Hunt for £43m premium bond winners

First published 05 June 2013 • Updated 13 March 2018

If you haven’t checked your premium bonds in a while, today may be your lucky day. Almost 900,000 premium bond prizes worth more than £43m have been left unclaimed, according to National Savings and Investments (NS&I).

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NS&I says it is currently on the hunt for the winners, two of which are worth £100,000 and a prize of £25 dating back to 1957. There are several other prizes ranging from £25 to £100 dating back to 1960.

The two six-figure sums were both won by women, one in London and one in the Greater Manchester area. It also includes a man from Yorkshire who won £25 back in 1957.

It seems that these prizes fall through the gap when people either forget about bonds or move house without notifying NS&I. The good news is there’s no time limit for claiming your bonds.

How does it work and who’s Ernie?

Premium bonds are run by NS&I and backed by the government. They don’t earn interest as other savings products do. Investors forgo interest to have the chance to win tax-free cash. The monthly prize pot is generated from interest paid on the total amount invested in premium bonds. This is divided up among winners who are selected randomly by a machine nicknamed Ernie! (Electronic Random Number Indicator Equipment). The scheme was set up in 1956 and the top prize then was £1,000.

At the moment, there is one monthly £1 million prize, five £100,000 prizes and more than 1.75 million £25 prizes. And you don’t need to have thousands of pounds of bonds to win a decent sum: the missing £100,000 winner from London invested just £25.

Although the likelihood of winning the top £1m prize is one in 441.65 million if you only hold £100 worth of premium bonds, you still have quite cushy one in 240 chance of winning any prize.

How do I find out if I’ve won?

You can reduce the chances of a prize being unclaimed by managing your bonds online or opting to have any winnings paid directly into your bank account with a notification email. Not a bad start to a morning.

Top five highest unclaimed prizes (winning bond number and prize)

8LK522839: £100,000

50PB780494: £100,000

3VT019901: £50,000

1JK051177: £25,000

38HZ060777: £25,000

>>>Find out more on the different savings and investments

About the author
Nick Green
Nick Green
Nick Green is a financial journalist writing for Unbiased.co.uk, the site that has helped over 10 million people find financial, business and legal advice. Nick has been writing professionally on money and business topics for over 15 years, and has previously written for leading accountancy firms PKF and BDO.