Premium Bond prize rate cut to 4.4%

From the March draw you’ve got a lower chance of winning.

After some massive base rate increases from the Bank of England that saw the Premium Bond prize rate hit the highest level since 1999, they’re now on the way down.

Here’s what this means for your chance of winning, and how it compares to the latest best buy savings accounts.

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What are Premium Bonds

Premium Bonds are effectively savings accounts held with the government. Rather than getting interest back on your savings, you are entered into a draw with a top prize each month of £1 million.

Other prizes vary between £25 and £100,000 and if you do win it’s all tax-free. You can read more about how they work here.

The new Prize Rate

From the March 2024 draw, the prize rate is 4.4%. This is down from the 4.65% rate set just in September, which was the eighth increase in just over a year. However it’s still the second highest rate we’ve seen in decades.

Despite the rate drop, the odds of winning are actually the same. They’ll remain at 21,000 to 1. This is down to there actually being fewer prizes, roughly 72,000 less (making a total of 5.77 million available, down from 5.84)

The total prize fund will also decrease, this time by a massive £31 million (there’s now an estimated total prize fund of £444 million). This is down to the change in how many of each prizes are available.

The number of £25 prizes will increase, up by more than 400,000, but that’s at the expense of cuts at the other levels.

There are 230,000 less of each of the next level prizes – £50 and £100. And there are smaller reductions for prizes between £500 and 100,000. There are still just two £1 million prizes.

How much could you win?

Here’s how the new increased draw compares to the one at the start of June 2023. As you can see there are more “higher value” prizes, so if you win you’re likely to win more money than in previous draws, but you’re just as likely to win a prize of some value

Value of prizesNumber and total value of prizes in January 2024Number and total value of prizes in March 2024 (estimate)
£1,000,00022
£100,0009185
£50,000182170
£25,000365339
£10,000912848
£5,0001,8211,697
£1,00019,02017,775
£50057,06053,325
£1002,363,1052,130,923
£502,363,1052,130,923
£251,037,7841,435,338
Total number of prizes:5,843,447 prizes 5,771,425 prizes
Total prize fund:£475,510,350£444,399,400
Source NS&I

Previous Premium Bond prize rates

  • September 2023 – 4.65%
  • July 2023 – 4%
  • June 2023 – 3.75%
  • March 2023 – 3%
  • February 2023 – 3.15%
  • January 2023 – 3%
  • September 2022 – December 2022: 2.2%
  • May 2022 – August 2022: 1.4%
  • December 2020 – April 2022: 1%

What you’ll probably win

It’s hard to give an exact figure on your likely winnings as 4.4% on Premium Bonds doesn’t mean you get £4.4 back for every £100. That’s the average return if you have average luck.

In reality, it’s only those with close to the maximum £50,000 who are likely to get close to this rate (on average – it could be more or less). While those with less than a grand are likely to win nothing at all. So they’re going to be better options for those with more cash, and less good for those with smaller amounts.

The MoneySavingExpert Premium Bonds calculator usually gives a good indication of the wins over a year. However right now it’s showing some odd results, so it’s best avoided for now.

And there’s a good chance you’ll get nothing. Since the smallest prize is £25, you’d think you’d need £569 saved to get the lowest prize (£569 + 4.4% = an extra £25). But it’s not that simple.

With this rate, the odds of a bond (not a person) winning something are 21,000:1. That means for every 21,000 bonds, only one bond will win a prize and 20,999 bonds won’t.

How they compare to savings accounts

The highest paying easy-access savings account right now with no limit on the balance is from Metro, paying 5.22%. That’s better than the Prize Rate of 4.4%, and it’s a guaranteed return on all balances.

And there are even higher paying options with some restrictions. Santander pays 7% on up to £4,000 on its Edge Saver (though it requires a current account) while the Regular Saver from Nationwide offers 8% (though only on £200 a month). These are likely better bets for your initial deposits.

Plus, one-year fixes are still around 5.5% – so if you don’t think you’ll need the money for a year then these blow Premium Bonds out of the water.

However it’s worth noting that any prizes won via Premium Bonds are tax free. With interest rates increasing it could be you’re closer to going over your personal savings allowance, so money in Premium Bonds could help you avoid tax.

Or if you’re an additional rate taxpayer then it’s an option instead or as well as ISAs.

What about future interest cuts?

There were 14 successive interest rate rises from the Bank of England between December 2021 and August 2023 – but they’ve stayed at 5.25% since then. And it’s probable we’ll see cuts to this base rate 2024.

If that happens, it will mean most, if not all, savings accounts will react and move their rates down. Fixed rates have already dropped in anticipation.

This could mean that the top easy access rates from the banks will drop below this new Premium Bonds prize rate. But of course, NS&I could also then drop the prize rate for Premium Bonds again.

Buying Premium Bonds

When to buy Premium Bonds

If you’re tempted by the increased rate, there’s one very important rule you need to know about. Your money needs to have been held in Premium Bonds for a full month before it’s entered into a draw.

That means this March draw will only be for anyone who saves prior to the end of January 2024. It also means it makes sense to deposit money right at the end of a month than at any other time.

How to buy Premium Bonds

You buy PBs from NS&I website or over the phone at a cost of £1 each, but you have to buy at least £25 worth. You have to be over 16 years old to buy Premium Bonds for yourself. If you are buying them for children, the account will be held by the parents/legal guardians until the child reaches 16.

7 thoughts on “Premium Bond prize rate cut to 4.4%

  1. I have the full £50K which were eligible for both the July and August draws and won nothing. Are there any instances of NS&I having system errors that cause Bonds to be excluded from the draw? Can I query this in any way?

    1. It’s all based on luck. Even with the full 50k it’s not certain you will win anything for months. It’s just more likely you’ll win compared to someone with just 1k invested.

  2. Jacqueline Powner March 13, 2023 at 11:18 am

    I have a premium bond that was given to me at birth it’s only a £1 one but was wandering if it was worth anything

  3. I have a few bonds from years ago how can I check if they have ever won a prize. I have changed addresses since they were first purchased and I thought that they had been lost in the moving, they have just been discovered again and I was just wondering about them.

    1. Inform NS and I of your latest address. You can check online if your PB’s have won anything.

  4. But Al-Rayan’s 2.1% is not actually guaranteed, nor more importantly is it tax free (although the recent “mini-budget” has made this less important now.

    1. It is actually tax free and always has been.

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