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£54m in Premium Bonds unclaimed on anniversary

£54m in Premium Bonds unclaimed on anniversary

Category: Investments

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

Today sees the 60th anniversary of when Premium Bonds first started being sold. A lot has changed since then, in our society as well as to the bonds themselves, with the top prize now standing at £1 million, compared with the £1,000 reward of 60 years ago, and technology enabling many more ways to buy in and see if you've won.

When they were first sold, you had to go to the Post Office to invest. This didn't deter people though, with £5 million in bonds sold on that first day so many years ago. And while people nowadays can invest up to £50,000 in the bonds, the maximum stood at £500 back then, making the £5 million that much more impressive. Another way the bonds have changed with the times is the many ways you can now sign up – it's easy to buy a bond from the comfort of your own home, either online, over the phone, or by post, and checking to see if you've won is just as simple.

Despite all the ways there are to keep an eye on your Premium Bond, data from National Savings and Investments (NS&I) has revealed that 1.3 million prizes have not been claimed, totalling up to £53.9 million. Five of these prizes are even worth £100,000!

Luckily, there is no expiry date on Premium Bonds, so anyone who thinks they, or maybe a deceased family member, bought a bond some time ago that hasn't been checked, can still find out if they've won.

Checking could certainly be worth your while: since the first Premium Bond went on sale on 1 November 1956, NS&I has made 350 Premium Bond millionaires, with today seeing two more mystery millionaires join their ranks, from Norwich and Bristol.

Jill Waters, retail director at NS&I, commented: "Over the last 60 years, Premium Bonds have become a part of the fabric of British life with almost a third of Britons now holding the product. When they were first introduced in 1956 they changed how the nation saved and, over time, have increasingly become a part of many savers' portfolio."

While you would always have a more regular interest build-up from normal savings accounts, investing in Premium Bonds is tax-free and secure, and the odds of winning are still better than playing the lottery, without losing your initial investment in the process. So, while it wouldn't be recommended as the only means of saving, if you want a degree of chance in your savings portfolio, this could be the safest option to add some, as it is for the 21 million people currently holding such a bond.

What next?

If you think you might have an old, winning Premium Bond on your hands, read our guide to find out how to retrieve lost bonds and claim your prize.

If you're not sure what to do with your winnings, consider putting it into a long-term savings account to let it accumulate a more regular form of interest. Current interest rates may be low, but they can still beat the 1.25% estimated interest rate of Premium Bonds.

Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.