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Savings Bond Redemption Values

Put very simply, savings bond redemption values show you what you will get back when your bond matures or when you cash them in (known as 'redemption', since there is no free market for US government savings bonds, so they have to be 'redeemed' by the Treasury).

That seems a simple concept, but in practice the redemption value can be difficult to determine. For instance, Series EE US Savings Bonds are issued at a fifty percent discount to their face value. Interest is accrued, rather than being paid to the investor, and when the bond matures, it is repaid at its face value, and with the accrued interest. The redemption value includes both principal (your original investment) and interest. So if the bond is cashed before reaching maturity, the accrued interest up to that date needs to be worked out to assess the value of the bond at that point.

The relatively new Series I savings bonds are even more complex, since their interest rate is set as a combination of a fixed rate and an inflation related amount. The inflation proportion of the rate is adjusted every six months based on the Consumer Price index for all urban consumers (CPI-U), as long as the combined rate is greater than zero. Like EE savings bonds, they don't pay interest out, but accrue it.

Savings Bond redemption values are difficult to calculate yourself. Fortunately the US Treasury includes a number of savings bond redemption calculators on its web site (TreasuryDirect). You will need to know the date of issue of the bonds, as well as the amount held, to use the calculator.

The savings bond redemption value increases periodically as interest is added to the principal. For instance series EE savings bonds increase in value every month, on the first of the month, as interest is accrued. (However, the interest is only compounded twice a year, every 6 months from the date of acquisition - that is, it's only at that point that you start earning interest on the interest that has been paid in the last six months, as well as on the principal. You can easily see why you need a calculator to work out the savings bond redemption value!)

It is also worth noting that US government savings bonds are long term investments. They must be held at least a year before they can be redeemed, and there are penalties if they are cashed in within five years of issue.

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