How To Buy Us Treasury Bonds Online
Treasury bonds, also known as T-bonds or Treasurys, are viewed as safer than stocks, cryptocurrency and exchange-traded funds, or ETFs, because they are backed by the U.S. government. Treasury bonds could be a smart addition to your investing portfolio now because of the current market uncertainty, as they'll provide some return on your investment as opposed to keeping funds in cash. Here are some tips on buying Treasury bonds and the different options available:
how to buy us treasury bonds online
Treasury bonds, or T-bonds, are government-backed debt securities issued by the U.S. government. T-bonds earn interest over 20 or 30 years. The only way an investor could lose their investment would be if the U.S. government were to default.
When investing in Treasury bonds, you can choose from either a 20- or 30-year maturity, with a minimum purchase of $100. Interest is paid to investors every six months until maturity, and there are no state and local taxes on the interest. However, you will pay federal taxes on the interest earned.
In addition to Treasury Bonds, you can purchase other Treasury investments such as Treasury notes; Treasury bills; Treasury inflation-protected securities, or TIPS; and floating-rate notes, or FRNs. Treasury bonds and the other Treasury securities are considered marketable securities, meaning that they can be transferred to someone else and sold before they mature.
Non-marketable securities are registered to one person's Social Security number. They can't be sold or transferred to someone else. Some examples of non-marketable securities are EE and I savings bonds.
Treasury note. This type of investment can be purchased for a term of two, three, five, seven or 10 years, while Treasury bonds have a 20- or 30-year maturity term. Treasury notes are like Treasury bonds in that they pay interest every six months, and the investor is only required to pay federal taxes.
Treasury bills. When looking to invest in Treasury bills, you can purchase a minimum four-week and up to 52-week investment. A key difference between T-bills and Treasury bonds is that bills can be sold at a discount or at par (face value). However, when a bill matures, you are paid its face value.
Once the investment matures, you receive an amount that is either higher than or equal to your initial investment, whichever is greater and never less than the original principal. Interest is paid every six months, though the payment amount can vary, unlike the fixed-interest payments seen with Treasury bonds.
Floating-rate notes. FRNs are unique in comparison to Treasury bonds as they mature in two years, pay interest four times a year, and have an interest rate that may change, or "float," over time. The interest rate for a FRN is determined by adding together an index rate and a spread.
The best way to buy Treasury bonds is through TreasuryDirect, a broker or a bank. Before you purchase T-bonds through TreasuryDirect, you will need to set up an account and provide your Social Security number. As an investor, you can participate in debt auctions that will allow you to purchase debt securities including Treasury bonds.
If you decide to use a broker or bank, you will have to purchase Treasury bonds in the secondary market. In the secondary market, you can purchase older Treasury bonds, in comparison to new issues coming directly from the U.S. government on TreasuryDirect.
Note: When purchasing Treasury bonds from a bank or broker, you are bidding within an auction. Before you place a bid, you must specify the discount rate, yield or discount margin you are willing to accept. Also, you will pay a commission to use this service from a bank or broker.
If you don't want to directly buy Treasury bonds, you can find them within mutual funds. Most mutual funds include stocks, bonds and other investments along with Treasury bonds. You can also purchase Treasury bonds via ETFs, which trade like stocks.
As a beginner investor looking to invest long term, buying Treasury bonds can be a great way to hedge against risk in the stock market. Also, Treasury bonds may provide you a better return on your investment compared with savings accounts and other safe places to stash your cash.
In order to fund its operations and pay its bills, the federal government borrows money by selling bonds to investors. Issued through the Department of the Treasury, these bonds are known as Treasury securities or Treasuries for short. Like all bonds, they are debt securities that represent an obligation: They repay the investor's principal after a certain amount of time, along with interest along the way.
The auctions, and TreasuryDirect, only offer new issues. So if you want to buy an older T-bill, note, or bond, you have to get one that's already trading on the secondary market (the major stock exchanges). You will need to buy through a brokerage or financial services company, or an online trading platform. Commission charges may apply.
