Updated 03 December 2020
If you havenât checked your premium bonds in a while, today may be your lucky day. Almost 900,000 premium bond prizes worth more than Â£43m have been left unclaimed, according to National Savings and Investments (NS&I).
NS&I says it is currently on the hunt for the winners, two of which are worth Â£100,000 and a prize of Â£25 dating back to 1957. There are several other prizes ranging from Â£25 to Â£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 Â£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 thereâs no time limit for claiming your bonds.
How does it work and whoâs 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 Â£1,000.
At the moment, there is one monthly Â£1 million prize, five Â£100,000 prizes and more than 1.75 million Â£25 prizes. And you don’t need to have thousands of pounds of bonds to win a decent sum: the missing Â£100,000 winner from London invested just Â£25.
Although the likelihood of winning the top Â£1m prize is one in 441.65 million if you only hold Â£100 worth of premium bonds, you still have quite cushy one in 240 chance of winning any prize.
How do I find out if Iâve 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)