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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Main ways to save or invest your money

If you've money to spare, you can save and/or invest it. With saving you put your money aside without risk, usually with the chance to earn interest. With investing, there's potential for your money to grow more, but the returns aren't guaranteed. Investing is generally more suitable for the longer term.

Main types of savings products

Banks and building societies savings accounts

With savings accounts you'll always get back at least the money you paid in plus interest at the rate advertised. There's a wide range of accounts to choose from, with key differences being how quickly you can get at your money, the minimum amount required to keep the account open and the type and rate of interest rate paid.

Cash ISA (Individual Savings Accounts)

Most banks and building societies also offer tax-free savings and investment accounts called ISAs. The cash ISA (one type of ISA) generally contains only cash, so there's no risk to your money.

For the tax year 2011-12 you can save up to £5,340 in a cash ISA if you're a UK resident aged 16 or over. 

Read more about ISAs and Junior ISAs in the section on investment products below.

National Savings and Investments

National Savings and Investments (NS&I) are savings and investment products backed by the government. As a result, any money you invest is totally secure.  NS&I offers tax-free products (including premium bonds); products offering guaranteed returns; monthly income products; children's savings products - and more.

Credit Unions

Credit Unions are mutual financial organisations which are owned and run by their members for their members who can save with them. Once you've established a record as a reliable saver they will also lend you money but only what they know you can afford to repay. Members have a common bond, such as living in the same area, a common workplace, membership of a housing association or similar.

Follow the link below to find a Credit Union near you or by looking in the Yellow Pages under 'Credit Unions'.

Main types of investment products

Shares

When you buy shares you buy a stake in a company.  If the company does well the value of the shares may rise and you may be able to sell them at a profit. You may also get a share of the profits through income payments called dividends. If the company doesn't do well, you may not get any dividends and the value of the shares could fall or, in some cases, cease to have any value at all.

Pooled or collective investments

Pooled or collective investments are where small contributions from lots of people make up a single investment fund. They include:

  • Authorised Unit Trusts
  • Open Ended Investment companies (OEICs)
  • Investment Trusts
  • Exchange Trade Funds
  • Unit linked life assurance
  • ISAs (see next section)

To find out more about each type, including the pros and cons of collective investments and your rights, follow the links below.

Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs)

An ISA offers tax-free returns. It can be made up of cash, and/or longer term investments like stocks and shares or insurance. You don't pay tax on the interest or dividends (investment income) from an ISA, apart from the 10 per cent tax credit which is deducted from dividend payments before you get them. You also don't pay Capital Gains Tax on gains (profits) from investments in an ISA.

There are limits to how much you can pay into an ISA each tax year.

From 1 November 2011, Junior ISAs are available especially for children.

Bonds

Bonds are loans to a company, a local authority or the government. They pay a set amount of interest and are traded on the stock market, so their value can rise or fall.

Additional links

Junior ISAs

New tax-free savings accounts for children are now available

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