Post Office to stop selling premium bonds from 1 August
The Post Office is to stop selling premium bonds from 1 August after National Savings and Investments (NS&I) pulled the plug on a 46-year face-to-face sales arrangement.
From August, anyone wanting to buy premium bonds will have to do so directly from NS&I. They can buy online at nsandi.com or by phoning 0500 007 007 at any time of day or night.
Alternatively they can apply by post by completing an application form that can be requested by phoning the above number, or downloaded from the website and returning the form to NS&I.
Existing bond holders can buy more by making a direct transfer from their bank account as long as they have their 'premium bond holder's number' to hand.
Jane Platt, chief executive at NS&I, said: "The majority of our customers already use direct channels to buy their Premium Bonds, and so moving to 100% direct sales is a natural next step for NS&I."
She added: "After such a long-standing relationship we know it's important that we help our customers with the transition. We'll be writing to those who have recently bought Premium Bonds through the Post Office to let them know about the end date on counter sales and to assist them with using our direct channels for purchases from 1 August."
NS&I explained that the move was part of its contribution to help reducing the cost to the taxpayer of government borrowing.
In a statement, the National Federation of Subpostmasters said: "This is very disappointing news, particularly for our elderly and more vulnerable customers who rely on face-to-face support from subpostmasters with handling these types of transactions."
Earlier this month, the maximum amount that can be invested in premium bonds rose from £40,000 to £50,000, meaning the limit has risen by £20,000 in little over a year.
Only one year ago was the former upper limit of £30,000 increased to £40,000, at which point a second £1 million prize was also introduced.
A form of National Savings Certificate, premium bonds are effectively gilt-edged securities: you loan your money to the government and, in return, it pays you for the privilege with a guarantee it will return your capital at a specified date. Where premium bonds differ is that the interest payments (currently 1.5%) are pooled and paid out as prize money and you can get your cash back within a fortnight, with no risk. Launched by Chancellor of the Exchequer Harold Macmillan in his 1956 Budget, every single £1 unit has the same chance of winning and in May 2011, 1,772,482 winners (from a total draw of 42,539,589,993 eligible bond numbers) shared £53,174,500. The odds of winning are 24,000 to 1 and the maximum holding is £30,000 per person but it remains the only punt in which you can perpetually recycle your stake money.