The maturity date of the Treasuries that you invest in will determine how liquid (easily sellable) your investment will be. Treasury bills, which have maturities of a year or less, are going to be the most liquid option while 30-year bonds will give you the least liquidity.
That said, within the investment universe, Treasuries are pretty liquid animals: There's always a market for US government bonds. So you can always unload them pretty fast, though as mentioned earlier, the exact price they'll fetch depends on their coupon rate, compared to prevailing interest rates.
You only pay taxes on the interest your T-bonds earn. When your bond matures, you don't owe anything, since it's just repayment of your own money. But if you sell a bond before it matures, it counts as a capital gain or loss, depending on whether you make a profit or not.
Treasury bonds, T-bills, and T-notes are the closest thing to a risk-free instrument out there. Their reliability makes them ideal for older investors dependent on investment income, or highly conservative ones who never want to risk their principal.
Learning how to buy bonds is an essential part of your education as an investor. A well-diversified portfolio should always strike a balance between stocks and bonds, helping you ride out volatility while still capturing growth along the way.
Buying individual bonds offers unique challenges. In addition to a wide range of moving parts inherent in each bond, the primary market can be difficult to access for all but the wealthiest investors. Meanwhile, the secondary market has less transparent pricing than primary issues.
The easiest way to buy bonds is to invest in bond mutual funds or bond exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Funds own large, diversified fixed-income portfolios comprising hundreds or even thousands of bonds.
Buying individual bonds via your brokerage account is more complicated. Typically online brokers offer access to bond secondary markets, which means that availability and prices wholly depend on existing holders looking to sell.
Bond ETFs can be purchased through any standard investment account listed above, like an investment company, an online broker or a financial advisor. Be sure to do your research on the best bond ETF options before you decide which way to go.
Generally, a bond that matures in one to three years is referred to as a short-term bond. Medium- or intermediate-term bonds are generally those that mature in four to 10 years, and long-term bonds are those with maturities greater than 10 years. Not all bonds reach maturity. Callable bonds, which allow the issuer to retire a bond before it matures, are common.
Savings bonds are also issued by the federal government and backed by the "full faith and credit" guarantee. Unlike many other types of bonds, only the person(s) in whose name a savings bond is registered can receive payment for it.
The two most common types of savings bonds are Series I and Series EE bonds. Both are accrual securities, meaning the interest you earn accrues monthly at a variable rate and is compounded semiannually. Interest income is paid out at redemption.
Most corporate bonds trade in the over-the-counter (OTC) market. TRACE, the Trade Reporting and Compliance Engine, provides real-time price information for corporate bonds. TRACE brings transparency to the fixed income market and helps create a level playing field for all market participants by providing comprehensive, real-time access to bond price information.
Agency securities are bonds issued by U.S. federal government agencies (other than the U.S. Treasury) or by GSEs. Most agency bonds pay a semiannual fixed coupon and are sold in a variety of increments, generally requiring a minimum initial investment of $10,000.
With the exception of bonds issued by Ginnie Mae, agency securities are not fully guaranteed by the U.S. government. The issuing agency will affect the strength of any guarantee provided on the agency bond. Evaluating an agency's credit rating before you invest should be standard procedure. Many credit rating agencies make this information available on their website.
Municipal bonds, or muni bonds, are issued by states, cities, counties, towns villages, interstate authorities, intrastate authorities and U.S. territories, possessions and commonwealths to support their obligations and those of their agencies. They are generally backed by taxes or revenues received by the issuer.
No two municipal bonds are created equal, which can make the muni bond illiquid. The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) has educational information on muni bond investing, and its EMMA website has tools, data and disclosure documents to help compare and evaluate municipal securities.
You can purchase bonds issued by foreign governments and companies as another way to diversify your portfolio. Since information is often less reliable and more difficult to obtain for these bonds, you risk making decisions on incomplete or inaccurate information.
Like U.S. Treasurys, many international and emerging market bonds pay interest semiannually, although European bonds traditionally pay interest annually. Unlike U.S. Treasurys, however, there can be increased risks for U.S. investors who buy international and emerging market bonds, and buying and selling these bonds generally involves higher costs and requires the help of your firm or investment professional. 041b061a72