What is a Junior ISA (JISA)?

Pam the pig with Pamlet

A Junior Individual Savings Account (or JISA) is a great way to save for your child’s future. A JISA lets you contribute up to £9,000 a year without paying any tax on the interest and returns. Once it’s added, the money belongs to your child, but they can only withdraw it when they turn 18. In this guide, we explain everything you need to know about a JISA, including some of the main benefits and options, and whether these accounts are right for you and your child.

What is a Junior ISA (JISA)?

A Junior ISA account is a tax-efficient savings account for UK residents under 18 years old.

They work similarly to adult ISAs, letting you save money without paying capital gains or income tax on any interest or returns your child receives. But the obvious difference is that JISAs are only for people who are not yet of adult age and must be opened by a parent or legal guardian.

Once opened, the money belongs to the child. This means you as a parent can pay money in (up to the annual JISA allowance of £9,000) but you can’t make withdrawals.

Once your child turns 16, they can take control of the account and add money if they want to. They won’t be able to withdraw funds until they’re 18, though. At this age, their JISA will automatically convert into an ISA and they can transfer or withdraw funds as a lump sum.

Just like an adult ISA, Junior ISAs are protected (up to £85,000) by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). As long as your provider is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority, like CIRCA5000, their money is protected in the unlikely event that their provider encounters any financial problems.

What types of Junior ISA are available?

There are two main types of Junior ISAs. Your child can have one or both types in their name at any one time, and we'll explain more about the rules around these later in the article:

  • Cash Junior ISA: A Junior Cash ISA works like a regular adult Cash ISA. It’s similar to a standard savings account, however, you don’t pay tax on any interest you receive. In the case of a JISA, the money is locked away and can’t be withdrawn until your child turns 18.
  • Stocks and Shares Junior ISA: Like an adult Stocks and Shares ISA, this account lets you invest in stocks, shares, bonds, and investment funds. This means your returns are tied to the performance of your investment portfolios, rather than a set rate of interest.

Stocks and Shares ISAs usually offer higher returns on your money than Cash ISAs, as your savings are invested in the stock market. Instead of earning money only through interest, gains from Stocks and Shares ISAs also come from investment growth (i.e., how well your stocks and shares are performing). However, that means that the value of your child's investments can go down as well as up, unlike a Cash ISA.

With a Stocks and Shares Junior ISA, you’re also in complete control of your investment style. If you’re interested in impact investing (i.e. investing in sustainable and ethical projects and organisations), this is a great choice. At CIRCA5000, our funds are only made up of companies actively making the world a better place. That means you’ll know your child’s JISA is doing good while you save for their future.

Whichever type of Junior ISA you choose, your child won’t pay UK Income Tax or Capital Gains Tax on any returns within the JISA limit.

How much can you invest in a JISA each year?

For the current 2023/24 tax year, the annual Junior ISA allowance is £9,000. This means you can only invest up to £9,000 in your child’s account each year.

If you’ve opened both a Cash JISA and a Stocks and Shares JISA, you can either pay the full JISA allowance of £9,000 into just one of these accounts or balance the amount between the two.

Here’s an example:

  • In the 2023/24 tax year, you put £4,500 into your child’s Cash Junior ISA.
  • This means you can only put up to £4,500 into your child’s Stocks and Shares Junior ISA in the same tax year.
  • You'll then be at the Junior ISA limit for the year (£9,000).
JISA allowance examples

Will a JISA affect my own annual ISA allowance?

As a parent or guardian paying into a JISA, the £9,000 annual JISA allowance doesn’t impact the amount you can put into your ISA accounts. Your annual ISA allowance will remain at £20,000 (the upper limit for the current tax year). As the JISA is in your child’s name, it won’t impact a parent or guardian’s credit score either. Even though you’ve opened the account (and have responsibility for managing the account while they’re under 16), the money is technically your child’s.

Who can get a Junior ISA?

To open a Junior ISA, your child must be:

  • Under 18
  • A UK resident.

If your child isn’t resident in the UK, you can only open a JISA for them if:

  • You’re a crown servant (for instance, someone working in diplomatic or overseas civil services, or in the UK military).
  • Your child depends on you for your care.

