Figuring out how much a savings bond is worth can be tricky. Typically, a $200 savings bond is not worth exactly $200. This is because a bond collects interest. It won’t reach its face value for 20-to-30 years. But what if you want to know what your bond is worth today? There’s a quick and easy way to find out.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
To calculate the value of a $200 savings bond, visit the TreasuryDirect savings bond calculator and enter today's date, the bond series, the bond amount, the bond serial number and the bond's issue date.
How a Savings Bond Works:
A savings bond is issued by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Bonds are a handy way for the government to generate income to help pay off debts. Most savings bonds are purchased at half of the face value. So, if you have a $200 bond, it was purchased for $100. It should reach its face value of $200 after 20-or-30 years, depending on the type of bond you have. Savings bonds usually stop collecting interest 30 years after they’re issued.
Compared with other high-risk forms of investment, buying a savings bond is extremely safe. The U.S. government backs these bonds in good faith. This means you are guaranteed to be paid out whenever you trade your bond in, so long as you’ve had it for 12 months.
Calculating the Bond's Value
The good news is, you don’t have to wait 30 years to cash out your savings bond. After you’ve had it for 12 months, it’s eligible for trade-in. However, if your bond is less than five years old, you will lose three months of interest when you cash it out.
If you want to figure out the value of your savings bond today, first locate its serial number, issue date and series. The serial number should be in the bottom right-hand corner of the bond. The issue date and series will be located in the upper right-hand corner. Note that some bond series, such as A, B, C, D, F, G, H, HH, J and K are already worth their face value.
Now it’s time to visit the U.S. Department of Treasury’s website, TreasuryDirect. They have a useful calculator that allows you to easily figure out the value of your bond. You simply provide the bond’s serial number, issue date, series and face value and press “calculate.” Just like that, you’ve got your bond’s face value today.
Trading in Your Bond for Cash
You’re ready to cash your bond in. Now what? If you have a paper bond, you can cash it in at almost any financial institution, such as your local bank. This is the easiest and most popular way to cash in a bond. Over 95 percent of bonds are cashed in at banks. Another option is to send your bond to the Department of Treasury by mail. This will take a little longer to process.
If you have an electronic bond, you can cash it in on the TreasuryDirect website. First, you will need to create an account login. After you trade in your electronic bond online, the money will show up in your savings or checking account within a few business days.
Chelsea Levinson earned her B.S. in Business from Fordham University and her J.D. from Cardozo. She has been writing professionally for more than ten years. She has created personal finance content for Bank of America, H&R Block, Huffington Post and more.