Premium Bonds: how do prize winners get notified – and who is Agent Million?

How do Premium Bond winners get notified, how do the winnings get paid and who exactly is NS&I's Agent Million?

Woman celebrating with confetti on white background.
(Image credit: Maria Korneeva)

National Savings & Investments (NS&I) is set to announce its July 2024 Premium Bond winners, so it's worth knowing how you will get notified. 

If you're a Premium Bond winner, the chances are you'll have bagged a £25 prize (more than 1.4 million of them were awarded in June) or a £50 or £100 prize (around 2.1 million winners in June). But it could also be as much as £100,000 (87 such prizes were up for grabs in June). In all, more than £455 million was dished out in June alone.

The Premium Bond prize fund rate currently sits at 4.4%, having held at its highest rate in 25 years – 4,65% – for six consecutive months. The odds of winning a prize remain the same, at 21,000 to 1 for every £1 bond.

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So, how do you know if you've won -– and what happens if you scoop the top prize of £1 million? MoneyWeek spoke to NS&I to lift the lid on how winners get notified, as well as who Agent Million is. 

Do all winners get an email saying 'you've just won!', regardless of whether it's £25 or £100,000? 

NS&I says: Customers who are signed up to be notified of any prize wins via email are notified in this way, regardless of the amount. Any email that Premium Bonds customers receive notifying them of a win does not include the value of the prize. The email notification encourages them to check how much they have won via the prize checker app, online prize checker or on an Alexa-enabled device.

Depending on how Premium Bonds customers check whether they have won, when it is a high-value prize (£10,000 and above), they are told they do not need to do anything and that we will be in touch.

What happens with customers who have won a high-value NS&I prize?

NS&I says: Customers winning prizes worth between £10,000 and £100,000 are sent a prize claim form via the post. This asks them how they would like their prize paid. For example, they can choose to have their prize paid directly into their bank account or automatically reinvested into more Premium Bonds. 

How do winners get told when they’ve won the £1 million jackpot? 

NS&I says: These customers receive a visit from “Agent Million”. This person is an NS&I employee who travels the country to give our lucky jackpot winners the good news. We actually have five Agent Millions. In total, since 1994, there have been around 20 Agent Millions.

Who are the Agent Millions?

NS&I says: We keep their identities secret – this is important for the privacy of both our Agent Millions and our winners. Winning £1 million is life-changing, so when Agent Million informs the winners, secrecy ensures that sharing this news is a choice for them.

Our Agent Millions are based in Lytham St Annes (in Lancashire), the home of Premium Bonds, so they do have to travel, as well as spend the odd night away from home. Although they are sworn to secrecy about the role they perform, they may tell certain family members or loved ones about it for practical reasons. However, they must keep their role secret from friends and colleagues who do not need to know.

Do they always visit the winners in person?

NS&I says: Our Agent Millions always visit £1 million Premium Bonds jackpot winners in person.

Throughout the pandemic, Agent Million was unable to visit jackpot winners in person for the safety of all involved, but has been back on the road since the May 2022 prize draw.

What happens if I win £1 million but I'm away on holiday?

NS&I says: If a £1 million winner was on holiday when Agent Million visited, they would make contact with the winner via an alternative method.  

How do you work out which Agent Million contacts the winners each month?

NS&I says: All of our Agent Millions perform other roles within NS&I, so which ones are visiting jackpot winners depends upon their availability. There are, of course, two £1 million winners each month, so two Agent Millions are in action for each prize draw.

Having five Agent Millions ensures that, each month, an experienced colleague is always on hand to guide our two jackpot winners through a life-changing time.

Does the jackpot winner have to prove their identity?

NS&I says: For the security of both Agent Million and our jackpot winners, we cannot provide any further information on the process that Agent Million goes through with winners. However, we would ensure that we are paying the prize money to the correct person. 

What options does the £1 million winner have in terms of how the money is paid to them? 

NS&I says: The £1 million Premium Bonds jackpot winners can choose to have their prize paid into an NS&I Direct Saver or an account of their choice. NS&I has recently upped the rate on its Direct Saver to 4% – up from 3.65% AER. 

All funds held with us are secure as we are backed by HM Treasury, so if customers choose our Direct Saver account while deciding what to do with their winnings, they have this added peace of mind.

Do you help winners who want financial advice?

NS&I says: Since April 2022, we have offered £1 million Premium Bonds jackpot winners the option to seek financial advice from any certified financial planner or chartered financial planner in the UK. This means that more than 8,000 advisers have the chance to help winners of the Premium Bonds jackpot. Previously financial advisers came through one firm.

Aside from this, our prize draw team at NS&I keeps in touch with jackpot winners and always recommends they take up our offer to provide professional financial advice.

What's the average Premium Bonds holding for a jackpot winner?

NS&I says: The average holding for a Premium Bonds £1 million jackpot winner as of June 2023 was £23,690. Up to June 2023, there have been 508 Premium Bond millionaires.

In terms of winners that had smaller Premium Bond holdings, someone from the London borough of Newham won £1 million in July 2004 with a Premium Bonds holding worth £17. The winning bond was purchased in February 1959, so they did have to wait more than 45 years for the win.

More than 500 winners have scooped the £1 million jackpot with holdings worth £1,000 or less. To see if you’ve won a prize with your Premium Bonds, pop your details into the Prize Checker

Ruth Emery
Contributing editor

Ruth is an award-winning financial journalist with more than 15 years' experience of working on national newspapers, websites and specialist magazines.

She is passionate about helping people feel more confident about their finances. She was previously editor of Times Money Mentor, and prior to that was deputy Money editor at The Sunday Times. 

A multi-award winning journalist, Ruth started her career on a pensions magazine at the FT Group, and has also worked at Money Observer and Money Advice Service. 

Outside of work, she is a mum to two young children, while also serving as a magistrate and an NHS volunteer.

With contributions from