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Savings Bonds: FAQs

The Basics

The Series EE bond and the Series I bond. Both are available in electronic form in TreasuryDirect. Also, using your federal tax refund, you can buy Series I bonds in paper form.

You can buy U.S. savings bonds only from the U.S. government. You can’t buy them from another person or a business. (If you pay to obtain a savings bond on eBay TM , for instance, you’re paying only for a piece of paper. Ownership of the bond doesn’t transfer to you and we won’t pay you.)

EE bonds pay a fixed rate of interest, but, regardless of the rate, they are guaranteed to double in value if you hold them 20 years. Series I bonds pay a variable rate of interest that is tied to inflation. As inflation occurs, the bonds’ values go up. Series I bonds aren’t guaranteed to grow to a particular value.

You don't have to pay state or local income tax on them. You can choose not to pay federal income tax on them until you cash them or they mature, whichever is first. Under certain conditions, you can avoid federal income tax on interest by using the interest to pay for higher education.

Buying and Cashing

Two ways. You can buy an electronic bond in TreasuryDirect. You can buy a paper bond—Series I only—through the mail, using your federal tax refund. For either method, please see instructions on our page “Savings Bonds: Buy.”

Many local banks cash them. You also can cash by mail. For either method, please see instructions on our page “Savings Bonds: Cash.”

No. Even if far beyond its maturity date, a savings bond can be cashed.

What do I do if . . .

What you can do depends on various factors. Please see our page “Savings Bonds: Death of Owner.”

Our online tool Treasury Hunt is set up to help owners obtain payment for matured, uncashed bonds.

Interest Rates for I bonds

The composite rate (or, overall rate) on a Series I savings bond is determined by inflation and the bond’s fixed rate. For the first time in three years, we’re selling I bonds that have a fixed rate greater than zero.

No. The fixed rate on a particular I bond—one of two components of the bond’s overall rate--never changes. So, whether fixed rates on future I bonds are higher or lower than the fixed rate on your bond makes no difference to the earnings on your bond.

More about I bond interest rates

The fixed rate is one of two rates that determine an I bond’s overall rate, and we determine a new overall rate every six months. Except in some cases of deflation, a fixed rate above 0.00 percent means the bond will earn more than it would have if its rate were 0.00 percent.

No. The fixed rate on a particular I bond stays the same for the life of that bond. (The bond’s inflation rate and overall rate change; the fixed rate stays the same.)

The Secretary of the Treasury, or the Secretary’s designee, determines the fixed rate. The rate is based on market rates that have been adjusted to account for the value of components unique to savings bonds. These include the early redemption put option, tax deferral feature, deferred purchase feature, and Treasury’s administrative costs.

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