How to get more from your pensions

Planning for your retirement is important if you want better financial security in later life. The more you plan, the more enjoyable your retirement could be.

Whether you're starting to think about pensions, or are close to taking your benefits, our top tips could help keep you on track for retirement.

 

Growing your pension

1. Start contributing early

 

The earlier you can start saving for retirement, the better. The longer your money is invested in a pension, the more chance it has to grow.

You may want to put away as much as you comfortably can each month, as this could help you reach your retirement goals sooner.

Use our pension calculator to help you see what you may get at retirement.

2. Think about combining your pensions

If you change jobs throughout your working life, you may have more than one pension. If this happens, you might want to consolidate them all into one pot. This could make it easier to manage your pension and give you a clearer view of your savings.

Many or most pension providers offer consolidation options, but there may be charges for transferring your pension. Please check these with your providers before deciding.

3. Plan ahead if you’re self-employed

If you’re self-employed, saving into a pension can be more difficult than for those in employment. There’s no one to choose a pension scheme for you, no employer contributions and your income may fluctuate.

Opening a personal pension and making regular contributions can help to secure your financial future if you work for yourself. 

Maximising contributions

(Tax treatment depends on individual circumstances and may be subject to change)

4. Find opportunities to top up your pension

You can increase the amount you pay into your pension at any time.

If you get a pay rise, bonus, or inheritance, consider increasing the amount you contribute into your pension. Or if you’ve cleared loans or other debts, you can put any extra cash towards your future retirement income.

You can currently contribute up to 100% of your earnings (up to £60,000) each year. You can also carry forward up to three previous tax years’ worth of unused allowances.

5. Make the most of employer contributions

Make sure you’re getting the most out of your workplace pension, as employers may offer the benefit of monthly pension contributions. The amount will depend on your employer, and some may match the percentage you pay in each month (up to a certain amount).

It’s good to think of employer contributions as extra pension savings you wouldn’t have otherwise had.

6. Take advantage of tax relief

Make the most of tax relief by giving your pensions a boost from the Government.

You can check if you get tax relief on your pension contributions automatically, or if you need to claim it yourself. It depends on the type of pension scheme you’re in, and the rate of Income Tax you pay.

If you’re self-employed or a higher rate taxpayer, you can also claim additional tax relief through self-assessment.

Approaching retirement

 

7. Understand your retirement options

Before you reach your retirement, it’s important to consider how you want to take your pension benefits.

There are usually several options for you to choose from. It's worth knowing what each one means for you when it comes to accessing your pension.
 

Retirement options

8. Find your lost pensions

It’s common for people to hold different pensions as they move between jobs. Keeping track of them can be tough. Finding old pensions that you've lost or forgotten could offer extra retirement income. These could be sizeable sums, so it’s worth finding them if you can.

You can track them down by contacting your old pension providers or employers. You can also use the Government’s Pension Tracing Service.

9. Check your State Pension

This is a pension provided by the Government when you reach the State Pension Age. Payments are based on you having made 35 years of National Insurance payments during your working life.

Depending on when you were born, you should receive your State Pension between ages 66 and 68. You can check when you’ll receive your State Pension using the gov.uk State Pension forecast.

You can also see if you’ve got any gaps in your National Insurance history, or top up as required to ensure you receive your full State Pension.

10. See if you can hold off accessing your pension savings

You can normally access your pension from the age of 55 (rising to 57 by 2028). But you don’t have to. You can keep your pension untouched and invested as long as you like, giving it the best chance to grow and preserving your long-term savings.

There’s no maximum age to retire, although you can’t normally contribute into a pension over the age of 75.

Use our calculator to see what impact delaying your retirement age could have on your saving.
 

Pension calculator

Pensions are a long-term investment. You must be 55 (rising to 57 from 6 April 2028) to start taking your pension benefits. The benefits you receive from your pension account will depend on a number of factors. This includes the value of your account, as this can go down as well as up and could fall below the amount paid in.

Other things to think about

Understand the charges you’ll pay

It’s important to know the charges you’ll pay and how they may affect your pension savings. Pension fees and charges can vary between providers and pension types. For example, your workplace pension may have lower charges than a personal pension.

The performance of your pension investments can fluctuate over time. So, it’s good to know what you may get from your pension for the fees you pay.

