More than 2.1 million Premium Bond prizes unclaimed – check if you've won
Over 2.1 million Premium Bonds prizes are yet to be claimed – 500,000 more than first thought – new figures obtained by MoneySavingExpert.com reveal. If you have or have ever had Premium Bonds, here's how to check if you've won.
Official figures released in August by NS&I, which runs Premium Bonds, stated that there were 1,647,543 unclaimed prizes, worth a total of £63,062,725.
But prizes must be at least 18 months old to be counted as "unclaimed" in the official figures – and new data obtained by MoneySavingExpert under the Freedom of Information Act shows another 500,000 Premium Bond prizes worth almost £14 million have been won in the last 18 months but remain unclaimed.
Combining the two sets of figures suggests that, in total, up to 2.16 million Premium Bond prizes worth almost £77 million are actually unclaimed – though of course a few of the prizes included in the August stats may now have been claimed by their winner.
For more on how Premium Bonds work – and whether they're worth it – see our Premium Bonds guide.
How many extra unclaimed prizes are there?
NS&I sends winners their prizes by post in the form of a warrant – like a cheque – unless they've opted to be paid straight into their bank account. Warrants are valid for three months, so the data we've obtained doesn't include prizes that are less than three months old.
Here's a summary of the number of unclaimed prizes out there:
What are Premium Bonds?
Premium Bonds are effectively a savings account you can put money into, where instead of savers earning interest, tax-free prizes are awarded in a monthly prize draw – meaning there's no guarantee you'll get any return on your money. Prizes range from £25 to a whopping £1 million. In October 2019, 3,392,720 prizes were won, worth £96,975,175.
It's worth bearing in mind that the nearest thing Premium Bonds have to an interest rate is their annual prize rate, which means 'on average' the annual return is 1.4% – but in reality, this is just a vague benchmark and there's no guarantee you'll win anything at all. See our Premium Bonds guide for full info.
I've got an expired warrant – what can I do?
The warrants sent out by NS&I expire three months after the date written on them (although ultimately it's up to your bank whether it accepts the warrant after it's gone out of date).
If you've got a warrant that's no longer valid, NS&I says you can just get in touch and it'll send you a new one.
And if you don't want to have to cash in a warrant every time you win a prize, you can opt to be paid directly to your bank account instead.
How do I check if I've an unclaimed prize?
NS&I says it contacts every winner, but sometimes prizes go unclaimed for reasons such as the letter getting lost in the post or address details not being updated.
If you're not sure whether or not you have an unclaimed prize, the best way to check 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.
How to claim your prize if you've won
If you find you do have an unclaimed prize, you'll need to write to NS&I to tell it at: NS&I, Glasgow, G58 1SB. Give as much information as you can, including:
- Holder's number.
- Current name.
- Any previous names.
- Current address.
- Any previous addresses where bonds may have been registered.
Prizes will then be sent to your home address as a warrant, which is like a cheque.
If the bond holder has passed away, it is still possible to claim on their behalf, though the process is slightly different – you'd first need to inform NS&I of the death and then follow the steps above.
Any prize money will be paid to whoever inherits the bond holder's estate.
Get future prizes paid directly into your bank account
Unfortunately, you can't have existing prizes paid directly into your bank account – you'll need to go through the processes above to get a valid warrant to cash in.
But you can make sure you don't miss future prizes by having them paid straight to your bank.
You can set this up as long as you're registered for NS&I's online and phone services.