Built for complete security

Guaranteed income bonds (GIBs) are designed for investors who want to be absolutely sure of the level of income they can expect in the future and want to know their capital is safe, writes Paul Slade. Issued by life insurers, they are comparable with fixed-rate bonds offered by building societies.

As our table of Best Savings Rates on page 14 shows, ratesrange up to more than 6 per cent net of basic rate tax, equivalent to more than 8 per cent gross (although non-taxpayers cannot reclaim the tax already deducted).

The guarantee comes from the life office or fund manager offering the bond, which means you may be more comfortable with a big household name. In the unlikely event of the company collapsing, 90 per cent of your investment will be returned under the Policy Holders' Protection Act.

GIBs are designed as long-term investments, typically up to five years, and high exit charges in the first few years mean you may get back less than you put in if you cash in the bond early.

Investors can choose whether to take the income each year or roll it up to take a guaranteed lump sum payment when the bond is closed.

Other high-income bonds issued by life insurers are often confused with GIBs, even though they do not offer the same capital guarantees. Often these will guarantee the level of income you receive but will return the full amount of capital only if the FT-SE 100 or some other stock market index performs.

If you decide to go for a high-income bond you should be sure that you are aware of, and comfortable with, the level of risk involved to your capital.

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