Last-minute Isa deals and sweeteners offered by online brokers

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'If you don't use it you'll lose it' may be enough of an incentive for many Isa investors to find a home for this year's allowance. But if you're still wavering about whether to invest this year, the Isa providers have whipped up a number of last-minute deals to encourage you.

PLATFORM SWEETNERS

The investment platforms are slugging it out for your Isa allowance, with a variety of reduced fees, cashback deals and, for those feeling lucky, prize draws.

On the lower charges side, The Share Centre is waiving the first six months' administration charges on its stocks and shares Isa. At £4 plus VAT per month, that's a saving of £28.80.

Find the best online broker for your portfolio size

Cheaper charges are also on the cards at IG. Until the end of April it's offering commission-free trading in exchange traded funds.

It will also reward investors transferring an existing Isa or other investment. Move more than £10,000 and you'll get a £75 bonus, with this rising to £250 if you move more than £100,000.

You can also get up to £100 cashback at Santander. It's offering 0.5 per cent cashback on anything invested in its stocks and shares Isa between 6 March and 16 June 2017. You'll need to invest £20,000 to get the full £100, but this can include transfers.

Marks and Spencer vouchers are on offer if you switch to Cavendish Online's platform.

Move between £100,000 and £200,000 of investments, which could include self-invested personal pensions as well as investments and Isas, before the end of May and you'll get £100 of vouchers. More than this and you'll get £200.

As an additional, and potentially more rewarding, incentive, Cavendish has also reduced its charges. As a result, customers with £200,000+ will see their annual platform charge fall from 0.25 to 0.20 per cent.

LUCKY BREAKS

Prize draws offering the opportunity to win your Isa investment back are also popular.

Anyone opening, topping up or transferring to Hargreaves Lansdown's stocks and shares Isa by 7 April will have a chance of winning back anything invested from 3 February, up to a maximum of £50,000.

At Fidelity, anyone making a lump sum investment online by the end of March stands the chance of winning their money back in cash. It has four prizes up for grabs.

The investment trust companies are also looking at ways to attract your Isa allowance. For instance, Caledonia Investments will pick up the first year's administration fees, worth £20 plus VAT, for any new customer taking out an Isa before 12 noon on 5 April 2017.

CASHBACK BONUSES

It's also worth scouring the cashback websites to boost your Isa investments this year. If you're not already a member, you'll need to sign up and take up the offer through the cashback website to receive your bonus.

Among those offering an extra incentive are TopCashback and Quidco, which have a variety of deals on stocks and shares Isas.

On TopCashback, new Fidelity customers can get £105 if they open an Isa with £5,000 or more, while both cashback sites are offering between £80 and £500 back with Moneyfarm if you transfer an existing Isa.

There are also several deals from the friendly societies, including Scottish Friendly, which offers up to £200 through TopCashback depending on how much you invest; Foresters, which is offering up to £105 on its Isas through TopCashback; and Shepherds Friendly which, through Quidco, will give you up to £250 cashback if you set up a monthly payment into its stocks and shares Isa.

BE INNOVATIVE

If you'd like to beat the low returns on cash Isas but you're happy taking more risk, you may want to consider an Innovative Finance Isa (IF Isa), which offers tax-free access to peer-to-peer lending.

These were given the green light in April 2016 but it has taken time for the peer-to-peer lending platforms to gain Isa manager status; however, the number of products available is finally growing.

Being the new kid on the block, they're keen to grab your attention with everything from high target returns to chunky interest rates on offer.

Among those vying for your Isa allowance are Landbay, which specialises in buy-to-let mortgages and targets an annual return of 3.75 per cent, and Crowd2Fund, which lends your investment to businesses and targets 8.7 per cent a year.

Abundance is also looking to tempt potential investors. Its IF Isa, which offers estimated returns of between 6 and 9 per cent, allows you to invest in projects designed to benefit society, for example renewable energy, education and social housing.

Currently looking for new projects, it will pay a 2 per cent return on any cash balance held on its IF Isa between 21 February 2017 and 31 May 2017.

While these target returns knock spots off the interest rates you can get from a cash Isa, it's important to remember they are higher risk.

Your capital is at risk, and if the platform fails you won't have the protection of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.


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