National Savings & Investments (NS&I), which runs Premium Bonds on behalf of the government, hasn’t increased the prize since it was introduced in 1991. If it had risen with inflation since then, lucky winners would pocket £1,857,325 today.
Premium Bonds remain the UK’s most popular investment, and got an added boost when NS&I increased the prize fund rate from one percent to 1.4 percent from this month’s draw.
It has increased the number of prizes by 1.4 million. The odds of each £1 Premium Bond number winning a prize was also cut, from 34,500-to-1 to 24,500-to-1.
In addition to the £1million jackpots, NS&I offers 10 prizes of £100,000, 19 prizes of £50,000 and 40 prizes of £25,000.
It also offers smaller prizes ranging from £10,000 to JUST £25.
Picking up a prize is always a thrill, even the smaller ones, but as inflation rockets this year, winning is worth less and less.
Savers need to work flat out to help protect the real value of their money. Premium Bonds will struggle to do that.
Yet more than 21 million of us continue to hold them.
£1million was big money when first introduced 20 years ago in 1991, but it isn’t worth as much today.
In terms of spending power, its value has almost halved.
It is now eroding at an even faster rate, as inflation hits levels we haven’t seen in 40 years, with no sign of NS&I increasing its jackpot.
Nobody who gets a surprise call from Agent Million will be complaining. I certainly wouldn’t, if I won it.
Yet it’s shocking to see how quickly that £1million is shrinking, as inflation does its deadly work.
In May, consumer price inflation hit 9.1 percent. At that rate, the value of £1million will fall by £91,000 in just one year.
The Bank of England now reckons inflation will hit 11 percent by October. That would shrink the jackpot by £110,000 over 12 months.
Of course, most people have much bigger inflationary worries right now, as food and fuel bills go through the roof.
Yet this makes getting a decent return on your savings more important, and you have to ask whether Premium Bonds does that for you.
Perhaps the biggest downside is that there is no guarantee that you will win anything at all. It’s all down to luck.
Anybody who needs to generate a steady, guaranteed income from their savings, for example pensioners, can’t rely on them.
Yes, the prize rate has been increased to 1.4 percent, but that is still miles behind today’s inflation rate.
Also, that rate is the amount you are supposed to win each year with average luck, but in practice most people get much less.
The figure is skewed by the big winners, who naturally scoop a larger share of the overall pot. In practice, the majority get much less than 1.4 percent a year.
Premium Bond holders are missing out on the great savings rate recovery, as challenger banks compete to offer better rates.
Chase by JP Morgan pays 1.5 percent with easy access. Atom Bank and Tandem Bank both pay 2.60 percent fixed for one year. United Trust Bank pays a fixed 2.90 percent over two years.
You can cash in your Premium Bonds at any time, but every saver should check whether they can do better elsewhere.
As inflation carries out its evil work, you have to fight back as best you can.
Having a flutter with Premium Bonds is fun. But like so many things, inflation is spoiling the party.