Are Prize savings accounts worth it?

We compare the best savings accounts that offer prizes instead of interest payments

Interest rates on savings accounts are dismally low. The average savings pot is earning just 0.23% interest, according to MoneyFacts. It is hardly a surprise then that more and more of us are being attracted to savings accounts that pay prizes instead of interest.

The most famous of these is National Savings & Investment’s (NS&I) Premium Bonds, but now several banks are offering big prizes too. So, should you be considering ditching interest rates in favour of the chance of a big prize?

What are prize savings accounts?

Prize savings bonds are just like a traditional savings account. You deposit your money with a bank or building society and can withdraw your money according to the terms of the account.

The big difference is these bonds often don’t pay you any interest, instead you are entered into a monthly prize draw.

More and more banks and building societies are offering prize savings bonds as it is cheaper for them to pay out a few big prizes than pay everyone a market-beating interest rate. But, what’s in it for you?

When considering a prize savings bond you need to look at:

  • What the prizes are and how often they are paid
  • What are your chances of winning
  • Whether you will be paid an interest rate as well

Who offers savings accounts with prizes for savers?

Prize Savings Account

Top Prize

Minimum Deposit

NS&I’s Premium Bonds£1,000,000£25
Family Building Society’s Windfall Bonds£50,000£10,000
The Halifax Prize Draw£100,000£5,000
Nationwide’s Start to Save£100£100
Nationwide’s Mutual Reward Bond£10,000£1

NS&I Premium Bonds & the Best Alternatives

NS&I’s Premium Bonds

  • Top Prize: £1m
  • Chances of winning: 24,500 to 1 increasing to 34,500 to 1 from December
  • Equivalent interest rate: 1%
  • Minimum investment: £25

The nation’s most popular savings account has lured 22m of us with the chance of winning one of two £1m prizes every month alongside a host of smaller prizes. There are three big positives with Premium Bonds.

Firstly, the big prizes. Secondly, your money is 100% secure as NS&I is backed by the Treasury. Thirdly, you have easy access to your cash when you need it.

But, this year the chances of winning are getting significantly longer so it may be worth taking a look at the alternatives.

Nationwide’s Mutual Reward Bond

  • Top Prize: £10,000
  • Odds of winning: One in 200 if you deposit the maximum amount
  • Minimum investment: £1

This is an 18-month bond with a prize draw taking place in February 2021. Every £100 that is in your account will qualify as one entry for the draw. The number of winners will depend on how much money is deposited into all the Mutual Reward Bonds. The prize fund is 0.5% of the combined balances.

This account also pays 0.5% interest.

Nationwide’s Savings Prize Draw  "Start to Save"

  • Top Prize: £100
  • Odds of winning: Varies from one in 34 to one in 67 depending on how much is paid into the accounts.
  • Minimum investment: £100

This savings bond is designed for people who are looking to build a savings pot. The account pays 1% interest and you need to pay in £100 a month to qualify for the prize draw.

Prizes of £100 are handed out every quarter. In order to be entered you need to have increased your balance by £50 to £100 in each of the previous three months.

The prize fund is calculated at 1% of the total increase in balances of all qualifying Start to Save accounts over the past three months. So, if 50,000 people all paid £150 into their accounts over three months then the total prize draw would be £75,000 meaning there would be 750 chances to win £100.

The Halifax Savings Prize Draw

  • Top Prize: £100,000
  • Odds of winning: Halifax say it changes every month depending on how many people qualify for the draw but 1,603 prizes each month
  • Minimum investment: £5,000

This is different to other prize bonds as the Halifax Prize Draw isn’t tied to one account. If you hold at least £5,000 in qualifying Halifax or Bank of Scotland accounts, you can enter the draw. This means you can earn interest on your savings as well as the chance of winning a prize. For example, the Halifax Regular Saver is a qualifying account and it also pays 1% interest.

You need to register for the prize draw either online, in branch or via the app. You only need to do this once then you will be entered into all future draws provided you have at least £5,000 in your accounts.

Family Building Society’s Windfall Bonds

  • Top Prize: £50,000
  • Odds of winning: 714 to 1
  • Minimum investment: £10,000

This prize savings bond may have a smaller top prize than Premium Bonds, but you do at least earn interest on your savings as well as getting entered into the prize draw each month. However, the interest rate tracks the Bank of England’s Base Rate so at present you’ll only be earning 0.1%.

If you need your money you need to give 35 days’ notice for withdrawals.

What are the best alternatives to savings prize draws?

If you’d rather receive a guaranteed interest rate than take a chance on winning big then the best possible rate you can get at present is 1.55% on BLME’s five-year fixed bond.

If you want easy access to your cash, then Atom Bank is paying 0.75% on its Instant Saver.

Are savings prize draws worth it?

With interest rates painfully low the attractions of a prize draw increase, you could win big and even average winnings could beat the best interest rates.

Whether it is worth it is entirely up to you.

Some people are happy to forego a small amount of interest for the dream of winning a big cash prize, whereas others will choose the certainty of an albeit low interest rate over the potential of no return at all if you fail to win.

There are other ways you can increase the return on your savings, but these do involve taking more risk with your money.

You could look at investing some of your returns instead as, historically, investing in the stock market has outperformed cash.

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