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How to buy scratch cards UK?

What is a scratch card?

A scratch card is a small card, usually made of thin paper-based card, where one or more areas contain concealed information which can be revealed by scratching off an opaque covering. Scratch cards are most commonly used as a form of instant lottery or game. Scratch cards developed from a lottery game invented and sold in 1974 by John Koza and Daniel Bower.

In the UK, scratch cards are a popular form of gambling regulated by the Gambling Commission. Major providers in the UK include the National Lottery, Camelot Group, Scientific Games and Gamesys. Scratch cards come in a range of prices from £1 up to £5 or £10 and generally have cash prizes up to £500,000 for the more expensive cards. Some scratch cards also offer non-cash or combination prizes such as cars, holidays and electronics.

Where can I buy scratch cards in the UK?

There are several places you can buy scratch cards in the UK:

– Newsagents – Most local newsagents, corner shops and convenience stores sell a range of National Lottery and other branded scratch cards. This is the most common place to buy them.

– Supermarkets – Larger supermarkets often have dedicated lottery booths or counters selling scratch cards along with other lottery games.

– Post offices – Many post office branches sell National Lottery scratch cards over the counter.

– Petrol stations – Some petrol station shops sell a selection of scratch cards.

– Online – You can buy National Lottery and some other scratch cards online through the official apps or website. You must be over 16 and have a bank account.

– Online retailers – There are some online retailers that specialise in selling scratch cards from different providers. They will deliver them to your door.

– National Lottery retailers – There are around 44,500 authorised National Lottery retailers around the UK where you can purchase scratch cards. Look for the blue National Lottery signs.

So in summary, newsagents, supermarkets, post offices and petrol stations are the most convenient places to quickly pick up scratch cards in stores across the UK. You can also buy them online.

What different scratch cards can I buy in the UK?

The main options for scratch card brands and games in the UK are:

– National Lottery scratch cards – The most popular brand. £1, £2, £5 and £10 cards available with top prizes up to £500,000.

– Postcode Lottery – £10 scratch cards with a top prize of £30,000 per month for a year.

– Health Lottery – £1, £2 and £5 scratch cards with a top prize of £100,000. Run by Northern & Shell.

– People’s Postcode Lottery – £10 scratch cards with a top prize of £30,000 per month for a year.

– Bespoke Lottery scratch cards – £2 and £4 scratch cards with luxury car prizes.

– ITV7 scratch cards – Based on TV game shows with £5k and £10k prizes.

– Christmas scratch cards – Special editions from brands above with festive themes and prizes.

– Casinos and arcades – May offer own branded scratch cards with cash prizes up to £500.

– Other brands – Smaller brands like Addleshaw Goddard, Prime Gaming may offer scratch cards to customers.

So the National Lottery has by far the widest range of scratch card options, prices and prizes. But there are plenty of alternatives from other well known gambling and lottery brands.

What types of National Lottery scratch cards can I buy?

The UK National Lottery offers different scratch card games and prizes across various price points:

– £1 scratch cards – Range of 5 popular games like Monopoly and Lady Luck. Match symbols or serial numbers. Top prize £100.

– £2 scratch cards – Games like Cool Cash and Pharaoh’s Fortune. Match symbols, numbers, uncover dice rolls. Top prize £5,000.

– £5 scratch cards – Bigger range of games like Big Bonanza and £5M Mega Cash. Reveal cash amounts, beat dealer’s card, match symbols. Top prize £100,000.

– £10 scratch cards – Exclusive games like £10M Golden Ball and Diamond Dazzler. Bigger gameplay areas, more complex rules. Top prize £500,000.

– Instant win family – Cheaper £1-£2 scratch cards with heavily stylised family, holiday, romance and celebration themes.

– Online exclusives – Extra digital games only available online like Gorilla Go Wild and Penguin Pays.

– Limited editions – Special runs of cards like Winter Win and Summer Sizzler with seasonal themes.

So National Lottery scratch cards range from £1 for a quick, impulse purchase up to £10 for a more substantial play experience and the chance to win a life changing jackpot. There are new exclusive games appearing all the time.

What are the odds of winning on scratch cards?

