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Lifetime ISA - 25% bonus towards your first home

James Chidgey
James Chidgey is New Homes Manager for Mortgage Advice Bureau, and has many years of experience of the new homes sector, working with housebuilders, surveyors and mortgage lenders.

The Help to Buy ISA is closing to new applicants on 30th November this year (2019). However, there is already a very good alternative option for those looking to save for a deposit towards a home of their own, called a Lifetime ISA.

What is the Lifetime ISA?

With the Lifetime ISA, you can pay up to £4,000 each year into your ISA account and receive a 25% bonus (£1,000 maximum) for free from the government - who doesn’t like the sound of a free £1,000?

Who is it for?

This one is quite simple. Anyone can open a Lifetime ISA, as long as you’re over 18 years old and under 40 - although you can keep paying into the account until you’re 50. Once you turn 50, you can still keep the account open, you just won’t be able to pay into it anymore.

What are the advantages?

Aside from getting a free 25% bonus…

  • If you’re saving with another person, and you each have your own separate Lifetime ISAs, then between you, you could receive a significant bonus which could be a decent deposit on a house in a few years’ time.
  • You earn interest on your savings as it’s an ISA (Individual Savings Account).

Other things worth knowing

  • To get the 25% bonus, you need to have had the account open for at least 12 months.
  • If you’re a first time buyer, you must be purchasing a residential UK property worth £450,000 or less.
  • You can only withdraw the money if you’re over 60, using the money to buy your first home, or you have a terminal illness with less than 12 months to live. If you withdraw the money for any other reason then you’ll have to pay a 25% penalty. This means you’d lose the government bonus, and more, as you could get back less than what you put in.
  • There are various institutions offering Lifetime ISAs, including some building societies.

As you have to have the account open for at least 12 months, this is very much a long-term savings account. So if you’re in a hurry to quickly buy your first house, and will want access to the money within a year, this might not be the right route for you to take. However, if house prices become more affordable during this time, then waiting for 12 months might not be such a bad thing.

Already have a Help to Buy ISA?

If you already have money in a Help to Buy ISA, that’s fine. You can keep saving into the account until 30th November 2029 when all accounts will close, and you must claim your bonus before 1st December 2030.

If you’re thinking about opening a Help to Buy ISA, you only have until 30th November 2019, after this date you won’t be able to open up a new account.

If you currently have a Help to Buy ISA, you can transfer your funds into a Lifetime ISA, or you can save into both accounts. Just be aware that you’ll only be able to use the bonus from one of them to buy your first home.

To find out more about Lifetime ISAs, please feel free to get in touch with our team of expert mortgage advisers. In the meantime, you might want to read our article ‘Busting the myth of the big deposit’ to find out more about getting over the hurdle of saving for your deposit.

Because we play by the book we want to tell you that…

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.
There may be a fee for mortgage advice. The actual amount you pay will depend upon your circumstances.
The fee is up to 1% but a typical fee is 0.3% of the amount borrowed.

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