Can You Have More Than One Stocks and Shares ISA?

Keep reading to learn all there is to know about stocks and shares ISAs.

Updated: June 13, 2024
Matt Crabtree

Written By

Matt Crabtree

|
Rebecca Goodman

Edited By

Rebecca Goodman

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The idea of a stocks and shares ISA is to give UK residents a savings account that is tax efficient. But there are rules around how to use these ISAs to keep them tax free.

If you break the rules, you might find yourself facing a penalty. And if you follow the rules, you get to experience the tax advantages and save money that will go towards your savings goals.

One of the most common questions asked about a stocks and share ISA is whether you can have more than one.

The answer is yes, but there are more details to know than that. In this guide, we will break it down for you with a comprehensive overview of how an ISA works, whether you can have more than one, and what the limitations are. 

What is a stocks and shares ISA?

The acronym ISA stands for Individual Savings Account. This savings account is designed to allow you to invest or deposit money without paying tax on the account. It is specific to the UK area and has been around since 1999. 

There are different types of ISAs, which include the following:

  • Cash ISAs
  • Stocks and shares ISAs
  • Innovative finance ISAs
  • Junior ISAs
  • Lifetime ISAs

Here, we will focus on stocks and shares ISAs, but they all operate under the same rules and requirements. You can put money into one specific ISA every single year, up to the allotted amount for that tax year.

You only qualify for an ISA account if you are a resident of the UK or you are a crown servant or civil partner. 

In the 2024/2025 tax year, the allowable deposit for stocks and shares ISAs is up to £20,000. The amount is different for other ISAs, such as the Lifetime ISA which has a £4,000 yearly limit.

As a stocks and shares ISA is a way to invest with tax benefits, and with any type of investment there's a degree of risk you need to be comfortable with. Always keep in mind that returns are never guaranteed.

The rules of a stocks and shares ISA

If you’re going to open a stocks and shares ISA, familiarise yourself with some of the rules that you need to be aware of first. If you over contribute, you could run into issues. In addition, you can only contribute to one of each type of ISA in a single year. 

For example, if you have three different stocks and shares ISAs and two cash ISAs, you can split your funds into one cash ISA and one stocks and shares ISA. However, you may only make one contribution into each one type of ISA in a single year.

To clarify, you can’t contribute to all three stocks and shares ISAs in one year, just one of them.

But you can contribute some to your cash ISA and some to your stocks and shares ISA, as long as you stay within the annual limit. 

Junior ISAs

Junior ISAs are separated from adult ISAs and have a different allowance amount as well. If an adult contributes the full £20,000 to their own ISA, they can also contribute up to £9,000 to any of their children’s ISAs in the same year.

A junior ISA is for those who are under the age of 18. A person over 16 can sometimes open their own ISA as well. 

A parent or guardian can begin contributing to a Junior ISA on behalf of their child at any time of their life. The allowable limits for contributions to these accounts can also change, but it is currently £9,000. 

When the junior child turns 18, they can transfer their Junior ISA to a traditional ISA or access it as their own. At that time, they can begin contributing on their own as well. The same tax allowances and contribution rules apply. 

Tax provisions for stocks and shares ISA

Stocks and shares ISA accounts were created for their tax benefits. In an ISA, you won’t have capital gains or dividends taxes like you do in a traditional brokerage account. While these accounts can still earn gains and dividends, they are sheltered for tax purposes. 

They are popular among individuals in higher tax brackets or who tend to have a high tax liability. The account owners are granted the benefit of nothing tax on growth or income, as well as no capital gains tax through their stocks and shares ISA, or any other type of ISA as well. 

Considering dividends can be taxed at 32.5%, this is an exceptional savings. 

What can you hold in a stocks and shares ISA?

Stocks and shares ISA accounts allow you to choose your investments, or to choose a provider that will manage your portfolio for you (for a fee). In most ISAs, you can choose from a variety of different shares and stocks on the market.

Some providers will have limitations as to the different stocks or funds that you can hold in your ISA. Other providers will grant you full access to the market and let you choose what you want in your ISA account. 

Be sure to choose a provider that will be able to accommodate your ISA wishes. Most providers will allow you to invest in shares, ETFs, REITs, and investment trusts at a minimum, but some give you much more than that. 

