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Decades-old Premium Bonds fail to win any prize

Premium Bonds
Premium Bonds

Have you got an old premium bond account that has never won? Email money@telegraph.co.uk

Thousands of Premium Bond holders who opened their accounts more than two decades ago have not yet won a prize, Telegraph analysis has found.

More than 460,000 savers invested in government-backed accounts 20 years ago. Of the accounts still open, 44,900 have yet to win even £25, according to NS&I figures.

Premium Bonds are Britain’s most popular savings product. The Treasury-backed scheme – run by National Savings & Investments (NS&I) – was launched in 1957 to boost post-war savings, but records only extend back until May 2004.

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Money invested in Premium Bonds can win savers between £25 to £1m, with the odds improving the more money is invested.

Prizes are tax-free, and there are no penalties for cashing in bonds, meaning they operate similarly to an easy-access savings account.

In the last 20 years, almost 12 million Premium Bond accounts have been opened, NS&I figures show. Of these, 8.1 million remain open and 3.7 million are closed.

NS&I’s data show that 7.9 million accounts have won prizes since 2004. But nearly 4 million of the accounts still open have never won a prize.

Rachel Springall, of analyst Moneyfacts, said Premium Bonds had remained a popular product as the investment was safely backed by the Government.

But she added: “The reality is that not everyone has been winning a prize after years of investment, and in fact, would be losing value on their investment in real terms due to the eroding influence of inflation.

“Even still, some consumers may be reluctant to cash in their Premium Bond after such a long period of time.”

Thousands of Britons are believed to hold money in decades-old Premium Bonds – NS&I suggests they “make a great gift for any occasion, and can also help kick start a healthy savings habit”.

Ms Sprignall said: “Consumers can easily check the NS&I prize checker online if they think they might have an old Premium Bond, this could well be the case for families who opened a bond for a child as a gift many years ago.”

Premium Bonds were formerly the default choice for prudent savers when interest rates were low. But there are now several fixed bonds that pay upwards of 5pc, Moneyfacts said.

Anna Bowes, of consumer website Savings Champion, said the appeal of Premium Bonds for some is “still the thrill of what could happen that keeps them invested”.

She added: “The lower the holding that you have in Premium Bonds, the less chance you’ll have of winning a prize regularly – or indeed at all.

“The odds for each bond to win is 21,000:1, which is the same for everyone, although clearly the more bonds you have the greater the chance of winning something.

“What you need to consider is how important it is if you were to miss out on the interest you could earn elsewhere if you win no prizes.

“With the top easy access accounts paying around 5pc, someone with a balance of £1,000 could be missing out on earning £50 a year in gross interest.

“As a result, it could be worth missing out on that, even though the possibility of winning a prize to beat that is highly unlikely.”

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