Skip to Content

Do old Premium Bonds still win?

Premium Bonds are a popular way for UK savers to potentially win prizes while still retaining access to their money. Premium Bonds were first introduced by Harold Macmillan in 1956 and are issued by National Savings and Investments (NS&I) on behalf of HM Treasury.

When you buy Premium Bonds, you are entered into a monthly prize draw where you can win tax-free prizes between £25 and £1 million. Unlike a savings account, Premium Bonds don’t earn interest – your chance of winning is based on the number of £1 bonds you hold.

Do old Premium Bonds still qualify for prizes?

Yes, old Premium Bonds that you have held for years or even decades will still qualify for prizes in each monthly draw. Premium Bonds remain entered in each prize draw until they are cashed in – they do not have an expiry date. So even if you purchased Premium Bonds 30 or 40 years ago, they will still have exactly the same chance in each monthly prize draw.

The key factor that determines your chances of winning prizes is the total number of eligible £1 Premium Bonds you hold, not how long you have held them. If you’ve kept old Premium Bonds over the decades, they will have accumulated many entries into the prize draws so may have a good chance of winning.

Do prize odds change over time?

The estimated prize odds for Premium Bonds have changed over the decades:

Era Estimated prize odds
1957 to 1959 5,000 to 1
1960 to 1968 10,000 to 1
1969 to 1993 24,500 to 1
1994 to 2020 24,000 to 1
June 2021 onwards 34,500 to 1

So if you have held onto old Premium Bonds, their estimated individual prize odds will have got longer over time as more bonds have entered circulation. However, because you will have accumulated more bonds and entries if you have held them long-term, your overall chance of winning has likely improved.

Do the prizes change over time?

The prizes on offer have changed over time too. In 1957, the top prize was just £1,000. Today it is £1 million and there are millions more prizes on offer:

Prize 1957 2023
£1 million 2
£100,000 22
£50,000 45
£25,000 122
£10,000 215
£5,000 899
£1,000 80 11,724
£500 22,504
£100 1,600 338,811
£50 12,000 617,559
£25 108,000 1,473,735

So there are many more big prizes up for grabs now which means old Premium Bonds have a greater chance of winning substantial sums of money today.

Do old bonds have a better chance of winning?

All Premium Bonds purchased since the very first issue in 1957 remain eligible for prizes, as long as you have not cashed them in. This means some of the longest-held Premium Bonds may date back over 60 years.

There is a common theory that older bonds have a better chance of winning than newer bonds. This is because new bonds issued in the last few years will generally have a lower bond number in the billions or hundreds of millions range, whereas bonds from decades ago tend to have higher numbers in the hundreds of billions.

However, according to NS&I, a bond’s age and number have no impact on its chances of winning. Each and every eligible £1 bond has exactly the same odds of picking up prizes – currently 34,500 to 1. The winning bond numbers are randomly generated for each monthly draw.

So in theory, a bond purchased in 1957 has the same probability of winning as one purchased last month. Having older bonds will not boost your chances, but simply mean you have accumulated more entries over time, so a higher overall chance of success due to larger holdings.

How have total holdings changed over time?

The total number and value of Premium Bonds in circulation has grown enormously since 1957:

Year Total bonds Total holdings
1957 6 million £6 million
1967 28.5 million £28.5 million
1977 94 million £94 million
1987 209 million £209 million
1997 873 million £873 million
2007 3 billion £3 billion
2017 88 billion £88 billion
October 2022 113 billion £113 billion

The massive growth in Premium Bonds in circulation increases the chance that some of the longest-held bonds from the 1950s, 1960s or 1970s will have a winning number picked. There are simply far more bonds in the draws now.

Are my old bonds still valid?

Provided you have kept your old Premium Bonds and not cashed them in, they will still be eligible to win a prize in every monthly draw. Bonds that have been held for decades will have accumulated many entries in the prize draws over time.

According to NS&I records, there are still around 1.8 million Premium Bonds holding an investment dating back to 1957 when they first launched. These bonds will now be 65 years old but remain valid.

Even if you cannot find the physical paper bonds, provided they are on NS&I’s database and were registered in your name or purchased as a gift for you, the bonds can still win prizes. As long as you have not cashed them in, old bonds remain valid forever.

Can I still find details of old bonds?

If you held old Premium Bonds some time ago, you can still find details by contacting NS&I. The minimum information required is your:

  • Name (and previous names)
  • Date of birth
  • Address history
  • Premium Bonds holder’s number (if known)

NS&I keeps records of all Premium Bonds purchases and holdings. Even if you no longer have the paper bonds or the numbers, their system will have your historical purchase information.

You can call NS&I on 08085 007 007 or use their tracing service online to find old bonds. The online tracing service requires you to have registered for NS&I’s online service.

How do I manage old Premium Bonds?

