October’s Premium Bonds: how to check if you are a winner

NS&I has added almost 110,000 more prizes to October’s Premium Bond draw – are you a winner?

Two lucky Premium Bond holders from outer London and Suffolk have each won the £1m jackpot in the October prize draw.

The winner from outer London bought their winning bond no. 333XB827779 in June 2018 and holds the maximum £50,000 in Premium Bonds.

Meanwhile, the winner from Suffolk, who also has £50,000 in bonds, bought their winning bond no. 226HV323415 in July 2014.

There’s reason for other Premium Bond holders to be happy too: October’s prize draw saw an extra £79m added to the prize pot, with the prize fund rate increasing from 1.40% to 2.20% – meaning the odds of winning have improved from 24,500 to 1 to 24,000 to 1. Millions of Premium Bond holders around the UK will win a prize between £25 and £100,000.

Jill Waters, NS&I retail director, said: “Premium Bonds are not just about the £1 million jackpot prize – from this month, we’ve increased the prize fund rate and added a massive £79m to the prize pot, meaning people up and down the country will have more chances to win prizes ranging from £50 up to £100,000.”

In total there were 4,972,506 Premium Bond prizes worth £218,790,200 paid out in October’s draw. The majority of prizes – 4,954,344 – are worth £100 or less.

The winners are picked by NS&I’s “Electronic Random Number Indicator Equipment”, otherwise known as a computer called Ernie. The changes mean Ernie has picked 18 winners for the £100,000 prize, 36 winners for £50,000 prize, 71 winners for the £25,000 prize, 178 winners for the £10,000 prize, 357 winners for the £5,000 winners and 4,375 winners for £1,000 prize.

There are also 19 times as many £50 and £100 prizes being paid out from this month as well as 3,493,262 winners for the lowest £25 prize. 

How to check if you’ve won a Premium Bond prize

There are several ways to find out if you’ve won a prize with Premium Bonds.

The easiest way to check is via the NS&I’s online prize checker or the prize checker app. The prize checker app lets you know how many days until the next draw too. Alternatively, you can even ask Amazon Alexa via your NS&I number

If you’ve registered with NS&I online you will be informed via email if you’ve won a prize.

If you don’t have the app and haven’t registered online, you’ll receive a letter at your home address. 

Premium bond wins do go unclaimed. In Suffolk, for example, there are 22,656 unclaimed prizes worth £725,300. The largest unclaimed prize is £1,000 and there are nine of them that were won between May 1986 and December 2020. The oldest unclaimed prize in Suffolk is from May 1967 and is worth £25.

If you’ve moved or changed contact details without letting NS&I know you too could have prizes languishing away quietly. It’s therefore important to make sure your address and email is up-to-date. You can do this by logging in to NS&I’s online service and checking your Premium Bonds account page, calling NS&I on 0800 092 1286 for a replacement Bond record that can be sent to you. And if you aren’t registered for the online and phone service, you can write to NS&I to ask for a replacement Bond record.

Premium Bonds vs savings accounts

This month the Premium Bond prize rate rose from 1.4% to 2.2% – the second boost to the prize fund this year and the biggest single increase in more than 40 years.

It means the odds of winning have improved from 24,500 to 1 to 24,000 to 1 and the 2.2% indicates the average payout for someone with average luck.

It may sound good but if you’re looking for a guaranteed return, Premium Bonds cannot offer you that: it’s possible to invest £1,000 in Premium Bonds and likely win nothing over a 12-month period.

Becky O’Connor, head of savings and investing at investment platform Interactive Investor, explains: “The ‘prize rate’ quoted is what people can typically expect in terms of a return. But with Premium Bonds, you don’t get interest, you get prizes. For many months, you might not get anything, then all of a sudden, a prize. 

“If what you are after is a dependable interest rate on your savings, then you might be better off with an easy access savings account. These currently pay around 2.1%, a smidge less than the new prize rate with NS&I, but with more certainty.”

If you want a guaranteed return on £1,000, the best easy-access savings account on the market is currently with Yorkshire Building Society, earning 2.5%. If you are able to lock away the cash for a year you can get 4.11% with Atom Bank.

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