Scratch card odds of winning vary between different games and providers, but they are never favorable to the player. Some typical odds across popular UK National Lottery scratch cards include:

– £1 scratch card – Overall odds 1 in 4.56 of winning any prize. Odds range from 1 in 5 to win £2 up to 1 in 150,000 chance to win the £100 top prize.

– £2 scratch card – Overall odds 1 in 4.71. Range from 1 in 7.5 to win £5 up to 1 in 600,000 chance of £5,000 top prize.

– £5 scratch card – Overall odds 1 in 3.95. From 1 in 10 chance to win £5 up to 1 in 2,000,000 to win £100k jackpot.

– £10 scratch card – Overall odds 1 in 3.44. Between 1 in 12 for £10 prize up to 1 in over 15,000,000 for £500k top prize.

So for a typical £5 National Lottery scratch card:
– 55% chance to win back the £5 spent
– 1 in 100 wins £20
– 1 in 2,631 wins £1,000
– 1 in 2 million wins £100,000 jackpot

The rough chance of winning increases along with the price paid for the scratch card. But the odds are still stacked against the player in favor of the provider. Many people play for entertainment, not expectation of profit.

How do National Lottery Scratchcards work?

National Lottery scratchcards are very easy to play. The basic steps are:

1. Choose a scratchcard price and design you like from the options on display. Popular games are flagged.

2. Hand your selected card to the cashier at a shop along with your payment of £1, £2, £5 or £10. You must be over 16 to play.

3. The cashier scans the barcode to activate the card which prints the unique game data. Do not scratch before scanning!

4. Scratch off the covered panels on the card to reveal symbols, numbers or dice rolls. Follow the game rules on how to win.

5. If you reveal matching or winning combinations of symbols then you win the corresponding prize for that card.

6. Smaller prizes up to £500 can be redeemed straight away in-store. Larger wins need special validation at a retailer.

7. Once all panels are scratched, check the barcode again on the National Lottery app to validate and redeem any digital prizes too.

8. Retailers will pay smaller prizes in cash. Larger wins are paid by cheque or into your bank account.

9. Players have 180 days from the scratchcard game closing to claim any unredeemed prizes. Don’t miss out!

So National Lottery scratchcards provide a fun, straightforward gambling experience with the chance of winning big from just a small cash outlay.

What are the age restrictions on scratch cards?

There are legal age restrictions in place on who can buy and play scratch cards in the UK:

– You must be aged 16 or over to purchase or play National Lottery scratchcards, in stores or online.

– This minimum age of 16 applies to all UK National Lottery games including draw tickets and online instant win games.

– For private scratch cards from other providers eg at casinos, arcades or online, you must be aged 18 or over to play.

– There is no upper age limit for purchasing scratch cards – they are open to players of all ages over 16/18 depending on the game.

– When buying in stores, you may be asked to show ID like a passport, driving licence, PASS card or other age verified document.

– Licensed retailers can face fines of up to £10,000 for selling National Lottery cards to under 16s.

– If underage players attempt to claim a scratchcard prize, it will be invalid and will not be paid out.

So the minimum age is 16 for National Lottery and 18 for other private scratch card games in the UK. Proof of ID may be required, especially for younger looking players. Retailers are required to adhere strictly to age restrictions.

Are there any buying restrictions?

Yes, there are some restrictions in place around how many scratchcards can be purchased:

– In stores, most retailers voluntarily limit National Lottery scratchcard sales to a maximum of £100 of cards per transaction.

– The aim is to encourage responsible gambling and prevent excessive spending in one go.

– Some individual retailers may set lower voluntary limits like £50 or £20 per transaction.

– There are otherwise currently no mandatory limits on how many scratchcards you can buy in one purchase.

– When buying National Lottery cards online, the default limit is £350 of cards per transaction, but this can be increased by contacting customer support.

– For private scratchcards sold online, the per-transaction limit can vary between providers.

– Some limitations may also be placed on the number of scratchcards sold to an individual player per day or per week.

So while there are no hard legal limits, voluntary restrictions per transaction are common amongst retailers. This aims to encourage responsible gambling on scratch cards in the UK.

