Dominic Thomas
Feb 2023  •  10 min read

Prize – Back to winning ways? Or simply more tax on your savings?

Despite the cold weather and general sense of grey, there are some silver linings. On 24th January 2023 NS&I increased the interest rates on various accounts.

If you are one of the 870,000 or so people who hold NS&I’s Direct Saver, Income Bonds or Direct Cash ISA, you will now get a little more interest. The interest rate paid on Direct Saver and Income Bonds will increase from 2.30% to 2.60%, whilst the interest rate on Direct ISA will increase from 1.75% tax-free to 2.15% tax-free.

Those of you who like Premium Bonds and remain optimistic of jackpot winnings (less likely than being struck by lightning), the prize fund rate will also increase from 3.00% to 3.15%, effective from the February 2023 prize draw. This follows the rate increasing from 2.20% to 3.00% on New Year’s Day.

NS&I has also increased the interest rate that it pays on its Junior Cash ISA from 2.70% tax-free to 3.40% tax-free, meaning that 80,000 under 18s will benefit from extra interest on their savings, though why anyone would want to hold cash for 18 years is beyond me …

Media spin means that we can confidently say that “today’s changes mean that Income Bonds are now paying their highest rate of interest since 2008” which is of course since the infamous credit crunch.  The prize fund on premium bonds is also at its highest level since the great crunch.

The odds of each £1 Bond winning any prize will remain fixed at 24,000 to 1, with the changes meaning that the number of prizes worth £50 to £100,000 will increase from next month’s draw (February 2023). In short, if you have at least £24,000 in Premium Bonds you would be unlucky not to win at least £25 (the smallest but most common prize, paid out on over 2.6m Premium Bonds).

There are an estimated 119 billion premium bonds in issuance. The £1m jackpot is paid out on two bonds every month. So there is roughly a 1 in 59 billion chance of winning the jackpot in any month. It will not surprise you that I don’t believe that reliance on such odds is a good strategy for your future, but I certainly would acknowledge that it’s a little bit of fun.

Current and new Premium Bonds prize fund rate and odds:

Current prize fund rate Current odds New prize fund rate (from February 2023) Odds from February 2023 (no change)
3.00% tax-free 24,000 to 1 3.15% tax-free 24,000 to 1

Number and value of Premium Bonds prizes:

Value of prizes in January 2023 Number of prizes in January 2023 Value of prizes in February 2023 (estimated) Number of prizes in February 2023 (estimated)
£1,000,000 2 £1,000,000 2
£100,000 56 £100,000 59
£50,000 111 £50,000 117
£25,000 224 £25,000 236
£10,000 559 £10,000 590
£5,000 1,116 £5,000 1,177
£1,000 11,968 £1,000 12,573
£500 35,904 £500 37,719
£100 1,159,432 £100 1,280,509
£50 1,159,432 £50 1,280,509
£25 2,617,902 £25 2,376,161








Variable rate savings products:

Product Previous interest rate Interest rate from today (24 January 2023)
Direct Saver 2.30% gross/AER 2.60% gross/AER
Income Bonds 2.30% gross/2.32% AER 2.60% gross/2.63% AER
Direct ISA 1.75% tax-free/AER 2.15% tax-free/AER
Junior ISA 2.70% tax-free/AER 3.40% tax-free/AER

Can you get better rates elsewhere? Of course you can! Remember that non-taxpayers and basic rate taxpayers have the personal savings allowance in 2022/23 of £1,000 of tax-free interest. At an interest rate of say 3%, you would need £33,333 on deposit before tax is triggered. Higher rate taxpayers only have £500 of the allowance, so at an interest rate of 3%, you would only need £16,660 on deposit before tax is triggered.  A year ago, you would have been hard pressed to be taxed on £100,000 of savings when interest rates were under 1%.