Are you feeling lucky? Because January has brought with it some new prize draws linked to savings accounts.
There’s no spending involved, or effort really – all you have to do is put some money into the bank and you could win as much as £1million in cash.
For once, it’s not too good to be true. Freakonomics Radio actually did a really interesting podcast on how it all works. It’s in a US context, but was inspired by NS&I’s Premium Bonds.
Given that interest rates are still so low – certainly no savings products are beating inflation right now – an account with a bonus prize draw might just sweeten the deal for savers.
One thing to note: the chances of winning are pretty small so make sure you shop around for the best interest rates as well.
Yorkshire Building Society
One of the best savings accounts with a prize draw comes from Yorkshire Building Society – and it just launched this week.
Its Make Me A Saver account is a brand new regular savings product offering 1% interest, and judging by the terms and conditions, it’s only available for a year.
You can open an account with just £1, save up to £150 a month, and there’s no need to open a linked current account.
You can also make unlimited withdrawals, penalty-free. You can’t make any withdrawals for the first 14 days of opening your account for security reasons, though, and you have to maintain a minimum of £1 in your account.
In terms of the prize draw, there are 10 prizes of £1,500 each up for grabs every month. The first draw will take place on 3 March 2022, and the final draw will be 3 January 2023
To be eligible to enter, your savings account has to have increased in value by at least £50 and by no more than £150.
So if you’ve withdrawn some money, you would have to return it in the same month, plus at least £50, to be in with a chance of winning in that month’s draw.
You can open an account in a branch or online, but the terms and conditions are slightly different depending on which one you go for so make sure you double check.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Chip’s new instant access savings account with Allica Bank.
You get 0.7% interest, which is pretty decent, although from experience it’s not quite as instant access as you might think.
There’s a slight delay of a day or two when you deposit and withdraw the money, which is longer if it’s just before or over the weekend – as I experienced recently.
It does add interest to your account daily though, so you can quickly see your interest rate build up through compounding.
They currently have a prize draw to win a single prize of £20,000, running until 19 February 2022.
You don’t even have to open an account – just enter your email into the form – although of course you get more entries if you are an account holder.
If you do want to open an account, they have a Refer a Friend promotion on at the moment. Use my code CHIP-UFU409 and you’ll get £20 for free (once you deposit at least £1) – as do I.
NS&I Premium Bonds
When it comes to savings products with prizes, NS&I’s Premium Bonds are the original and by far the nation’s favourite.
The idea is that for every £1 you hold of the bonds, you get an entry into a monthly prize draw in lieu of interest payments. That interest is instead pooled together into a prize fund, which is then used to pay the winners.
There are over three million monthly prizes ranging from £25 to £1 million, and the prizes are awarded tax free. It’s also tax free to hold your money in Premium Bonds which potentially makes it a quite tax-efficient way to save for those in higher tax brackets with lots of disposable income.
NS&I have the odds of winning as starting from 1 in 34,500, although of course this changes every month depending on how many Premium Bonds are currently held.
For comparison, the chances of winning anything in Lotto is 1 in 9.3, so technically the odds are better if you play the lottery, but obviously you’ll be spending money rather than saving it.
The minimum investment in Premium Bonds is £25 and you can hold up to £50,000 worth of bonds.
If you’re happy with not receiving any interest payment – because, with average luck, the chances of winning are so low that you shouldn’t expect to win at all – Premium Bonds is an extremely safe way to save your money.
However, cashing out the bonds can take a few days so it’s not ideal if you think you might need the money instantly at some point in the future.
The Family Building Society Windfall Bond
The Family Building Society offers a very similar product through the Windfall Bond, although it’s much smaller in size: There are just 21 prizes each month, ranging from £1,000 to £50,000.
The odds of winning are much better though – The Family Building Society says there’s a 1 in 714 chance of winning a prize in any given draw and these odds are held because they enter blank entries into the draw when there aren’t enough real entries.
The odds are so good because there are only 15,000 entries in the prize draw – and it’s accepting new customers again.
However, each bond is exactly £10,000, which prices a lot of people out. And if you want to buy several bonds, you’ll have to open multiple accounts, which is a bit of a hassle.
Also, you can’t withdraw the money – only close the account by giving a 35-day notice, so it’s not ideal for an emergency fund, unless for example you have a second household income that can tide you over in the short term.
Its other benefit is that it pays interest payments at the Bank of England’s Bank Rate on top, although this is currently a paltry 0.25%.
Halifax Savers Prize Draw
One of the longest running prize draws for savers offered by a high street bank comes from Halifax, and it’s open to those who save with Halifax and the Bank of Scotland (they’re in the same banking group).
There are 1,603 prizes each month with values of between £100 and £100,000. The odds are not released, and presumably varies from month to month depending on how many people qualify for the draw (the prize fund is set at £550,000).
This one is for those who already have a fair bit of money tucked away as you need at least £5,000 to qualify for the prize draw.
On the plus side, the £5,000 can be split across more than one savings product, including cash ISAs, so you can mix it up between instant access accounts and notice accounts.
The interest rates across all the products are fairly low at the moment, though.
Nationwide Member Prize Draw
Nationwide launched a year-long promotion last year that might just be the most attractive offering around for casual savers.
There are 12 monthly draws, with 8,008 prizes ranging from £100 to £100,000 up for grabs in each one. The total prize fund for each draw is £1 million – so £12 million over the year.
To qualify, you just need to be a member by having a mortgage, personal savings or current account with Nationwide – it looks like you don’t even need to have any money in your account.
Nationwide has the odds at around 1 in 1,750, but this will likely decrease if they get a huge influx of new members.
The first draw took place in September 2021, and the final one will be in August 2022.
Its accounts aren’t inflation beating, but they are more competitive than many other options out there.
Oops, you’ve missed these
Here are some prize draws that have already finished. It’s always worth keeping an eye out to see whether they’ll come back, though.
Nationwide Building Society
Nationwide actually had another prize-giving savings product: Its Start to Save account.
You had to deposit between £50 and £100 into the account each month to be entered into a qualifying draw. The odds were between 1 in 34 and 1 in 67 (it varies depending on the size of the prize fund), but the prize was only £100.
For those with a lot of savings, the caps on this account meant it’s probably not that useful. But the interest rate was 1% for 24 months, which was among the best for instant access accounts.
Their final draw for this account is taking place on 24 January 2022, and you can no longer open an account.
I had an account from the beginning but sadly never won anything.
Natwest/RBS Digital Regular Saver draw
These accounts have been on the Money Talk Best Buy list for some time as they pay an interest rate of 3%, although you can only deposit £50 a month up to a £1,000 limit.
But they’re perfect for an emergency fund as both are instant access and, once you’ve reached the £1,000 cap, you don’t have to deposit any more money but can still get the same great (inflation-beating) rate of interest.
You do need a current account with them to open a Digital Regular Saver though.
In terms of the prize draw, you had to open a Digital Regular Saver by 5.30pm on 31 August 2021 and pay in between £1 and £50 in September, October and November.
There were just 10 prizes of £1,000 to be won, with no odds given. And unfortunately existing customers were not eligible to win anything.