FIRST-TIME buyers planning to get Santander’s Help to Buy Isa have two days less to snap it up as it’s brought forward the deadline to open accounts.
The government is scrapping Help to Buy Isas, four years after they were first introduced, after November 30.
But Santander has imposed its own deadline, saying applications need to have been completed and accounts need to have been opened on or before November 28.
It’s worth pointing out that Santander’s account isn’t a best buy though.
Santander’s 1.75 per cent interest rate can be beaten by Barclays’ 2.58 per cent, Nationwide and NatWest’s 2.5 per cent and a handful of local building society rates – see our guide for a round-up of the Help to Buy Isa best buys.
But if you were planning to get Santander’s Isa, perhaps because you prefer to hold all of your accounts with just the one provider, then it’s best to move quickly as you may need to provide additional identification, which could slow down your application.
Top Help to Buy Isas
HERE’S how the top Help to Buy Isas compare, according to Moneyfacts:
These are the best Help to Buy Isas open to everyone but you may find some building socieites pay higher rates to locals.
- Barclays Bank – 2.58 per cent (transfers allowed, interest paid monthly, variable rate)
- Buckinghamshire Building Society – 2.5 per cent (transfers allowed, interest paid annually, variable rate)
- Nationwide – 2.5 per cent (transfers allowed, interest paid on account anniversary, variable rate)
- NatWest – 2.5 per cent (transfers allowed, variable rate)
- Virgin Money – 2.5 per cent (transfers allowed, interest paid annually, variable rate)
- Ulster Bank – 2.5 per cent (transfers allowed, interest paid monthly, variable rate)
Santander says it’s made the decision as many of its branches are shut on Saturdays, and November 28 is the last working weekday before the cut-off.
Barclays, Nationwide and NatWest all say they’ll continue accepting applications until November 30.
A spokesperson for Santander said: “To ensure that we are able to effectively meet the needs of our customers, we will be accepting applications for the Santander Help to Buy Isa completed by Thursday November 28.”
What is a Help to Buy Isa?
A Help to Buy Isa is a tax-free savings account that’s available to first-time buyers.
Save in the Isa, and government will boost your savings by 25 per cent up to a maximum of £3,000 to put towards a property purchase – meaning you’d need to have saved £12,000 in total.
Is a Help to Buy Isa better than a Lifetime Isa?
The Help to Buy Isa is being scrapped for new savers because we now have the similar Lifetime Isa (Lisa).
Both the Help to Buy Isa and the Lisa give you 25 per cent back on your savings.
But, you can save up to £4,000 a year with the Lisa, compared to just £2,400 with the Help to Buy Isa (although you can save £3,600 in the first year only).
Saving the maximum amount in a Lisa would net you £32,000 of free government cash, which is more than you can get under the Help to Buy Isa.
You can also buy a pricier house, with homes of under £450,000 or more available compared to a £250,000 limit on any property you buy outside of London using your Help to Buy Isa, or £400,000 in London.
But unlike the Help to Buy Isa, you can only withdraw cash to either buy your first home or when you reach 60.
If you want early access you’ll pay a 25 per cent penalty on the amount withdrawn.
And with a Lisa you have to wait a year after opening the account to get the bonus on your first home.
Interest rates are also higher with Help to Buy, as the top Lifetime Isa rate is just 1.4 per cent with Moneybox.
Can I have a Help to Buy Isa and a Lisa?
You can only get the 25 per cent homebuyer’s bonus on one of these accounts, although you can open both and then decide which to put the most cash into.
He said: “In summary, if you’re 18 to 39, will definitely buy a qualifying home and won’t buy within a year, go for a Lisa for the bigger bonus.
“If you’re older, need to buy quickly or aren’t 100 per cent sure you’ll buy at all, a Help to Buy Isa is safer.”