Five things to know about US savings bonds

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Friday, March 23, 2012
— A Janesville woman was recently surprised when she wasn't able to buy U.S. savings bonds at her local bank.

She wondered how that could be.

As of Jan. 1, the U.S. Department of Treasury ended sales of paper Series EE and I savings bonds through over-the-counter channels, including financial institutions and mail-in orders.

The department said paper savings bonds are costly to produce and maintain. Ending sales of paper bonds will save an estimated $70 million in the next five years and is a continuation of an all-electronic initiative announced in April 2010.

Here are five things to know about the change, according to the department:

1. Savings bonds will remain available for purchase as electronic issues in at TreasuryDirect.gov.

The department said its new initiative will increase electronic transactions, reduce costs and enhance customer service.

2. What happens to the paper bonds I already own?

The bonds remain valid and will earn interest for 30 years or until redeemed. Paper bonds can be converted to electronic savings bonds in TreasuryDirect.gov using a program called "SmartExchange." There's no charge to convert paper bonds. They won't lose any of the interest earned and they retain their original issue dates and interest rate terms.

3. I like to give savings bonds as gifts. Can I do that with treasurydirect.gov?

TreasuryDirect.gov does have a gift bond feature so you can buy electronic savings bonds as gifts. The recipient of the gift must have a TreasuryDirect account, or be named on a minor linked account if under 18 years old, to receive the gift.

4. How long does it take to open a TreasuryDirect account?

Setting up an online account is easy and can be accomplished in about 10 minutes. Personal information will be processed in less than a minute after your TreasuryDirect account information has been submitted.

5. To use TreasuryDirect, do I need to have a bank account, Internet access, and an e-mail account?

You will need to have an account at a financial institution to receive direct deposit payments and as a potential funding source for purchases. You also will need Internet access to view and use your account. Finally, an e-mail address is necessary so that you can receive important messages about your account.

Last updated: 7:53 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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