As of 2009, there was a whopping $16.7 billion worth of matured and unredeemed savings bonds in our junk drawers, attics, file cabinets and who-knows-where-else. While unredeemed bonds are good for the country, it is bad for the people who are entitled to these funds.
What do you do when you find an old paper savings bond you received as a child? The short answer: cash it in. Most savings bonds mature and stop earning interest after 30 years, and some have shorter maturity periods. The series of bond you have should give you a good idea if the bond has expired.
- Series H//HH – Series H/HH bonds paid interest throughout the life of the bond and were redeemable at face value. All H bonds have matured, and HH bonds that were issued more than 20 years ago have matured. These bonds are no longer available for purchase.
- Series I – These bonds pay the face value plus the interest that has accrued over the life of the bond. Any bonds issued more than 30 years ago have matured.
- Series E/EE – These bonds have changed over time. Older bonds were sold at discount and redeemed at face value, but newer issues were sold at face value and pay accrued interest similarly to Series I bonds. All E bonds have matured, as have EE bonds that were issued more than 30 years ago.
If you are not sure about the status of the bond, you can go to TreasuryDirect.gov and look up the bond to see if it has matured yet, or if it has already been redeemed. The Savings Bond Calculator at http://treasurydirect.gov/BC/SBCPrice can tell you the current value of your bond when you input the bond series, denomination, serial number and issue date.
The simplest way to redeem your E/EE or I series paper bond is at a local bank branch. Not all bank branches can redeem bonds, so call first – you may have to go to a main branch. It is also good to verify with the bank what identification you will need.
Usually if you are redeeming more than $1,000 in bonds, you will need to be an account holder at the bank and extra identification may be required. Once at the bank, you will need to complete the "Request for Payment" section on the back of each bond, and sign it in the presence of the appropriate bank personnel.
Banks cannot redeem H/HH bonds; they can only be redeemed through the Treasury Retail Securities Website. Instructions are available at www.treasurydirect.gov. You can also redeem other bonds this way if you prefer.
Older, obscure bonds such as Series A – D and Savings Notes are redeemed similarly to Series E/EE and I bonds; ones such as F, G, J, and K series are redeemed similarly to H/HH bonds. If you are not sure what you have, check the Treasury Direct website or contact your local bank for assistance.
What if you find someone else's bond, such as one issued in your late grandmother's name? Savings bonds cannot be traded or sold, so if you are not an owner or co-owner, you must provide sufficient proof to the bank that you are a beneficiary or legal representative to be able to cash the bonds. Otherwise, you will need to fill out a form to request disposition of the bonds – instructions are available at http://treasurydirect.gov/indiv/research/indepth/ebonds/res_e_bonds_eedeath.htm .
If you have some of those billions in unredeemed savings bonds, turn that old paper into paper money. After all of the taxes you've paid through the years, don't you deserve to get a check from the government for a change? Consider whether you are on track to meet your retirement goals, and if not, put your bond returns towards your retirement savings. Let the free Retirement Planner by MoneyTips help you calculate when you can retire without jeopardizing your lifestyle.