Charges may include:

  • Fund management charges
  • Administration charges
  • Entry fees
  • Transfer or exit fees
  • Trading fees

Remember to compare any relevant charges against your current pension fees. This will help you make an informed decision.

Look out for scams

It’s important to be aware of common pension scams and understand how your pension provider would contact you if they needed to.

Never give your pension details out over the phone or click any links in suspicious emails, texts, or WhatsApp messages. Make sure you research any provider and go with a trusted business.

Find out how pension scams (PDF, 130 KB) work, how to avoid them and what to do if you suspect one.

Keep your beneficiaries updated

A nominated beneficiary is the person or people you choose to receive your pension when you die. This could be a loved one, such as a spouse or children.

Make sure you update your Expression of Wish or Nomination form. Even if you'd like to keep the same beneficiary, make sure their contact details are correct so your pension provider can find them.

You can update your beneficiaries at any time. It’s important to review your chosen beneficiaries after big life events, such as marriage, divorce, births, and deaths.

Opening a Ready-Made Pension

With our personal pension, our team of experts invest your money based on your chosen retirement age. We then lower the level of risk as you near retirement to help preserve your pension value. We do all the hard work, so you don’t have to.
 

Ready-Made Pension

Combining your pensions

If you have any pensions that you no longer pay into, you can combine and transfer them into a Ready-Made Pension. This could make things easier for you to manage. Transfers must be at least £10,000 when opening an account. Once opened, transfers can be £1,000 or more.
 

Combine your pensions

Frequently asked questions

  • Having a pension is a great way to put money aside for later life. Saving what you can afford each month could help you enjoy your retirement.

    One of the main benefits of a pension is the tax relief that you receive. But it is worth noting that there are annual limits on how much tax relief you get on pension payments.

    Your pension investments also generally grow free of tax (for example, no Capital Gains Tax to pay on investment growth). This means your pension could be a tax-efficient way to save for your future.

  • Speak to your employer, as auto-enrolment means that most employed people in the UK should be automatically added into a Workplace pension. If you work for yourself, you can easily set up your own personal pension, including our own Ready-Made Pension.

    While you may qualify for the State Pension, this may not be enough for you to enjoy your retirement. And without your own personal pension, you may have to be more cautious in retirement.

  • When saving for the future, it’s a good idea to find the right balance between contributing to your short and long-term savings. A savings account is more accessible in the short term. However, your pension pot can benefit from tax-free savings and employer contributions and is only accessible from the age of 55 (rising to 57 in 2028).

  • Pensions are a type of long-term investment. It’s important to remember that like any investment scheme, the value of your pension can go down as well as up over time. The earlier you start saving, the greater the chance for your investments to grow.

    Use our pension calculator to help you see what you may get at retirement. You can also see how increased contributions or taking a smaller tax-free lump sum affect your yearly pension.

  • There’s no ‘right’ amount to save in your pension, but it helps to pay in as much as you comfortably can. Use our pension calculator to help you see what you may get at retirement.

  • Paying into a pension earlier can bring benefits later down the line as it gives your investment more time to grow.

    However, any age is a good age to start a pension – especially if your employer is offering to make contributions or match your own.

  • Having a personal pension can be even more important if you’re self-employed, as you’re the only one contributing to your retirement.

    You won’t receive employer contributions, so it’s worth calculating what you’ll need once you decide to retire. This includes how much you’ll have to contribute each month to reach your retirement goal.

  • No, you’re not required to have a personal pension. However, it can be a tax-efficient way of planning for your financial future.

  • You receive government tax relief when you pay into your pension. For example, if you pay in £80, HMRC will add an extra £20.

    When you decide to withdraw from your pension, the first 25% is generally tax-free. The rest is taxed as income. This depends on the retirement benefits you take.

    Don’t forget that tax treatment depends on your individual circumstances, and both your circumstances and tax rules may change in the future.

  • You must be at least 65 years of age to currently be eligible for the State Pension.

    This will rise to 66 from April 2026, 67 by March 2028, before eventually increasing to 68 years old.

    To receive any State Pension, you’ll need at least 10 qualifying years of National Insurance contributions. And at least 35 years to receive the full State Pension.

  • The current full State Pension is £203.85 a week for 2023/24. However, what you receive depends on how much National Insurance you've paid while working.

    To receive the full amount, you’ll need more than 35 years of qualifying National Insurance contributions.