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Happy 60th birthday to Premium Bonds

Six things you might not know about Premium Bonds

Happy birthday Premium Bonds! It’s 60 years today since they were introduced and to date National Savings and Investment (NS&I), aided by ERNIE, has given out £16.9 billion in prizes.

Despite these impressive returns, there’s an estimated £53.9 million in unclaimed prizes.

It’s easy to think of Premium Bonds as something from your parents’ or grandparents’ generation. But with interest rates today at a record low, a protected investment with tax-free cash prizes might seem like a good idea.

In fact, £21 million of Premium Bonds are sold every day and 40% of the population own them.

So to mark this important milestone, here are six things you might not know about Premium Bonds, one for each decade they have been around.

What are the odds?

Your chances of winning the Lotto jackpot are roughly one in 14 million. Euromillions is a bit trickier at one in 140 million. The odds of any bond number being selected are just one in 30,000.

How much to get started?

When they were first launched, you could invest in Premium Bonds for as little as £1, up to a maximum of £500. Today you need £100 to get you started, up to a maximum of £50,000.

‘Saving with a thrill’?

This was the slogan used when Premium Bonds were launched by Prime Minister Harold Macmillan in 1956.

In it for the long-run

A total of £5 million of Premium Bonds were sold on the first day and 41,000 bonds bought in November 1956 are still eligible for the prize draw.

Surprising sidelines

Until the late 1980s there was an annual Miss Premium Bond competition. All contestants were NS&I employees and it was run at the annual Civil Service sports and social club day.

Creating ERNIE

The Electronic Random Number Indicator Equipment (ERNIE) is the machine used to pick Premium Bond winners. It was invented by Tom Flowers, who worked as a codebreaker at Bletchley Park. 

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