NS&I bonds can award savers up to £1million tax-free

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NS&I Premium Bonds are a popular savings option for Britons, in which interest rates are decided by monthly tax-free prize draws. Generated at random, lucky bondholders could see prizes of as much as £1million hit accounts if chosen, and there are ways to boost chances of winning.

Launching in 1861, National Savings and Investments (NS&I) is the UK’s state-owned savings provider, which gives Britons the chance to save, regardless of their income.

By putting money into an NS&I savings account, savers lend money to the Government and in exchange, the Government applies interest – or in the case of Premium Bonds – the chance to win cash prizes.

As it’s a Government and HM Treasury-backed financial institution, NS&I guarantees 100 percent of savers’ money is safe.

The savings bank offers six products to invest in, including Premium Bonds, Green Savings Bonds, Direct Saver, Direct ISA, Junior ISA. But out of all, Premium Bonds is the most popular, as its website explains.

According to NS&I, over 21 million people are currently investing in them, which equates to nearly a third of the UK population.

Each month, the Premium Bonds draw creates two new millionaires. It also awards millions of others with prizes ranging between £25 and £100,000 if chosen.

While they might not win each month, savers never lose their stake, which is why Premium Bonds are often used as a savings account.

How do the prizes work?

To win prizes, savers must buy Premium Bonds and each investment must be at least £25. These can be bought online through the NS&I website, over the phone, or by post.

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Prizes are split into three value bands – higher, medium, and lower – and a percentage share of the monthly prize fund is allocated to each of these bands.

A prize draw then takes place at the beginning of every month, in which the randomly generated bonds drawn are split into these three value brands.

Prizes in the higher band can range from £1million (only two of these can be won) to £5,000.

The medium band awards people the chance to win between £1,000 and £500, while the lower band, which is allocated 90 percent of the prize fund, ranges from winnings between £100 to £25.

The odds of winning any prize at all, however, sit at 24,500 to one for every £1 bond. And while every bond has an equal chance of winning, the more bonds people have, the higher their chances are of securing the jackpot.

However, if needed, people can cash in their bonds at any time – this is how it works as a savings account.

How are the prizes paid?

Winners can choose to receive the prize in three ways. Firstly, holders can opt for winnings to land straight into bank accounts – or an NS&I saver – which is quick and easy.

Lucky bondholders will receive a text from NS&I alerting them, after which they’ll be able to see the prize money by the seventh working day of the month.

The second option is to reinvest the prize into more bonds. Those who have less than the maximum invested (£50,000) can buy more bonds to boost their chances of winning even more.

The third option is to receive a cheque for the prize through the post, but this does take longer.

When is the next NS&I Premium Bond prize draw?

The next NS&I Premium Bonds prize draw will take place on October 4.

How to check if you’ve won the NS&I prize draw

The NS&I website has a prize checker tool – people can access it here. All that’s needed is the bondholder’s number to see the results.

Not only will it show this month’s prizes, but it’ll also show the holder if they’ve won in any of the previous six draws and any older prizes that haven’t been claimed.

People can also download the NS&I Premium Bonds prize checker app, available at the Apple Store or Google Play, where the same information will be readily available.

According to NS&I, the largest unclaimed prize is £1,000 and is from the September 1994 prize draw. The oldest unclaimed prize in Sefton is from March 1965 with a value of £25.

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