What is the best strategy for winning on scratch cards?

There is no guaranteed strategy or trick for increasing your chances of winning on scratch cards:

– As games of pure chance, the odds are ultimately random and wins are unpredictable.

– Avoid buying “cheat sheets” or “winning systems” which scammers falsely claim beat the odds.

– That said, some general tips that may improve your play experience:

– Play progressively – Start low with £1 or £2 cards and gradually increase to more expensive cards.

– Spread out buys – Don’t blow your budget on one go. Buy a few cards at a time over a period.

– Avoid repeats – Pick cards with designs and themes you haven’t tried before.

– Patience pays – Take time scratching and checking thoroughly for winners.

– Enter codes – Don’t forget to check online for additional digital prizes.

– Keepvaried – Rotate different brands and game styles to stay interested.

– Set budgets – Decide affordable spending limits and stick to them.

– Have fun! – Playing responsibly enhances the experience.

The luck element means there really is no surefire strategy for winning big on scratch cards. But enjoying the experience sensibly gives you as much chance as anyone.

What are the biggest scratch card prizes won in the UK?

Here are some of the biggest headline scratchcard prizes claimed by lucky UK players:

– £4 million win – Highest ever UK scratchcard prize won on a National Lottery £10 card in 2021. Won by Mr R from Lancashire on the £4M Red scratchcard game.

– £3 million win – Two players have won this record prize on a £10 National Lottery scratchcard – Angela Kelly in 2017 and Patrick Bannon in 2020.

– £2 million win – Andy Carter made history for £2M sticky win on a National Lottery £5 card in 2018.

– £1 million win – Has been claimed multiple times on National Lottery £5 and £10 cards. Also won on £10 Health Lottery card in 2020.

– £500k win – Huge jackpot available on £10 National Lottery scratchcards. Claimed by John McFadden in 2020.

– £300k win – Biggest prize on a £5 National Lottery card. Won eight times since 2015.

– £250k win – Top prize on a £2 National Lottery scratchcard. Hit by Karen Warren in 2020.

– £100k win – Maximum payout on popular £1 National Lottery scratchcards.

– £30k a month for a year (£360k) – Top prizes on £10 scratchcards from People’s Postcode and Postcode Lottery.

So the National Lottery has made multiple scratchcard millionaires and multimillionaires. But even standard £1 cards can potentially win you up to £100k if luck strikes!

What percentage of scratch card prizes go unclaimed?

Billions of pounds in scratchcard prizes go unclaimed each year in the UK. Some estimates for the percentages of total prize funds that are never claimed are:

– National Lottery – Up to 20% of scratchcard prizes not claimed. Worth around £60 million per year.

– Postcode Lottery – 31% of scratchcard prizes not claimed, worth £3.1 million per year.

– Health Lottery – 25% of scratchcard prizes not claimed, valued around £5 million annually.

– People’s Postcode Lottery – 20% of scratchcard prizes not claimed. Worth approximately £2 million per year.

– Other providers – As high as 40% of prizes can go unclaimed.

There are a few common reasons for scratchcard prizes going unclaimed:

– Cards not checked properly and winners accidentally discarded.

– Lost or forgotten cards never handed in to claim winnings.

– Unscratched areas with concealed prizes not revealed.

– Error in scratching manufacturers code which invalidates card.

– Prizes not claimed within the 180 day limit after the game closes.

The good news is that all unclaimed National Lottery prizes go to help fund projects across the UK supported by lottery funding. But it still pays to check your cards carefully for prizes however small!


Scratchcards offer an entertaining form of instant lottery gambling with the chance to win anything from a few pounds up to multimillion jackpot prizes on the popular National Lottery £10 cards. With sensible play, they can provide plenty of suspense and excitement.

While outcomes are always down to luck, knowing the odds, taking precautions like age checks and voluntary spending limits, playing patiently at a leisurely pace, and rotating the types of card can all enhance the playing experience. Just be sure to have fun playing within your means and keep aware that the odds ultimately favour the card provider, not the player.

With billions in unclaimed prizes each year, it’s also well worth checking tickets thoroughly and meeting redemption deadlines – you could be discarding a hidden jackpot winner!