savings bonds and US currency

How Do I Purchase A Savings Bond?

savings bonds and US currency

What you need to know about purchasing U.S. Savings Bonds for yourself and as gifts for others.

More information about buying Savings Bonds

U.S. Savings Bonds were introduced in 1935 by the U.S. Treasury Department – originally offered in paper format only – as an easy and affordable way for millions of Americans to save, give them as gifts, as well as invest in their country, especially during times of war.

Series EE and I Savings Bonds are currently available for purchase online, via TreasuryDirect. You must either have an established Treasury Direct account or set up one, in order to purchase Savings Bonds for yourself or for others.

As of January 2012, you can no longer purchase paper savings bonds at banks or financial institutions.

The only way to obtain paper savings bonds is by using your Federal Income Tax refund. You must fill out proper government forms when filing your taxes.

To determine how much your paper bonds are worth, use a complimentary SavingsBonds.com calculator which includes a comprehensive, personalized, printable Savings Bond Inventory Report.

What Do EE and I Bonds Cost?

Electronic EE and I Savings Bonds are purchased at face value. For example, you pay $100 for an EE or I $100 bond. Bonds increase in value as they earn interest.

Electronic EE and I Bonds can be purchased for any amount up to $10,000 – to the penny – for at least $25. For example, you could buy a $76.52 bond.

Paper bonds (using your tax refund) are only sold in five denominations; $50, $100, $200, $500, $1,000.

What Determines The Owner Of A Bond?

  • How a bond is registered determines who owns it and who can do transactions, and redeem (cash) it. 
  • Registration can be in the name of the owner (either a person or entity) with a valid social security number or valid Taxpayer Identification Number.
  • If applicable, the second-named owner (also known as co-owner on paper bonds) or beneficiary can redeem a bond.
  • Note: Paper bonds may only have a maximum of two names listed on them.

Who Can Own A Savings Bond?

Individuals must have a valid social security number and meet any one of the following three criteria:

  • A U.S resident.
  • A U.S. citizens, living in the US or abroad.
  • U.S. civilian employees, regardless of where they reside.

If a trust, estate, corporation, partnership or other entity has a valid social security number or Employer Identification Number, they may be able to own savings bonds. Corporations, partnerships, other entities may not own paper I Bonds. IMPORTANT: Verify information for any entity accounts for both paper and electronic series EE and I Bonds with the Treasury Department before purchasing any bonds.

What Information Do I Need To Buy A Savings Bond?

You will need the following 5 items to create an online TreasuryDirect Account to be able to purchase U.S. Savings Bonds:

1. Social security number (for an individual) or Taxpayer Identification Number.
2. Checking or Savings Account – including account and routing numbers.
3. Valid e-mail address. 
4. U.S. address of record.  
5. Web browser which supports 128-Bit encryption.  

How Much In Savings Bonds Can I Buy?

In each calendar year, currently you can accumulate for yourself:

  • Maximum of $10,000 in electronic I Bonds.
  • Maximum of $5,000 in paper I Bonds (using your Federal Income Tax refund).
  • Electronic and paper limits apply separately. Therefore, you can purchase up to $15,000 in series I Bonds in each calendar year.
  • Maximum of $10,000 in electronic EE Bonds.
  • Bonds you purchased for yourself and any bonds you received as gifts (or if transferred to you), will count towards your annual limits.*

*There are two exceptions which apply to annual purchase limits:

  1. Any paper bonds you own which were issued before 2008, can be converted to electronic versions into your online account, regardless of the value of the bonds.  Annual purchase limits prior to 2008 were more than the current $10,000 limit.
  2. If bonds are transferred to you as a result of the death of the original owner, those bond amounts do NOT count towards your annual limit.

How Do I Buy Bonds As Gifts For Others

When buying savings bonds as gifts, they must be held in your TreasuryDirect account for at least five business days before the bonds can delivered to the recipient.

  • You must have a TreasuryDirect Account to purchase bonds for others.
  • Bonds can be delivered only to recipients that have a valid TreasuryDirect account.
  • If recipient does not have an established TreasuryDirect account, buy the gift bond and hold it in your account’s “Gift Box” until the recipients account is created.
  • Children may not open a TreasuryDirect account, buy bonds, or conduct other transactions.
  • If buying electronic bonds for minors, an adult or custodian may set up the minors account and it will be linked to the adult or custodians account until the minor turns 18.
  • Adults can buy paper bonds in the name of a child.
  • You can buy up to $10,000 in EE Bonds per recipient AND up to $15,000 in I Bonds per recipient as gifts.
  • You can gift your paper bonds from your Federal Income Tax refund to others. The paper bonds will be delivered to you. You must forward the paper bond(s) to the recipient(s).
  • Important: Recipients can accumulate up to $10,000 in their account for EE Bonds, and another $15,000 (10,000 electronic & $5,000 paper) in I Bonds TOTAL per year regardless if they are received as gifts, were transferred into the account* or they purchased the bonds themselves.

Paper Savings Bonds were once a very popular go-to gift for birthdays, baptisms, graduations and weddings. They were easily purchased at local banks, credit unions, and various financial institutions. With electronic versions as the only available option (with the exception of using your Federal Income Tax refund), and the hassles associated with creating online accounts, younger generations are rarely receiving savings bonds as gifts, or even aware of what paper bonds looks like. That’s a shame.

About SavingsBonds.com: SavingsBonds.com is an online financial bond management company providing essential U.S. Savings Bond information since 1992. For over 26 years, bond experts have created various consumer programs, tools and services not offered elsewhere, including an online complimentary savings bond calculator, providing cash in values with important financial information presented on a personalized, color-coded Savings Bond Inventory Report. Unique savings bond management services include signature monthly summary emailed Savings Bond Statements, which help bond owners maximize their investment, avoid losing money and paying unnecessary taxes.

Last Updated: April 30, 2019


About the author

Jackie Brahney is the Marketing and Editorial Director and most notably, an U.S. Savings Bond Expert for SavingsBonds.com. Since 1991, she has done extensive research on savings bonds and state of the art savings bond valuation systems, and heads the company's public relations and marketing initiatives.

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