Nutty

How many pensions can you have?

Edward Savage
Personal Finance Editor
Updated
May 19, 2024

In a nutshell

You can have as many pensions as you want! Having both a workplace pension and a personal pension is a great way to boost your retirement income. But we’d steer clear of keeping tons of old pensions lying around as they could easily get lost – instead, consolidating them could make them easier to manage.

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Pensions are awesome. There, we said it! They’re specially designed to help you save for retirement, which means they make it oh-so-easy to stash money away so you can enjoy your golden years to the fullest.

But is it possible to have too much of a good thing? Well, there’s no limit to the number of pensions you can have, and having both a workplace pension and a personal pension is a great way to boost your retirement income. However, you probably don’t want to have too many pensions as they could easily get lost! Here’s the full lowdown.

Can I have more than one pension? Really?

Yes, yes and yes again! You can have more than one pension. In fact, you could have 40 if you wanted (not that we’re recommending you get 40 pensions… they’d probably be hard to keep track of!).

How many pensions can you have?

Having said that, even though there aren’t any limits to the number of pensions you can have, there are some other limits you’ll need to bear in mind when it comes to how much you can pay into them. Let’s take a look at some of those here.

Workplace pensions

A workplace pension is a pension that’s set up for you by your employer. This is different from personal pensions, which you set up yourself. (Wait, what’s a personal pension?).

With a workplace pension, you usually have to contribute 5% of your earnings to your pension each month. But the really great news is that your employer has to contribute too – at least 3% of your earnings, straight from their own pocket!

Workplace pension

Anyway, the point is that you can have as many workplace pensions as you want. In fact, the chances are you’ll have a few by the time you retire, as each time you change jobs, you’ll be set up a new workplace pension by your new employer. The average worker in the UK changes jobs 5 times (according to AAT). So, we’ll let you do the maths.

old-pensions-can-get-lost

HOWEVER even though there’s no limit to the number of workplace pensions you can have, you can only pay into one at a time. In other words, you can have lots of workplace pensions lying around waiting for you to retire, but they all have to be ‘dormant’ other than the one your current employer has set up for you (a dormant pension is one you and your employer are no longer paying into).

Instead, if you want to pay into more than one pension at once, you’ll need to start a personal pension alongside your workplace one. Hint: this is a really sensible idea and can be a great way to boost your income in retirement!

Annual allowance

Technically, you can pay as much as you want into your pensions each year. But if you want to get all the tax benefits that pensions normally come with, you’ll need to make sure that you don’t go over a limit set by the government, known as the annual allowance. 

At the moment, the annual allowance is £60,000 or 100% of your salary – whichever is lower.

Pension annual allowance

In other words, if you earn £30,000 per year, your annual allowance will be… wait for it… £30,000 – it’s equal to your salary because you’re earning under £60,000. On the other hand, if you earn £100,000 per year, your annual allowance will be £60,000 – because you’ve earned more than £60,000. Makes sense, right?!

The only exception is if you’re over the age of 55 and you’re already taking an income from your pension. In this case, your annual allowance will be much lower – normally £10,000. 

So, what does this all mean in practice?

Well, if you stay under the annual allowance, you won’t have to pay tax on any earnings (like your salary) that you pay into your pension. This is known as tax relief and is the government’s way of helping you to boost your savings for retirement!

Workplace pension tax relief

However, if you go over your annual allowance, you won’t be able to claim that sweet, sweet tax relief on the extra money – which might mean you’re better off doing something else with it instead (for instance, stashing it away into another kind of savings account, like a Stocks & Shares ISA).

Is it a good idea to have more than one pension?

Yes! If you have a workplace pension already and you have some extra cash, we’d usually recommend setting up a personal pension alongside it. A personal pension can be a great way to boost your income in retirement – and it’s generally a much better shout than increasing your workplace pension contributions. 

Not only is a personal pension flexible (most modern personal pension providers like PensionBee will let you pay in as much or as little as you want, whenever you want). But you’ll also be able to choose your own pension provider – unlike with a workplace pension, where your employer will pick out a pension provider for you. That means you’ll usually be able to choose a pension provider that has cheap fees and a great track record for growing pension savings quickly – we’ve put together a list of the best private pension providers so you can easily compare them.

Best personal pensions

Find the best personal pension for you – you could be £1,000s better off.

Best personal pensionsBest personal pensions
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PensionBee rated 5 stars

PensionBee

PensionBee is our recommended provider – they’ve thought of everything.

Their 5 star rated app (and website) makes it easy to set up and use. You can open a brand new pension, or transfer your existing pensions across (they’ll handle all the paperwork).

Simply pick from an easy to understand range of pension plans, and that’s it, the experts manage everything from there.

It’s low cost, with one simple annual fee. The customer service is excellent, and you’ll get a dedicated account manager for any questions you might have.

