Martin Lewis gives updated advice on premium bonds
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Martin Lewis warned tonight on his Money Show that around two million Premium Bonds prizes are unclaimed at the moment. This equates to around £74million being missed but fortunately, it’s not too late to track down these missing fortunes.
What to do
Martin said: “Generally, if your letter got lost or you haven’t updated your contact details but you know your number, just go on the NS&I website and check if you’ve won.
“If you don’t know your number, you can ask NS&I for a form [which allows people] to get a special reclaim number. Or you can use mylostaccount.org.uk, which also can find any lost bank accounts or savings that are available.
“So it really is worth checking this if you think you may have had Premium Bonds at some point.”
Today, MoneySavingExpert.com explained it had seen data from NS&I which showed where many of these Premium Bonds are based. Out of the 2,079,568 prizes which have been left unclaimed, London and the South East have over 700,000, while in Scotland there are more than 120,000.
Helen Saxon, banking editor at MoneySavingExpert.com, commented: “The headline figure of £74million is eye-catching, and hopefully it will serve as a kick up the backside for those who haven’t checked in a while whether they’ve won.
“Many people find the months leading up to Christmas play havoc with their finances, so it’s an ideal time of year to see if you’re due a windfall.
“For some due larger prizes, these really are life-changing amounts of money. So check now and remember (with apologies to the lottery) it could be you!”
While Martin urged savers to track down their Premium Bonds today, last week the Money Saving Expert cautioned against putting too much hope in winning the prizes.
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“It’s all about the probability!”
In last week’s episode, Martin covered Premium Bonds odds. He said: “The prize fund with Premium Bonds is one percent. So you’d expect you’d win one percent of what you put in each year. But of course the smallest prize is £25. So if you’ve got £100 in Bonds, you can’t win one percent, the least you can win is £25.
“So, essentially, it’s all about the probability! What you have to understand is for everyone who wins £1million, a lot of people must pay nothing.”
Martin continued by breaking down individuals “typical luck” with how this pans out.
“The typical luck I would define is if we lined people up and everyone had the same amount of Premium Bonds, in order of the person who won the most to the least – I’d pick the one in the middle,” he said.
“That’s the median average.If you got up to around £1,900 in, with typical luck, you’ll win absolutely nothing.
“Then it sharply rises and keeps getting higher until you get to the £50,000. At this point, with typical luck, you’d win about 0.9 percent or £450 per year.
“That’s still less than the prize fund because of all of those million pound winners.”
Premium Bonds are not the only savings product on offer at NS&I. The institution has a range of savings and ISA accounts available and in recent weeks, NS&I launched a Green Savings Bonds.
This bond allows savers to invest their money in green projects and initiatives but as the details were released in late October, it emerged the bonds would only pay a 0.65 percent gross/AER fixed-rate over a three-year term. Martin condemned this rate at the time, noting only savers who put their morals over their money will see the upside.
Martin said: “The Chancellor must really hope that the nation is wearing green trousers as the rate being offered is pants.
“It’s only paying 0.65 percent interest a year, a paltry amount compared to what’s available on the open market – it only just matches the top easy-access savings account, yet with the Green Bonds you have no access to your money and it’s locked away for three years.
“The right comparison is to the top three-year fixed savings account and that pays nearly three times what the Green Bonds are paying. And while NS&I is as safe as it gets, with all UK regulated savings institutions you are protected up to £85,000 per person, so that has no practical advantage for most.
“This is quite simply not an account that those whose focus is maximising interest will look at – it’s likely only something those willing to sacrifice substantial interest in order to support what they hope will be green causes are likely to consider.”
NS&I has seen a mass exodus of savers in recent months, which was put down to the company drastically cutting interest rates in late 2020. In late August, data from NS&I showed Britons withdrew around £13billion from NS&I between April and June 2021.
This was more than double the £6.1billion taken out in 2020.
NS&I addressed these results at the time: “The impact of the interest rate reductions made by NS&I towards the end of 2020 has continued to be reflected in the volume of outflows NS&I experienced in Q1 2021-22, while the opening up of the economy has also had an effect on savers’ behaviour.”
In September 2020, Ian Ackerley, the NS&I Chief Executive, addressed the need for the cuts: “Reducing interest rates is always a difficult decision.
“In April we cancelled interest rate reductions announced in February and scheduled for May 1. Given successive reductions in the Bank of England base rate in March, and subsequent reductions in interest rates by other providers, several of our products have become ‘best buy’ and we have experienced extremely high demand as a consequence.
“It is important that we strike a balance between the interests of savers, taxpayers and the broader financial services sector; and it is time for NS&I to return to a more normal competitive position for our products.”
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