Old War Bonds Are Worth Big Bucks

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Series I Bonds

Series I bonds are sold at face value and mature after 30 years. Redemption rules are the same with Series I bonds as Series EE bonds. The composite rate for Series I bonds issued from Nov. 1, 2019, through April 30, 2020, is 2.22%. This rate applies for the first six months that you own the bond.

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Calculating the Value of Your Savings Bonds

When you're ready to calculate the value of your savings bond, there's some information you'll need to know, including your bond's:

  • Type
  • Denomination
  • Serial number
  • Issue date

Once you have this information, you can use a savings bond calculator to find out how much your bond is worth right now. The primary site to do this is TreasuryDirect.gov, which is run by the U.S. government.

Along with the calculator, you can find detailed instructions on determining your bond’s future value, how to build and save an inventory of bonds (if you have more than one), and how to find the interest to report to the IRS.

Tip When it comes to reporting interest on your bonds to the IRS, you can do it either as you go or when the bonds are fully matured.

How to cash in your savings bonds

Now comes the exciting part: actually cashing in your savings bonds. Different bonds are redeemed in different ways, but most can be redeemed at a bank or through TreasuryDirect.

Electronic savings bonds, such as those offered through the TreasuryDirect website, can be cashed through your online account. This is a pretty simple process hosted by a service called ManageDirect.

Cashing paper bonds, on the other hand, requires a bit more legwork. You’ll need to bring the physical bonds to a bank or other financial institution. It’s best to call ahead to make sure that the institution you have in mind will actually cash your savings bonds.

From there, it comes down to establishing identity. If you’re a customer of the bank, you’ll simply need to submit some form of valid identification. If not, the process may be a bit more stringent. But as long as you’re the rightful owner of the bonds, you’ll have no trouble cashing them in once you’ve proven ownership.

It’s important to keep in mind that the value of your bond will be highest if you wait until maturity to cash it. This is for two reasons: First, your bond will have more time to earn compound interest, and second, some bonds (such as Series EE bonds) are guaranteed to at least double at maturity. By waiting longer to cash in your bonds, you’ll earn more interest and take advantage of any built-in price adjustments.

How to Gift a Savings Bond

While they won’t come with a huge payoff, savings bonds are still a financially prudent gift. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to buy and give an electronic savings bond.

  1. Go to www.treasurydirect.gov, and log into your TreasuryDirect account or open an account in your name.
  2. Click on BuyDirect. On the purchase page, either select an existing registration from the drop-down list or create a new registration for the recipient by clicking “Add New Registration.”
  3. Have the recipient’s name and Social Security number on hand to register. Be sure to click the box, “This is a Gift.”
  4. Buy the type of savings bond you wish (Series EE or Series I), in a specific amount ($25-$10,000).
  5. Deliver the savings bond gift to the recipient’s TreasuryDirect account.
  6. Print out a gift certificate to give to the recipient.

Gift savings bonds usually take at least one business day to be issued in a TreasuryDirect account. Once issued, you can go back into your account and deliver it to the recipient. To receive the gift, the recipient must have his or her own TreasuryDirect account. 

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