Premium Bonds are among the most popular savings product in Britain with more than 21 million people putting money into them. Rather than gaining interest the bonds are entered into a monthly draw with the chance of winning a prize ranging from £25 to £1 million.
The bonds are administered by the National Savings and Investments Department who recently increased the maximum holding to £50,000. There are now two monthly £1m jackpots and with interest rates so low they offer savers the chance of receiving no return on the Premium Bonds but the opportunity to win a big prize.
The Bonds were launched by Harold Macmillan in 1946 when he was Chancellor and came in units of £1 but now they can only be bought in blocks of £100 or £50 if you buy them by monthly standing order.
You need to be over 16 to purchase them, but they can be bought as gifts for your children, grandchildren, or even great grandchildren. It is not possible to buy them for other relatives such as nieces or nephews, or friends.
Premium Bonds are not recommended for someone needing a regular income and the odds of winning with each £1 bond is 26,000 to 1. Someone with average luck will have an equivalent return of 1.35% a year says the NS&I, but it is possible to go many years without seeing any return.
The odds of winning £1 million with £1 of bonds is 1 in 26.9bn but if you have a £40,000 holding then they increase to 1 on 673,000
Unlike most investments and cash saving accounts except for an ISA, the winnings are tax-free. This could make the return competitive in the current saving market but there are no guarantees, some will earn well and some not at all.
Premium Bonds work best for higher rate tax payers looking for a safe place to hold cash and hoping they will win a higher tax-free return. They can be used as a temporary home for cash and the additional £10,000 subscription increases the prospect of winning a prize.
It is important to remember that these bonds are a lottery and not an investment.
To check if you have any unclaimed prizes visit www.nsandi.com/do-i-have-any-unclaimed-prizes