Martin Lewis advises on savings accounts and premium bonds
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There are currently 21 million people across the UK who hold Premium Bonds with total savings of around £118billion having been put into them. It was first introduced back in 1956, as a way to encourage Britons to save again following the end of the second world war. If a person saves £1 in Premium Bonds they then receive a unique Premium Bond number and they can invest up to £50,000 in them.
Instead of earning interest, each Premium Bond is entered into a monthly prize draw where people could have the chance to win between £25 to £1million tax-free.
September’s Premium Bonds prize draw saw two individuals win the jackpot prize of £1million, 10 people receive £100,000, 19 people receive £50,000 and 40 get a prize of £25,000.
The NS&I says there are 4.8 million prizes that were handed out ranging from £25 to £1,000.
Any winnings are tax-free and aren’t counted as part of someone’s taxable income, so people don’t have to declare them to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
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An important thing to note about Premium Bond prizes is that they don’t carry a time limit, so people are able to claim as far back as the original 1957 draw as long as the bonds are eligible for the draw.
As of November 2021, there were around 2.2 million Premium Bond prizes worth around £78.8million just waiting to be claimed.
NS&I states Premium Bonds prizes normally go unclaimed because of some kind of miscommunication.
Usually, someone has either moved and didn’t tell NS&I, not updated their personal details, or forgot they owned them. This can usually happen if the bonds were given as a gift when a person was a child.
In 2020, NS&I said that 180,000 winner cheques worth over £8million were returned to them.
There are a few options people can take to check if they have won in one of the historic prize draws.
People can either head over to the NS&I’s website and log in with their NS&I number, surname, and password.
A person’s NS&I number was sent to them when they registered for either the online or phone service and they can find it on any letter they have received since they have registered.
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It will have either nine or ten digits, or be an eight-digit number with a letter at the end.
People can also check if they have won on the NS&I’s prize checker app which can be downloaded from the Apple app store or Google play.
If someone has an Amazon Alexa, they can use this to check for any unclaimed prizes.
NS&I states the “best way” to ensure prizes do not go unclaimed is for customers to have the prize paid directly into their bank account or automatically reinvested into more Premium Bonds.
More than nine out of 10 prizes are now paid this way.
NS&I increased the Premium Bonds prize fund rate earlier this year, which improved the odds of winning from 34,500 to one to 24,500 to one.
It also saw an additional 1.4 million prizes paid out in the June 2022 prize draw.
Since the first draw in July 1956, the NS&I’s Electronic Random Number Indicator Equipment (ERNIE) has drawn 577 million prizes with a total value of £23.2billion.
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