Premium bonds increasing in popularity

More premium bonds have been sold in the last seven years alone than in the previous 48 years, according to figures from National Savings & Investments (NS&I).

Almost 87% of all existing premium bonds have been bought between 2000 and 2010.

NS&I, which sells the bonds, also reveals that around 87% of winners in its January 2011 draw had bought bonds in the last decade.

"Because of increased popularity and sales in recent years, it's no surprise that more of the winners are recent customers too," explains Carolyn Monchouguy, spokesperson for NS&I.

Equal chance

Despite there being more recent winners, NS&I stresses each purchased £1 bond has an equal chance of winning, due to the Electronic Random Number Indicator Equipment or Ernie. The odds of each individual bond number winning a prize are 24,000 to 1.

Monchouguy says a number of factors have contributed to premium bonds' surge in popularity: "The first £1 million prize was introduced in 1994, and then in 2003 the investment limit went up from £20,000 to £30,000. Then in 2006 it was our 50th anniversary and so there was a lot of publicity surrounding premium bonds."

In addition the minimum amount that can be held in bonds has risen to £100 (or £50 when bought through a monthly standing order), whereas in the past customers could hold much smaller amounts (the minimum investment was £10 up until 1989).  

NS&I's government backing has also given premium bonds a safe, if not staid, image.

Find out how much you could win with the premium bonds calculator from

No guarantee

But despite the opportunity for investors to win big, there's no guarantee, and in March 2009 low interest rates resulted in NS&I pulling one of its two £1 million prizes.

Andrew Hagger, spokesperson for Moneynet, blames low interest rates on savings accounts for the resurgence of premium bonds: "The lower interest rates are, the more likely people are to go for premium bonds. Maybe if accounts were paying 6-7% our savings would look much healthier and there'd be fewer people opting for premium bonds."

He suggests putting a small amount into premium bonds only after spreading money between ISAs and fixed-interest products.

"Of course there's always the chance you could win, and some people are prepared to forego interest for the chance of winning a tax-free prize – but there's a much bigger chance you'll get nothing; at least with savings accounts you'll get a certain amount back in interest."


More about

Your Comments

I have got the maximum amount of bonds you can have with a total investment of £30,000
I have a win more or less each month, ranging from between £25 to £100 but never any more than that.
There is a small chance of a bigger prize, but it's more for fun than anything else.

minimum amount of bonds that can be held is £100 it would seem, what about the very small amount of bonds that were purchased 40 years ago, are they worthless or are they still in the draw for the big prizes ???

Yes they have an equal chance of winning any of the prizes.

But, one VERY important point to remember is that if you move home then you must inform the Premium Bond office of your NEW ADDRESS so that they can send you your winnings.

Good Luck


I have had premium bonds for a few years now - a modest amount but still managed to win £25. With interest rates practically non-existent I would rather have my money in premium bonds than wait patiently for the meger interest I would get from the bank. I know there are high odds against me at winning the big one but if we all went round with a negative attitude against premium bonds we'd all be depressed!! I'll stick with my premium bonds thanks, I know full well that it would be just the way if I cashed in my bonds, put the money into a bank account and at some point some lucky wotsit would be allocated my old numbers and win! That ain't gonna happen to me!!

as i understand, if you still have the premium bonds your numbers for these are still in the draw each time until you decide to cash them in. don't lose them!