If you have your Patriot bonds in hand, you might be able to convert the bonds to cash before the end of the day. Because your Patriot bonds are regular series EE savings bonds, cashing in the bonds is a well-oiled process. As long as the bonds are in your name, they're almost as good as cash.
At Your Bank
Cash your Patriot bonds of any amount at a bank where you have an established account. You can also use a bank where a relative or friend has an account and will vouch for you as the owner of the bonds. The only requirement is that you are the listed owner or one of the co-owners on a bond. A bank officer will verify that you are the owner of the bond, take down your personal information if items such as the Social Security number on the bond are not correct, and give you cash in the amount of the current redemption value of the bond or bonds.
At Another Bank
You can take your Patriot bonds to a bank where you don't bank and sometimes have up to $1,000 worth of bonds redeemed. If you have less than the $1,000 cutoff in bonds, go to the nearest branch of any bank and ask if you can cash them in. Since you aren't a customer at this bank, you'll need to some form of picture identification. A driver's license or state-issued ID works best, but the Treasury guidelines on acceptable forms of identification are quite broad. A trade license or employer-issued ID card may be acceptable if it has a photograph.
Redeem by Mail
The U.S. Treasury will redeem mailed-in Patriot bonds, sending back a government check that you can cash or deposit. You still must first go into a bank and have a bank officer verify your ID information on the bond. The banker can also provide the correct mailing address. Cashing by mail may be your only option if you have more than $1,000 worth of bonds and no local bank account. Getting a check for the value of your Patriot bonds may also be more convenient than cash. It will take the Treasury several weeks to process your request and send you a check, but you can also arrange to have the money deposited directly into your bank account if you fill out Form 1522 and send it along with your bonds.
Patriot Bond Considerations
Find the current value of your bonds by using the savings bond calculator on the TreasuryDirect.gov website. If one or more of your Patriot bonds is less than five years old, the redemption value will be reduced by three month's worth of interest penalty. The interest your bonds have earned has not yet been taxed. Either the Treasury or the bank where you cashed the bonds will send you a Form 1099-INT so you can include the interest on your next tax return.
Tim Plaehn has been writing financial, investment and trading articles and blogs since 2007. His work has appeared online at Seeking Alpha, Marketwatch.com and various other websites. Plaehn has a bachelor's degree in mathematics from the U.S. Air Force Academy.