ERNIE FAQs

Who can buy Premium Bonds?
What does ERNIE stand for?
When was the first draw?
Does ERNIE favour the south of England?
How can customers check to see if they have won any prizes?
How is the prize fund set?
Why are the names of winners never seen?
Is ERNIE really random?


Who can buy Premium Bonds?

Anyone aged 16 years or over can buy Premium Bonds for themselves. Premium Bonds can be bought for children under 16 by their parents, grandparents, great grandparents or guardians.

Premium Bonds can only be held in the name of one person and are not transferable.


What does ERNIE stand for?

ERNIE stands for Electronic Random Number Indicator Equipment – the machine which generates the winning Bond numbers each month.


When was the first draw?

Premium Bonds were launched in November 1956 and the first draw was held in June 1957.

In 2006 we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the launch of Premium Bonds and in 2007 the very first prize draw. To celebrate the anniversary of both the launch and the first prize draw, in December 2006 and June 2007 there was a special prize draw, each giving customers five chances to win £1 million.


Does ERNIE favour the south of England?

No. ERNIE generates the winning Premium Bond numbers entirely at random. It is true that more prizes are won in the south of England but that is simply because more Premium Bonds are held by people who live there


How can a customers check to see of they have won any prizes?

Bond holders are notified automatically when they win a prize. But inevitably people move – sometimes without giving us a forwarding address. If you believe you may have won a prize there are various ways you can check.

There is a facility on this website to check for unclaimed prizes: Have you won?

Or write with full details including the Premium Bond numbers to:

Premium Bonds
National Savings and Investments
Glasgow
G58 1SB

We will update our records, check and notify customers if any prizes remain unclaimed. Or check in the supplement to the London Gazette, available at major Post Offices.


How is the prize fund set?

The value of the prize fund is set taking account of the total value of Premium Bonds eligible for that month’s draw and 1/12th of the prize fund rate. There are two £1 million jackpots distributed each month – guaranteed – and the numbers of each of the other prizes vary depending on the total prize fund and the odds against winning.

The interest rate used to calculate the prize fund and the odds against winning may change from time to time.


Why are the names of winners never seen?

The personal identity of all winners is kept confidential. It is down to the winners themselves to reveal their good fortune, if they wish. However, details of the winning Bond numbers are published.


Is ERNIE really random?

Yes. A lot of care is taken to ensure that ERNIE continues to operate in a completely random way. ERNIE is not a computer so cannot be programmed to produce any particular number or prefix, or to favour any part of the country.

We check before and after every draw to make sure ERNIE is working satisfactorily. Each month ERNIE’s entire output is tested by the Government Actuary’s Department which is wholly independent of National Savings and Investments.