Over £8 million Premium Bond prizes lost in the post – check if you're owed
Over 180,000 Premium Bond prizes which were sent as cheques but never arrived in the post are waiting to be reclaimed, MoneySavingExpert.com can reveal.
National Savings & Investments (NS&I), which runs Premium Bonds, sends prizes to your home through the post as a warrant – which is similar to a cheque – unless you've signed up to be paid directly into your bank account.
But if for any reason your prize isn't delivered and is returned to NS&I, perhaps because you've moved or there's been a problem with the post, it won't be resent automatically.
Figures obtained by MoneySavingExpert under the Freedom of Information Act show that there are 185,654 of these undelivered prizes, worth £8,230,650. NS&I says that since March 2018 alone there have been 2,431 prizes, worth £66,900, which were never delivered and are waiting to be reclaimed.
And undelivered prizes are only part of the total pot of unclaimed winnings. There are 1,579,333 unclaimed Premium Bond prizes as of March 2019, worth £61,336,375 – see how to check if you're owed.
So if you think a prize might have been sent to you but you haven't received it, it's worth getting in touch with NS&I to have the money resent.
For more on how Premium Bonds work – and whether they're worth it – see our Premium Bonds guide.
How can I get an undelivered prize resent to me?
Some of the undelivered £8 million in prizes date back from the very first prize draw in 1957 – so if you think you might have won a prize in the past but never received the cheque, it's worth contacting NS&I to get it redelivered.
You can get in touch by calling 08085 007 007 or using the web chat service. You can also write to it at NS&I, Glasgow, G58 1SB.
Remember that if your prize wasn't delivered because you'd moved house, you'll need to update the address on your NS&I account before you have the warrant resent – you can do this using your online account, over the phone or by sending a change of details form to NS&I's postal address.
How do I check if I've an unclaimed prize?
Even if you don't think you're owed money from an undelivered prize, there are over 1.5 million Premium Bond prizes still unclaimed in total, so it's still worth checking if you've won.
And as there's no time limit to claims, you can go back as far as you like.
The best way to check whether you have an unclaimed Premium Bond prize depends on what info you have about your Premium Bond account – confusingly, you'll have been given both a Premium Bond holder's number AND an NS&I number:
- If you know your Premium Bond holder's number. You can go to the NS&I website or download its prize checker app. Enter your holder's number and it'll tell you if you've any unclaimed prizes.
- If you don't know your holder's number, but have your NS&I number. You can use that number – which you'll find on any letters from NS&I – as well as your surname and password to log in to NS&I online and find your holder's number on the 'account details' page. NS&I's prize checker app also accepts your NS&I number.
- If you don't know your holder's number or account number. You can phone NS&I on 08085 007 007 or write to it and ask for a replacement bond record to be sent to you. You should give as much detail as you can, for example your full name, address details, when and where you bought your Premium Bonds and how much they're worth.
Alternatively, you can use NS&I's tracing service or the My Lost Account website, both of which can track down your Premium Bond details. They ask you to fill out info about yourself including your name, address, an estimate of how many Premium Bonds you hold and how long you've held them.
You can also claim on behalf of someone who has died – see our Premium Bonds guide for more information.
'Bona fide winners are missing out on their cash'
Megan French, consumer expert at MoneySavingExpert.com, said: "An astounding £8 million of Premium Bond prizes have been returned to NS&I, meaning bona fide winners are missing out on the cash they're owed.
"The prizes are paid by cheque as default, so if you’ve previously won but not asked for your cash to go into your bank account or be reinvested, it’s worth checking if you actually received and cashed your winnings.
"Plus, as a whopper £61 million of Premium Bond prizes are currently sitting unclaimed, it’s also worth checking if you’ve won."
You can opt to be paid straight into your bank account
If you register for NS&I's online or phone services, you can choose to have any prize winnings automatically paid directly into your bank account.
This will save you cashing in your warrant, and ensure it doesn't get lost in the post.
You'll also get your money sooner, as prizes are paid into bank accounts by the seventh working day of the month. Physical warrants, on the other hand, aren't posted until the tenth working day, and you'll then need to wait for them to arrive.
You can ask for your winnings to be paid to your bank account directly using your online NS&I account or by phoning NS&I on 08085 007 007.
You can also choose for any winnings to be automatically used to buy more Premium Bonds, by answering 'yes' to the 'reinvest prizes' option on your online account.
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