If your child moves abroad after you’ve opened their Junior ISA, you (or other friends and family members) can still add money to the account.

Just remember, the account is in the child’s name, not yours. This means you can’t withdraw money, but you’re still the responsible account holder. This is known as a “registered contact”.

Money in a JISA can’t be withdrawn until your child’s 18th birthday. There are some exceptional circumstances though.

If you have a Child Trust Fund (we’ll cover these in more detail), you can’t have a JISA at the same time. You’ll need to transfer your trust fund into a JISA with your chosen provider.

Can I open a JISA for my grandchild?

You don’t have to be a child’s parent to open a JISA on their behalf, but you do need to have parental responsibility for them. So if you’re grandparents or other legal guardians with overall responsibility, you can open a JISA on the child's behalf.

While you can’t open a JISA as a grandparent, you can contribute to one once it’s open. All you have to do is send money by bank transfer to the JISA account.

What’s the difference between a JISA and a Child Trust Fund?

A Child Trust Fund (CTF) is similar to a JISA. It’s a long-term tax-free savings account for your child.

You can no longer open a Child Trust Fund. CTF accounts were open to children born between 1 September 2002 and 2 January 2011. At the time, children automatically received a £250 voucher from the government (or £500 for low-income families) to open a CTF.

However, you cannot have a CTF and JISA at the same time. If your child already has a CTF, you can either keep the account open or transfer it to a Junior ISA.

To do this, you’ll need to be the registered contact for the fund and know your child’s “unique reference number” (as well as their National Insurance number). It’s also a good idea to check there aren’t any exit fees that might diminish your child’s returns.

It’s worth noting that you can’t transfer back to a Child Trust Fund after you’ve switched to a JISA. So it’s vital to check terms and conditions as well as potential returns and provider fees before moving over.

You can find more information about Child Trust Funds on the gov.uk website. This includes help finding your child’s account and reference numbers if you’ve lost track of details.

Is it a good idea to transfer a JISA to a Child Trust Fund?

JISAs and Child Trust Funds are reasonably similar, but here are a few aspects to consider when deciding if switching is right for you.

  • JISAs are often easier to manage and can offer more transparency. With a JISA with CIRCA5000, for example, you can see exactly how much your child’s savings are worth. And you can add money simply through our app.
  • You have more control over your investing style. Junior Stocks and Shares ISAs are particularly useful for ethical investing, giving you control over which companies and funds your money supports. That’s not usually possible with a CTF.
  • JISAs may be more affordable. JISAs normally offer lower fund manager charges and fees than CTFs. This may not be the case for everyone though, so check both your current and new account fees before making any decisions. Transfer fees might also apply when transferring from your existing CTF.
  • Both account types have the same tax rules. Both CTFs and JISAs have the same annual allowance (letting you contribute up to £9,000 a year). Money earned is also tax-free, including capital gains and interest payments. So whichever account you go for, you’ll enjoy the same tax benefits.

Save for your child’s future with a Junior ISA from CIRCA5000

Ready to start saving for your child’s future? A Junior ISA is a convenient and tax-efficient way to put money aside for your child. You can add up to £9,000 a year that they’ll be able to access once they’ve reached the age of 18.

What’s more, with CIRCA5000, you’ll know that the money you’re investing in a Junior ISA is only going to companies that are committed to making the world a better place.

Sign up to CIRCA5000 to open a JISA and start saving for your child’s future today.

Disclaimer

When you invest, your capital is at risk. You should carefully consider whether opening a CIRCA5000 pension or transferring your old pensions is right for you. Please note that tax rules and reliefs depend on your personal circumstances and may change. CIRCA5000 does not provide any financial or tax advice, and you are responsible for your own tax reliefs/payments. This article does not represent financial advice. Your investments and the income from them can go down as well as up.

Important information - Investments can go down in value as well as up, so you can get back less than you invest. The information on this page isn't investment advice. If you're not sure if an investment is right for you, please seek advice. Tax rules can change and depend on individual circumstances.