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And, when the time comes to retire, withdrawing from your pension is easy too.

You can also use them if you're self-employed or a company director.

Pros

  • Pensions made easy
  • Easy to understand pension plans
  • Find all your old pensions and move them over (consolidate)
  • Low fees
  • Great customer service
  • Great if you’re self-employed (or a company director)
  • Withdraw from your pension when you retire
  • Get £50 added to your pension

Cons

  • No financial advice, but can explain your options
  • Not much else!

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Moneyfarm rated 5 stars

Moneyfarm

Moneyfarm is a great option for saving and investing (both ISAs and pensions). It's easy to use and their experts can help you with any questions or guidance you need.

They have one of the top performing investment records, and great socially responsible investing options too. Plus, you can save cash and get a high interest rate.

The fees are low, and reduce as you save more. Plus, the customer service is outstanding.

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Pros

  • Great for beginners and hands-off investors
  • Easy to use
  • ISA
  • Pension
  • Free personal investment advisor
  • Great track record for growing money
  • Socially responsible options
  • Invest cash for a high return

Cons

  • Have to invest at least £500
  • Not much else!

Capital at risk.

Best personal pensions

Find the best personal pension for you – you could be £1,000s better off.

Best personal pensionsBest personal pensions

Having said that, having LOTS of pensions can have its challenges. The main one is that they can… well… get lost!

We know what you’re thinking: ‘how could you lose a pension?!’ Well, it’s actually quite easy to do. In fact, The Association of British Insurers found that there are around 1.6 million lost pension pots in the UK, worth around £19.4 billion altogether!

This is often because when people change jobs loads, they end up with lots of dormant workplace pensions that are just sitting there waiting for them to retire. 

In this case, instead of having lots of old pensions lying around, you could consolidate your pensions – that’s when you transfer all your old pensions over to one new personal pension. This way, they’ll be much easier to keep track of and less likely to get lost. Win win!

Transfer old pensions to apersonal pension

So, more than one pension or no? What’s the verdict?

Well, we’d recommend having a workplace pension and a personal pension if you’re looking to boost your income during retirement. But we’d steer clear of having tons of old pensions you’re no longer contributing to. After all, the last thing you want is to go and lose some of your hard-earned cash!

How many pensions can you have on top of your State Pension?

Finally, you might be wondering ‘where does the State Pension come into all this?’ 

Well, for those of you who don’t know, the State Pension is a weekly payment you’ll probably be able to get from the government once you hit State Pension age – that’s currently 66, but it’s gradually climbing to 68. And guess what? You can have as many pensions on top of your State Pension as you fancy!

State Pension age

That’s right, if you qualify for the State Pension – which you normally will if you’ve paid enough National Insurance contributions throughout your working life (that’s a payment you make to the government alongside your taxes) – then you’ll be able to claim this weekly payment from the government regardless of any other forms of income.

In other words, it makes no difference whether you’re still working, retired, earning a fortune through other pensions or living off just your State Pension. If you qualify for it, you’ll get the State Pension all the same.

The full State Pension (meaning the maximum you can get) is currently £221.20 per week, which comes to £11,500 per year. So, although it’s super nice to have, it’s not a lot – many people would struggle to live on that alone.

Full State Pension

With that in mind, having another pension alongside your State Pension is very sensible. Whether it’s a workplace pension or a personal pension (or both!), it’ll help you to boost your retirement income so you can afford to live your sunset years to the full (cruise around the Caribbean, anyone?!).

Let’s recap

So, to summarise, you can have as many pensions as you want! You just need to be a little bit careful about how much you pay into them, to make sure you can reap all of their lovely tax benefits.

There’s not much point having loads of old workplace pensions lying around, so we’d normally recommend consolidating them all in one place to make them easier to manage (we don’t want any getting lost now, do we?!). But we would recommend starting a personal pension alongside your workplace pension, if you’ve already got one of those – assuming you have some spare cash you want to set aside for retirement, of course!

And if you’re self-employed, retirement planning is essential as you won’t be paying into a workplace pension scheme. We recommend definitely opening a personal pension! Your future self will thank you (a lot) when it comes to retiring and making the most of your juicy retirement income.

By starting a personal pension, you’ll be able to choose a pension provider with low fees and a good track record for growing money quickly. Which means it’s a great move for boosting your retirement income and allowing you to live out your sunset years to the full!

If you’re not sure where to start, just check out our selection of the best personal pensions. Then, get saving – you’ll thank yourself later!

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Best personal pensions

Find the best personal pension for you – you could be £1,000s better off.

Best personal pensionsBest personal pensions
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Best personal pensions

Find the best personal pension for you – you could be £1,000s better off.

Best personal pensionsBest personal pensions
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Best personal pensions

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