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US Treasury Investments Basics 


What are
U.S.Treasury securities? 

U.S. Treasury securities are debt instruments. The U.S. Treasury issues securities to raise the money needed to operate the Federal Government and to pay off maturing obligations - its debt, in other words.  

Why should I buy a Treasury security?  

Treasury securities are a safe and secure investment option because the full faith and credit of the United States government guarantees that interest and principal payments will be paid on time. Also, most Treasury securities are liquid, which means they can easily be sold for cash.  

What types of securities do you sell to individual investors?  

We sell Treasury bills, notes, bonds, TIPS, and U.S. savings bonds to individual investors.  

What are Treasury bills?  

Treasury bills (or T-bills) are short-term securities that mature in one year or less from their issue date. You buy T-bills for a price less than their par (face) value, and when they mature we pay you their par value. Your interest is the difference between the purchase price of the security and what we pay you at maturity (or what you get if you sell the bill before it matures). For example, if you bought a $10,000 26-week Treasury bill for $9,750 and held it until maturity, your interest would be $250.  

What are Treasury notes, bonds, and TIPS?  

Treasury notes and bonds are securities that pay a fixed rate of interest every six months until your security matures, which is when we pay you their par value. The only difference between them is their length until maturity. Treasury notes mature in more than a year, but not more than 10 years from their issue date. Bonds, on the other hand, mature in more than 10 years from their issue date.  

Treasury also sells Treasury inflation-protected securities (TIPS). They pay interest twice a year and the principal value of TIPS is adjusted to reflect inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index -- the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U). With TIPS, we calculate your semiannual interest payments and maturity payment based on the inflation-adjusted principal value of your security.  

What are U.S. savings bonds?  

Savings bonds are Treasury securities that are payable only to the person to whom they are registered. Savings bonds can earn interest for up to 30 years, but you can cash them after 6 months if purchased before February 1, 2003 or 12 months if purchased on or after February 1, 2003.  

What types of savings bonds are available?  

You can buy two types of savings bonds for cash: the Series EE bond or the Series I bond. For more information on these types of securities and how to purchase them, visit our Savings Bonds website.  

How do Treasury bills, notes, bonds, and TIPS differ from savings bonds?  

Unlike savings bonds, Treasury bills, notes, bonds and TIPS are transferable, so you can buy or sell them in the securities market. Also, bills, notes, bonds, and TIPS are electronic - they're not paper securities like savings bonds. You can buy Treasury bills, notes, bonds and TIPS for a minimum of $1,000, and you can buy savings bonds for as little as $25.  

How can I buy a Treasury bill, note, bond, or TIPS?  

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