Tea and crumpets. Cricket. Constantly talking about the weather. Premium Bonds. All of these are unequivocally British and the last has captured the imagination like no other financial product since launching in the 1950s.
When I interviewed Agent Million some seven years ago – the person whose job it is to deliver £1million jackpot news to people across the land each month – a thread went viral on website Reddit.
Essentially, a largely American audience couldn’t believe such a product existed: a lottery in which you can play and get your stake back. Bonkers.
Good piggy: Premium Bonds are a better gift for youngsters than throwaway toys – especially if you club together
It’s safe to say, they are hugely popular. Nearly 22million people have saved more than £81billion into them via National Savings & Investments, a figure growing all the time and it’s easy to see why.
You can hold up to £50,000 in Bonds, which are backed by the Government and can now be easily opened online. But crucially, they tap into our desire to win life-changing prizes – there are two £1million jackpot prizes each month.
This weekend, it is my niece’s 1st birthday. She doesn’t need any more toys or clothes to clutter up the home – but that leaves a slim gift list.
Thanks to changes this month, I can now directly buy her Premium Bonds, if I so wish. Before, I would have had to have given the money to my sister, who would then need to go through the process.
Now, aunts, uncles, godparents and even family friends can gift Premium Bonds from as little as £25 (the minimum amount has also recently changed).
It’s worth bearing in mind the nominated parent or guardian – in this case my sister -will manage and ultimately be able to cash in the Bonds.
The chances of winning anything – let alone £1million – are slimmer than slim if you hold £25 worth. Even if I bought her £50 worth, with average luck, you’d win nothing in five years of holding them.
Only one in nine would win anything with this holding over that time-frame including the minimum prize of £25.
Howzat! Premium Bonds are as British as cricket and with nearly 100 x £10,000+ prizes up for grabs, can give as much excitement as The Ashes
Taking a look at the list of £10,000+ winners for August 2019 – of which there were 96 – nearly half, or 45, were won by those holding the maximum amount: £50,000.
One lucky person in Greater Manchester won £10,000 from a £100 holding. There are six other examples out of that 96 – £10,000+ winners for August who won a five-figure sum holding four figures or less:
One winner won £50,000 from £8,000, one £25,000 holding £7,689 – while £10,000 was won by people holding £7,200, £3,000, £2,500 and £1,700. It does happen.
What this indicates to me is you need to have a fairly sizeable chunk invested in Premium Bonds – anything below a four-figure sum is unlikely to bare significant fruit unless you are incredibly lucky.
Premium Bonds Winners
|Prize||Area||Value of bond|
More February 2020 winners
One option is clubbing together with other family members – start buying them every birthday and Christmas. My niece would soon build up a tidy nest egg, rather than a messy toy stack, with this route.
All that is needed is the child’s Premium Bond holder’s number which will be created when the first Bonds are bought.
Let’s say me, my brother, mum, and dad all clubbed together to buy £50 of Premium Bonds at the same two junctures each year.
That would result in £6,400 in Bonds by the time she is 16, improving her odds of winning each year.
The money is about as ‘safe’ as it can be – casting inflation aside – but returns could be superior elsewhere.
For example, if you’re able to bag returns of five per cent a year investing an equivalent amount, that £6,400 would grow to nearly £10,000 in 16 years.
That is of course a big if, but achievable.
Even a Junior Isa – of which NS&I offers a superior 3.25 per cent compared to the Premium Bond underlying rate of 1.4 per cent – would grow that pot to nearly £8,500, which currently beats inflation.
With ‘typical’ luck, that £6,400 would turn into little more than £7,000 with Premium Bonds.
That said, neither offer that excitement factor of potentially winning a life-changing sum of money with so little.
I won’t be surprised to see the NS&I coffers swell with this move – they could be the ultimate present from unimaginative aunts and uncles for awkward-to-buy-for little ones.
NS&I research revealed that two in five of people who gifted cash to a child aged under 16 has, within the last year, given to a relative that wasn’t their own child or grandchild. A third gifted between £25 and £50.
It is also a good way of explaining – and showing – children the savings habit as they grow-up, something that I’m keen to do for my own young daughter and extended family.
The products are already a popular savings product for the under 16s – more than 750,000 have them and on average, hold around £1,500, NS&I says.
With average luck, over five years, you’d expect a return of £100 on this.
Since the £1million jackpot was launched 25 years ago, ten under 16s have scooped the top prize and this August, 50,000 prizes were won by the under 16s, the largest of which was £5,000.
Nearly £400million worth of Premium Bonds have been bought for children under 16 since August 2018 and of those, over 64,000 have won prizes including one of £10,000 and 36 prizes worth £1,000.
That’s plenty of tea and crumpets, tickets to watch the cricket – or enough to get away and talk about the weather some place more exotic.
THIS IS MONEY’S FIVE OF THE BEST SAVINGS DEALS
Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.