A guide to Premium Bonds as NS&I announce 1.4 million unclaimed prizes

NS&I (National Savings and Investments) has revealed that there are currently 1.4 million unclaimed prizes from Premium Bonds, totalling more than £58 million.

That’s potentially a life-changing amount of money which is left waiting for the lucky winners to discover. If you have Premium Bonds, why not take this opportunity as a reminder to check on your account and find out if you are one of them?

If you don’t have Premium Bonds, you may be wondering what we’re talking about. Here’s everything you need to know:

1. What are Premium Bonds?

Premium Bonds are a product offered by NS&I, a savings organisation which is part of the government and has been operating for more than 150 years.

Every pound put into Premium Bonds is assigned a unique number. These numbers are entered in a monthly prize draw and could win between £25 and £1 million. You are free to withdraw the money you put into Premium Bonds at any point at any point, however, for every pound you withdraw, you will lose an entry into the prize draws.

Money held in Premium Bonds does not benefit from interest. Instead, prizes are awarded each month. However, the indicative rate of return is low, at 1.4%.

2. Who can buy Premium Bonds?

Anyone over the age of 16 can buy Premium Bonds for themselves. Parents and grandparents can buy Premium Bonds on behalf of a child under the age of 16, which will be held in their name, but managed by the adult until their 16th birthday, when the account will become theirs to control.

3. What are the limits on Premium Bonds?

Premium Bonds must be opened with a minimum investment of £100. Further purchases by phone, online and post are also subject to a minimum of £100, whereas bank transfer and Standing Orders must be at least £50.

You can hold a maximum of £50,000 in Premium Bonds.

4. How are winners chosen?

Time to introduce ERNIE. He’s been choosing the winners every month for over 60 years and he shows no signs of retiring any time soon. In fact, he’s responsible for more than 404 million wins!

You may have doubts about an old man hand-picking the winning numbers every month, but ERNIE is actually a very clever computer system. His name stands for ‘Electronic Random Number Indicator Equipment’, which is a bit of a mouthful but describes his job quite well.

5. What are the benefits of buying Premium Bonds?

  1. Prizes are tax free
  2. NS&I is a government department, which means that your investments are secure and guaranteed. They cannot be lost in the event of organisational failures or mistakes.
  3. The money you put in is not at risk. Premium Bonds are not an investment by the usual definition. When you buy Premium Bonds, you can withdraw the amount you have put in at any time. While all money deposited into NS&I accounts is invested in public services, so may lose value, you will not be affected by that performance.
  4. Every pound deposited gives you another chance to win between £25 and £1 million every month.

6. What are the negatives of buying Premium Bonds?

  1. There are no guarantees that you will win anything.
  2. If you don’t win anything, or if your returns are less than the rate of inflation, your money will lose value in real terms.
  3. If growth is your main priority, you will have better chances of achieving that in a traditional savings account or an ISA.

Returns could be better in traditional savings account or ISAs.

7. Can you find lost Premium Bonds?

If you think you may have had Premium Bonds in the past, you have two options:

  • If you know your holder number: if you have a letter or statement containing your customer or holder number, you can use that to trace any Premium Bonds you may have. Simply enter that number into NS&I’s Prize Checker.
  • If you don’t know your holder number: if you think you may have had Premium Bonds but cannot find any documentation, you can contact NS&I’s Tracing Service and ask them to find out on your behalf. This can take four to six weeks, so patience will be key here.

8. Are Premium Bonds right for me?

There are many saving and investment options available and finding the right one(s) for you will depend on your individual circumstances and aims. Because of this, it is recommended that you talk to us before making a decision, as we can help you to find the products and services which are best suited to you.

To discuss this further, get in touch.