Two lucky savers have been made instant millionaires after winning the top prize in the July premium bonds draw.
A woman from Cumbria and a man from Dorset pocketed £1m each from National Savings and Investments (NS&I), with the winning numbers 200CF877271 and 262CH557538. The winners held bonds worth £30,000 and just over £40,000, respectively.
Around £2.3m in prizes were handed out in July’s draw, with more than 21 million people taking part across the UK. All winners are announced on NS&I’s premium bonds website at the start of each month.
Which? explains how the prize draw works and how you can improve your odds of winning.
Find out more: Premium bonds explained
What are my chances of winning the draw?
On average, a person holding an NS&I bond will get a return of 1.15% – meaning if you have average luck, you’re likely to win prizes worth around 1.15% of your investment.
As of May 2017, the NS&I awards 2,224,513 prizes every month. Of these, 2,076,942 are worth the lowest prize band of £25.
Two winners each month are awarded the £1m jackpot, while another three take home £100,000. Winners are chosen at random by the NS&I’s random number generating computer, known as ERNIE, and all winnings are tax-free.
How can I improve my odds of winning?
The odds of any particular bond number winning a prize each month are 30,000 to one. But the more bonds you buy, the better your chances of winning. To have a decent shot at a prize over the course of a year, you’ll need at least £1,000 worth of bonds.
Once you invest £10,000 (or take out 10,000 bonds), your chances of winning at least one prize become a near-certainty. But keep in mind your winnings could be low as £25, meaning a return of just 0.25% – well below the interest on an ordinary savings account.
Premium bonds come with a slim chance of striking it rich – but returns are not guaranteed. If you want to make a regular income from your savings, you’d be better off holding your money in a savings account or Isa.
What happens if I win?
If you’ve won, you’ll be notified by post, unless you win the £1m. Winners of the grand prize are notified in person by NS&I.
If you think you may have won but have not received a notification, you can use NS&I’s online code checker. In some cases, you may hold bonds but have lost the documentation. If you think this might be the case, you can use NS&I’s tracing service.
How do premium bonds work?
The Government-backed lottery bond, founded by Prime Minister Harold Macmillan in 1956, is the UK’s favourite savings account. Savers buy bonds which are then entered into a monthly prize draw.
These are then bought back by the government for their original price, plus an annual prize interest rate of 1.15%. All prizes are tax free and there are no penalties for withdrawals. To be in with a chance of winning you need to save between £100 and £50,000.