How To Redeem Government Bonds

Earlier this week, Consumerist published a story about how you can check for unredeemed, matured government bonds by checking with TreasuryDirect. Here’s how to redeem a bond.

You may have asked yourself, how the heck does this happen? How do you forget to redeem a bond?

It’s actually quite simple. Back in the days before TreasuryDirect, you would buy your bonds at your local bank. You would be issued a paper certificate. Most people filed these away in a safety deposit box or stuck them in with their other financial files. Series EE and Series I bonds earn interest for thirty years. After 30 years, they stop earning interest and you have to redeem them. People simply forget they have them!

With TreasuryDirect and electronic bonds, you don’t have to worry about that. After thirty years, the bonds automatically convert into a Zero-Percent Certificate of Indebtedness. C of I is simply their fancy name of a certificate that earns nothing. From here, you can withdraw the funds into your bank account or use it to buy another bond. You can always convert a paper bond into an electronic bond.

If you’ve located a paper bond and don’t know how to redeem them, TreasuryDirect has some great resources explaining it:
Redeeming Series I Bonds
Redeeming Series EE Bonds
Special situations for both – Children’s bonds, deaths, residency outside the United States

Jim writes about personal finance at

(Photo: blitzcat)


Edit Your Comment

  1. I Love New Jersey says:

    I see why someone would want to redeem these now. I wouldn’t buy any new ones since voluntarily giving money to irresponsible spenders is not a good idea.

  2. morlo says:

    Converting paper bonds into electronic ones lets you redeem them for free, rather than paying your local bank $x/each.

    • CFinWV says:

      @morlo: My credit union didn’t charge me to redeem mine recently. Is this standard?

    • flakeyblakee says:


      CU FTW! WOOT!

    • dorastandpipe says:

      @morlo: I have never paid any bank to redeem a bond. And, when I worked for a bank…we never charged anyone for redeeming them either. Can someone shed some light on this fee for me?

      • morlo says:

        @dorastandpipe: Banks usually have a “fee schedule” listing various charges for back statements, notary service, etc. Maybe I’m out of date since I closed my local accounts 8 years ago for internet only banks, but previous to that it was standard to charge per bond. I’m not coming up with anything by searching, so it’s probable that the Treasury’s e-services made it possible/necessary for banks to eliminate fees.

    • DaBull says:

      @morlo: I’ve also never had to pay a fee for redeeming bonds at my bank.

  3. AntaresIV says:

    My grandfather has sheets of Bank of China treasury bonds from 1942, does anyone know if these are worth anything more than the historical value they are to my family?

    • jamar0303 says:

      @AntaresIV: Bank of CHINA? Wha? I had no idea they had the authority to issue treasury bonds.

      (note- I am taking this comment at face value. if there is any sarcasm or irony implied then I reserve the right to take back any embarrassing-sounding comment in light of such)

  4. trashbaby says:

    You can call 1-800-USBONDS to find a location near you that will cash your bonds.

  5. MaytagRepairman says:

    Thanks for the information on converting to electronic bonds! I have a EE that I bought back when they were earning over 6% about 20 some years ago that I should dig out and review what has been going on with it.

  6. MooseOfReason says:

    Do it nao!

    Seriously, though. The dollar is on its way down. Your bond’s value will only lower with it.

  7. Yoko Broke Up The Beatles says:

    My old man recently cashed a bunch of fully-matured bonds into cash to deposit into his savings account. He doesn’t need the money or anything, but his rationale was that the fully-matured bonds aren’t earning him any more money, whereas cashing them and putting them in his savings will get him some (albeit very little) interest. I see pros and cons with his argument.

  8. Dave says:

    Sure you can redeem them, but the TreasuryDirect site is just plain awful and unusable. From their “security” to not being able to use your browser’s back button…EVER.

  9. Black-Cat says:

    Hurry up and get rid of them before they are worth no more than toliet paper.