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Some cool Isa deals for 2011

The sales may be well underway, but how about resisting the temptation to spend and putting the rest of your hard earned pennies in an ISA instead? There’s still time to put away £5,100 tax-free before April so no need to cash in your silverware just yet.

Interest is paid tax-free, which means better returns than what you get on ordinary savings accounts or bonds.

Until next April, savers can put up to £5,100 for the 2010-11 tax year in a cash Isa account. Then from the start of the new 2011-2012 tax year in April, savers will be given a fresh £5,340 allowance.

Both instant access and fixed-rate Isas are available, though rates are generally better if you lock up your cash for longer.

The best rate on an instant access Isa is offered by Santander’s Flexible Isa 3, which pays 2.8%. But Santander won’t let you transfer previous years’ Isa savings from other banks or building societies. If you want this option, best opt for Halifax's Isa Direct Reward, also at 2.8%. For fixed-rate Isas, Halifax and Northern Rock have the best savings rates, at 4.25% and 4.1% over a period of 4 and 5 years respectively.

But if you’re in no hurry then it might be best to wait and see, as banks and building societies tend to offer better rates as they gear up for the new tax year.

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