If you find old Premium Bonds you have forgotten about or that were purchased decades ago, there are a few options:

  • Leave them invested to continue to earn prizes
  • Cash them in for a refund of your investment
  • Transfer them to another person as a gift

You can check for any prizes owed on old bonds and manage them in the same way as your current holdings. Prizes due will be added to your balance if you provide your bank details to NS&I.

If you wish to gift bonds to someone else, NS&I will need to see ID and confirmation for both the current and new registered holders before a transfer of ownership.

Do old bonds have an advantage for prizes?

While all bonds have identical odds, some features of older bonds may give a slight advantage:

  • Higher bond numbers – the numbering sequence started from 000000001 in 1957
  • Higher total holdings – long-term investors will have accumulated more bonds
  • Retained prizes – prizes owed on old bonds may still await collection
  • Tax benefits – no deduction of Income Tax on prizes before April 1974

So while the base odds are the same, some quirks around age of bonds, number of holdings and tax over the decades may benefit those with older bonds. But in theory, any bond could win big.

What are the tax advantages of old bonds?

One significant advantage of Premium Bonds purchased before April 1974 is that any prizes won are completely tax-free. This is because Income Tax was not deducted from prizes before this date.

So if you hold old bonds purchased before 1974 and win a prize today on them, you get the full amount tax-free. This includes any large or jackpot sums.

For example, if you won £25,000 on pre-1974 Premium Bonds, you would get the whole £25,000. If you won that on newer bonds, £5,000 tax would be deducted first.

Could I win big on decades old bonds?

In theory, any Premium Bond number – whether purchased 60 years ago or 6 months ago – has the chance to be randomly selected as a big winner. Just because you have held onto a bond for a long time does not automatically make it more likely to win than a newer bond.

In April 2022, a Premium Bonds holder from Kent won £25,000 on a bond they had held for 36 years. The winning bond number had been purchased back in February 1986 and remained eligible despite being over three decades old.

So although older bonds do not have better odds, it is still possible to win substantial sums on bonds you purchased many years ago and forgot you had. Checking old records for bonds you may have is worthwhile.

Are prizes still available decades later?

One downside of holding onto Premium Bonds for very long periods is that any prizes owed may expire after some time:

  • For bonds held before 1975, prizes will expire after 10 years
  • For bonds held since 1975, prizes expire after 3 years

So it is important to keep your details with NS&I up to date. Prizes due on newly won bonds or unclaimed prizes owed on older bonds do expire after a number of years if they cannot be paid out to you.

However, as long as you have provided valid bank details, prizes due on old or new bonds should be received each month. Expiry of prizes is only an issue if you held bonds previously but no longer have accurate contact details associated with them.

What are the best approaches to checking old bonds?

If you are keen to uncover whether you have any old Premium Bonds you had forgotten about or inherited, there are a few approaches:

  • Check paperwork, bank statements, passbooks for any reference to bonds purchased
  • Search for certificates or bond stubs which may note purchase dates
  • Ask relatives if bonds were purchased as gifts for you
  • Call NS&I to trace any holdings using your personal details
  • Use NS&I’s online tracing system to find bonds without paperwork

The key details NS&I will want are your name, date of birth, address history and any Premium Bond reference numbers you can find. Tracing old bonds is easiest with official paperwork but still possible without.

How can I re-connect with lost bonds?

If you have discovered old Premium Bonds through NS&I’s tracing service or records passed down through your family, you will need to re-register them in your name before you can start receiving any prizes or manage the holdings.

The steps to re-connect with lost or old bonds are:

  1. Contact NS&I to trace your holdings if you don’t have paperwork
  2. Confirm the bonds and any unclaimed prizes from NS&I records
  3. Formally register the bonds in your name by application
  4. Provide valid bank details to have prizes paid to you

You may need to provide ID, proof of address, details of previous addresses and other confirmation to satisfy NS&I you are legally entitled to the old bonds and prizes. But the tracing process helps locate any bonds you may have forgotten.

Should I cash in old Premium Bonds?

If you need accessible cash or have a better use for money invested decades ago, cashing in old Premium Bonds is reasonable. The key considerations are:

  • Prizes expire after some time so Check for any unclaimed winnings
  • You lose future chances of prizes if bonds are cashed in
  • Interest rates are higher now for savings so may be better options
  • Leaving bonds invested requires no action and they stay eligible

Cashing in old bonds means you lose any chance of future tax-free prizes on those holdings. But equally you could use the money elsewhere or must access it.

If cashing in, always check first for any prizes owed on the bonds – particularly those purchased before April 1974 when prizes were all tax-free.


In summary, old Premium Bonds can still deliver tax-free prizes decades after purchase. The bonds never expire or become invalid – as long as you hold onto them and remain registered, old bonds stay eligible for the monthly prize draws forever.

Tracing bonds from many years ago is possible by contacting NS&I. Re-registering yourself against lost bonds allows prizes to be claimed. While old bonds have no better odds, the tax quirks, higher numbers and accumulated holdings with age can make them worth digging out.