I have held a sizeable sum in Premium Bonds with National Savings and Investments for the best part of two decades. The returns I’ve had are modest – the odd tiny prize win here and there.
I was wondering if I should sell my bonds and start again. It feels like newer numbers seem to be luckier.
For example, I noticed in the last draw that the two £1million jackpot winners both had purchased the bonds in 2021. Is there any benefit of cashing out my old bonds to refresh them?
In January 2000, there were 13.5 billion Bonds eligible for the draw; in October 2021, the number of Bonds eligible for the draw was 113 billion, equating to a more than eight fold increase.
Ed Magnus of This is Money replies: With over 22 million people holding Premium Bonds across the country there is bound to be plenty of others pondering this very question.
In this month’s Premium Bond draw as you point out, both the £1million prize winning Bond numbers were purchased in January and February of this year – while the draw has been around since 1956.
Looking back over the past year’s winners won’t ease people’s concerns either.
In the past 12 months, nearly half of the 24 £1million prizes were won by Bond numbers purchased either in 2020 or 2021.
Drilling further into the statistics, 17 of the 24 Premium Bond millionaires of the past year purchased their winning Bond numbers over the past five years.
Premium Bonds Winners
|Prize||Area||Value of bond|
More October 2021 winners
View list of October 2021 winners
However, the reason it may seem that newer Premium Bonds win more often might just be because there are more of them in the monthly prize draw.
Since October 2016 the number of eligible Premium Bonds has grown from roughly 63billion to 113billion suggesting that although the ultimate prize is stacked slightly in favour of those who have recently purchased, there isn’t necessarily any bias towards newer Bond numbers.
|Prize||£1 bond holding|
|£1 million||1 in 56.54 billion|
|£100,000||1 in 22.62 billion|
|£50,000||1 in 9423 million|
|£25,000||1 in 5385 million|
|£10,000||1 in 1037 million|
The fact that 42 per cent of the latest 24 Premium Bond millionaires purchased their winning bond in the past two years isn’t that extraordinary at all.
According to NS&I’s figures, 36.9 per cent of Premium Bonds now available for the draw were purchased since 1 January 2020.
Not only has there been increased interest, but the amount that can be held in them has also risen substantially.
The limit increased from £20,000 to £30,000 in 2003. This then went to £40,000 in 2014, and £50,000 in 2015.
|Decade of investment||% £1 Bonds in Sep 2021 draw||% prizes paid in Sep 2021 draw|
For someone who has held the same Premium Bonds for the best part of two decades it may seem like your luck is out.
But this may actually be because your chance of winning the ultimate cash prize is decreasing as more Bond numbers are purchased by others.
A staggering 97.3 per cent of available bonds have been purchased since 1 January 2000 and 85.4 per cent of bonds have been purchased since 1 January 2010.
How are the numbers drawn?
The fate of Premium Bond holders’ rests on an electronic random number generator known as ERNIE 5.
Unlike previous versions which used thermal noise to produce random numbers, ERNIE 5 is powered by quantum technology which uses light.
The new technology allows ERNIE 5 to generate the lucky numbers for 535 million tax-free prizes worth £22.1billion in all but 12 minutes – 42.5 times faster than its thermal predecessor.
NS&I claim every Bond number, whether it has 8, 9, 10 or 11 digits, has a separate and equal chance of winning a prize, no matter on when it was bought.
We spoke to a member of the team at NS&I to see if they could share further light on our reader’s question.
Why do the newer Premium Bonds appear to be luckier?
An NS&I spokesperson replies: No matter when it was purchased, each £1 Bond has an equal chance of winning a prize in each monthly Premium Bonds prize draw.
The chance of each £1 Bond winning a prize does not change if customers hold their Bonds for longer, with the odds currently fixed at 34,500 to 1 and the prize fund rate currently at 1 per cent.
Since January 2000 and up to October 2021, there have been 399 Premium Bonds millionaires.
Of these millionaires, 70 people purchased their winning Bond prior to January 2000.
The last time someone won the £1million Premium Bonds jackpot with a Bond purchased prior to January 2000 was October 2019 when a man from Essex won it with a Bond purchased in August 1999 having had £4,000 invested in Premium Bonds.
The longest that someone has ever held a Bond before winning the £1million jackpot is 16,587 days when, in July 2004, a woman from the London Borough of Newham in London won it with a holding worth just £17.
The winning Bond was purchased in February 1959.
The woman’s £17 is also the smallest ever holding to scoop the £1million Premium Bonds jackpot.
In January 2000, there were over 13.5billion Bonds eligible for the draw; in October 2021, the number of Bonds eligible for the draw was over 113 billion – this equates to a more than eight-fold increase.