Premium vs Discount Bonds: Which Should You Buy?

Bonds can help to balance out risk in a portfolio while also generating income in the form of interest from regular coupon payments. When a bond is issued it’s assigned a fixed par value and a set maturity date. A bond’s value can change, however, once it begins trading on the open market. Premium bonds trade above par value while discount bonds trade below it. Both can offer opportunities for investors but it’s important to understand how premium and discount bonds work.

  • A common error made by many bond investors is to avoid purchasing premium bonds – bonds that trade above their face value (or par, typically 100).
  • In other words, if a bond has a 3% coupon and prevailing rates rise to 4%, the bond’s price will fall so that its yield rises to move more closely in line with the prevailing rates.
  • All of these numbers are put into a computer called Ernie (Electronic Random Number Indicator Equipment) which randomly draws out winners.
  • If you’re buying Premium Bonds for your own child, you can also apply over the phone.

This is usually because the company is losing money or is in a bad financial position. Bonds trade on a secondary market, so the price of the bond floats either below or above the original par value based on supply and demand. U.K. Premium Bonds form part of a person’s estate when they die. The executor or administrator of the estate can choose to keep the bonds until they mature or cash them in.


Plus, with Premium Bonds your funds need only be locked away for a month to be in with a chance of winning a prize. If you have £1,000 invested, the odds of winning are one in 4,954,991. And if you have the maximum £50,000 in bonds, your chances increase to one in 96,839. Currently, you have a one in 21,000 chance of winning the lowest prize of £25 each month for each £1 bond number. The nominated person will be sent the bond record, any prizes won and payment for cashed in bonds until the child turns 16.

  • Some investors avoid premium bonds because they feel they are overpaying for the bond and would rather not pay over the face value.
  • The combination of premium bonds with other diversified investments can lead to a more stable and potentially higher-risk-adjusted return profile for the overall portfolio.
  • Therefore, premium bonds with higher coupons should be less price sensitive to changes in interest rates than discount bonds with lower coupons.
  • By diversifying across a range of premium bonds with different characteristics, investors can potentially reduce their exposure to any single bond’s specific risk factors.

Municipal bonds are often exempt from federal income taxes and sometimes from state and local taxes, while corporate bonds are taxable at the federal and state levels. If you sell a bond at a higher price than you paid, you could be subject to capital gains tax on the profit. Lastly, for premium bonds, you may be able to amortize the premium, which means gradually writing off the extra cost over the bond’s life. The biggest difference between premium and discount bonds centers on their trading price, relative to their par value.

What are the chances of winning?

Enter the Omaze Million Pound House Draw by Sunday 28th January and you could win a £3 million villa in Mallorca, Spain. If you’re drawn as the lucky Grand Prize Winner, there’s no Transfer Tax, mortgage or conveyancing fees to pay. When you buy a Premium Bond, you’ll get a unique bond number for every £1 you invest. After you’ve had them for a full month, they’ll be included in the draw. That means this isn’t the account for you if you’re looking to earn a guaranteed, or even regular, income.


Premium Bonds were introduced in the late 1950s to encourage Britons to save following the end of the second world war. Savers would be entered into a monthly prize draw where they had the chance to win £1,000. The rates on a whole host of other NS&I accounts are also increasing. Check out how they compare to the best savings accounts on the market right now. Working with an adviser may come with potential downsides such as payment of fees (which will reduce returns). There are no guarantees that working with an adviser will yield positive returns.

How to Invest in Premium and Discount Bonds

A premium bond tends to be less sensitive to changes in interest rates than a discount bond because its duration is lower and its coupon rate tends to be higher. This means that if all else is equal, it’s better to buy a premium bond when interest rates are expected to rise than a discount bond. Paying a premium for a bond may not seem like a good financial decision on its face, but there are times when premium bonds can protect against changes in the interest rate. Learn how they work and what they mean for individual investors. For taxable bonds (not municipals), the IRS allows a one-time election to amortize (write down over time) the premium paid over the remaining life of the bond.

Inside saving & banking

At maturity, the principal loan amount is repaid to the investor. Rather than paying interest, you’re entered into a monthly prize draw where you can win tax-free prizes worth up to £1 million each. On the other hand, you may not earn 4.65%, or even anything at all, with your premium bonds, while you would have been certain how to create a win win situation in business conflict to earn interest with a straightforward savings account. However, last month, after he originally spoke to the Guardian, Mark did enjoy a win on the premium bonds – from other bonds that he holds. “Neither of my two original bonds contributed to this, obviously.” He used his winnings to pay for tickets to a music festival.

This means they could be liable for inheritance tax, which is payable at up to 40% above a certain threshold. This is due to the ending of “passporting” rules that made it easy and cheap for financial institutions to provide services across the EU. NS&I offers a tracing service for lost Premium Bonds – you simply fill in the request to trace dormant savings form. Putting money in Premium Bonds could be worthwhile if you’re looking for a temporary home for your cash, and might need fairly quick access to it. The allowance means most people don’t pay any tax on their savings interest, so Premium Bonds wouldn’t have any real tax advantage. However, the maximum you can put into Premium Bonds is £50,000, so if you opted to put that in a high street bank account instead, you would effectively get the same protection.

If you are fortunate enough to win really big money, check out how to invest £50,000. NS&I publishes the big prize Premium Bond winners on the first working day of the month. You can go to the online prize checker on the second working day of the month. All of these numbers are put into a computer called Ernie (Electronic Random Number Indicator Equipment) which randomly draws out winners.

Premium Bonds don’t pay interest, unlike easy-access savings accounts – the best of which is now paying 3.65 per cent. Bonds are issued by a business or a federal, state, or local government to raise capital. “Par value” is the face value of each bond—it is what the bond costs and the amount that the business or institution promises to pay back at the end of the bond term. Let’s examine how a premium bond can be more beneficial than a discount bond.