How to choose an online broker

The first thing is to ask an online broker is if they opens and provides stocks and shares ISAs. You will find there are a lot of choices out there and they all have different things about them. 

Consider these details as you work to find the best fit. 

Fees

While you won’t have to pay taxes on your income and capital gains inside of an ISA, that doesn’t make them free of fees. Every online broker will have different fees that they charge. Take the time to sort through their fees and determine what to expect for your account. 

Is there an annual fee, what about trading fees? If this is a managed account, what type of fee do they charge you for managing the account for you? Look at things like membership fees, monthly or annual fees, and trading fees to get a clear understanding of how much this account is going to cost you to utilize. 

Security

Not all online brokers are regulated. For some, they will specifically want a regulated provider that has to be compliant with their moderator. For others, whether they are regulated won’t matter that much. Which one matters to you? Typically, regulated providers offer some modicum of security about their practices and how they operate. 

In addition to regulation and compliance, what kinds of security provisions do they offer you? Is their platform secure so that your investments and data are going to be secure? Does the online broker have any type of insurance in case something were to go wrong with the provider? 

All of these details are important to know about to protect yourself when you invest. 

Available tools

Online brokers and banks offer a variety of convenient tools for you to work with. Some platforms are designed for beginners, while others will have advanced tools available. And there are brokers that do a great job of attributing to both advanced and beginning traders. 

Take the time to check out the platform you’re considering to determine whether it will or won’t be the right fit for you. Things like education, tutorials, trading tools, charting tools, and analytics are a few examples of what you might be checking for. 

If there are specific tools you want or need, then check for those. A little bit of time to get to know the provider will go a long way. 

Available investments

Are there specific investments you want to be able to hold in your ISA? If so, this will be a detail to keep in mind as you look for the right broker. Some brokers let you trade whatever you want within your ISA. However, there are also brokers that will limit the types of things you can invest in. 

Most brokers have the mindset that since ISAs are tax free accounts, you should be mindful of your investments. But this doesn’t mean you can’t trade what you want. It just means you might have to do some checking around to determine what broker will allow you to trade the things you want. 

This likely will be easy to accommodate! 

Type of account

Another thing will be to determine what type of account that you want to open. Your stocks and shares ISA could be self-directed, fully managed, or even tied to a robo adviser. If you like the idea of having some funds managed and some funds self-directed, you could open a managed ISA and a self-directed ISA, you just won’t be able to contribute to both of them in the same year. 

One year, you could do a managed and the next a self-directed and then alternate which years you put money in them. This is just an example. Ultimately, it’s up to you to determine what you want and how you want to make it work for you. There are plenty of options out there to cater to any needs or preferences. 

Customer service

Finally, a major detail that often gets overlooked in the search process is customer service. While you may never need customer service, there could come a day when you do. And when that time comes, you want an online broker that cares about their customers and will do what they can to help them. 

Do a little bit of research to figure out their customer service and maybe even what others say about them. Understand when their customer service will be available and how intuitive the provisions are. 

Do you need more than one stocks and shares ISA?

Having more than one stocks and shares ISA won’t be a good solution for everyone.

In fact, most people will never need more than one. However, there are a few reasons where having more than one might benefit some. 

For example, perhaps you have a managed ISA but you want to try your hand at some of your own trading? Opening a second self-directed ISA could be a great way to accommodate this. You simply can’t open them or contribute to both of them in the same year. 

Some people end up with more than one because they find a great deal with cheaper fees, better service, or more options that they like so they start a new account. These individuals can choose to leave the original account where it is or transfer it to combine them at some point. 

Having more than one stocks and shares ISA really just depends on the person and their needs. Do you absolutely need more than one? Probably not. But it’s still a good idea to be familiar with what you are allowed to do just in case you do have some idea that will lead you to need more than one. 

You have the flexibility to choose, and that’s where it’s nice to know what you can or cannot do. 

Final thoughts

While you can have more than one stocks and shares ISA, there are some limitations as to when and how you can contribute to them. For example, you can only contribute to one of these each year so you will need to be sure to keep track of where you’re making your contributions and not break those rules. 

You can open as many stocks and shares ISAs as you want over the years, as long as you remember you can only add to one of them each year. However, if you want to use a stocks and share ISA plus a cash ISA or other type, you can contribute to two different types in a year, within the annual allowance.

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