Premium Bonds celebrates 60th anniversary

Sixty years is a long time in anyone’s book: in that time there have been 12 British Prime Ministers, five UK Eurovision winners, and there have been over 8,000 episodes of Coronation Street broadcasted to homes up and down the country.

And sixty years is how long Premium Bonds have been on sale, with the popular product celebrating its diamond anniversary on 1 November 2016.

  • More than 21 million customers hold over £63 billion worth of Premium Bonds.
  • Over 1 million savers have chosen to have their Premium Bond prizes paid directly into their bank account.
  • November’s jackpot winners from Norwich and Bristol are ERNIE’s 349th and 350th millionaires respectively.

Alderman Sir Cuthbert Ackroyd, the then Lord Mayor of London, bought the very first Premium Bond on 1 November 1956. The investment immediately caught the imagination of the British public, so much so that by the end of their first day on sale, £5 million worth of Premium Bonds had been sold. And by the time of the first prize draw on 1 June 1957, there were 23,000 prizes drawn with a top prize of £1,000.

While there have been changes in politics, culture, fashion and sport over six decades, Premium Bonds have also changed with the times to suit people’s lives better.

Whereas people used to buy their Bonds from the Post Office, today, customers buy their Bonds online, over the phone, or by post. And the amount they can invest has changed significantly too; in 1956, the maximum holding limit stood at £500 but in 2016, that figure has had a couple of extra noughts added to it – so now stands at £50,000.

The way that customers check and receive their prizes has changed too. No longer having to wait for the prize numbers to appear in the newspaper, on Ceefax or in the local Gazettes, holders can now go online to the Premium Bonds prize checker on or can download the new and improved Premium Bonds app, which informs customers if they have won a prize in the latest draw, or in the last six months.

Premium Bond holders can also opt to have Premium Bond prizes paid directly into their bank account with notification of prize wins coming to them by email.

In all, Premium Bonds have come a long way since that momentous November day: the top prize has changed from £1,000 to the current £1 million jackpot, and while the first version of ERNIE (Electronic Random Number Indicating Equipment), ERNIE 1, if it were still in use today, would now take over 100 days to complete a draw, today’s model, ERNIE 4, takes around five hours.

Jill Waters, Retail Director, NS&I, said:

“Over the last 60 years, Premium Bonds have become a part of the fabric of British life with almost a third of Britons now holding the product. When they were first introduced in 1956 they changed how the nation saved and, over time, have increasingly become a part of many savers’ portfolio.

“And like anything that has remained popular for so long, Premium Bonds have moved with the times, offering customers what they want and now being easier to manage through our online and phone service, as well as over a million of our customers now choosing to have their tax-free prizes paid directly into their designated account.”

Since the first Premium Bond went on sale on 1 November 1956, NS&I has made 350 Premium Bonds millionaires, with the latest being a man from Norwich and a man from Bristol.

If you’ve won a Premium Bonds prize and have a story to tell, no matter big or small, then we’d love to hear from you. Similarly, if you have a particularly good story to tell about how you got your first bonds, then join the conversation on our Facebook pageon Twitter, or submit your story at

Notes to Editors

  1. November’s jackpot winners have been announced today (1 November 2016). If you would like further information on this, please visit or or contact the NS&I media team.
  2. NS&I has a wealth of facts and figures (including regional) about Premium Bonds. If you require any further details, please contact the NS&I media team or tweet your question to @nsandi
  3. You can read more about Premium Bond prize winners at
  4. All Premium Bonds prizes are free of UK Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax
  5. NS&I is one of the largest savings organisations in the UK, offering a range of savings and investments to more than 25 million customers. All products offer 100% capital security, because NS&I is backed by HM Treasury.
  6. The annual Premium Bonds prize fund rate is currently 1.25% and the odds of each individual Bond number winning any prize are 30,000 to 1.
  7. Pictures of ERNIE (including the new ERNIE 4 machine), NS&I’s Agent Millions and people buying Premium Bonds are available in high-resolution jpeg format from the NS&I media team.
  8. Customers can buy Premium Bonds online at and over the phone by calling 08085 007 007. This is a new freephone number but calls from mobiles and some landline providers may be chargeable. Telephone calls may be recorded.