.

Buckinghamshire Building Society – 2.25% AER

Virgin Money – 2% AER

Back-to-back rate cuts from Virgin mean this one doesn’t stand out any more, but it’s still far more generous than an instant access Isa.  It has launched an additional ‘save to buy’ account if you can save more than £200 a month, but that’s not tax-free, and better rates are out there.

Halifax – 2% AER

Halifax has cut its rates twice for new customers since launching in December. If you managed to snap up an account before August your rate will be higher than 2%, though it will be cut from 8 December - this said, you'll still get marginally better rates than available on the rest of the market now. 

Nationwide – 2% AER

If you can save more than £200 a month this is worth considering as it’s one of a few providers that lets you keep the rest inside an additional Cash Isa. It’s available online, in branch and over the phone.

NatWest – 2% AER

Like Nationwide, it’ll let you put extra cash into another Isa, and at the same rate. Get it in branch, phone or online.

HSBC – 2% AER

Available in branch, by phone or online.

Progressive Building Society – 2% AER

Northern Irish Building Society Progressive was recently paying 2.75% to new Hisa holders, but those signing up for the first time can only get 2% now. It's only available to Northern Ireland residents or existing customers. 

Yorkshire / Clydesdale Bank – 2% AER

Improved from 0.7% AER.

Yorkshire Building Society – 2% AER

Aldermore – 1.75% AER

Available by post, by phone or online.

Santander – 1.5% AER

Despite previously offering 4% (which will be honoured for people who signed up to that deal), Santander pays a paltry 1.5% to new customers, though people with a 123 Account will get a slightly more generous 2%.

Bank of Scotland – 1.5% AER

Branch, phone and online.

Lloyds Bank – 1.5% AER

Available in branch, phone or online.

Newcastle Building Society – 1.26% AER

You’ll only get the advertised rate if you add to your savings every month. Otherwise the rate drops to 0.26% AER. You can get it by branch, post or online.