How to cash in US savings bonds

If you’ve ever gotten a savings bond as a gift—or bought one for yourself—you may have put it away for safekeeping until it's the right time to cash it in. But just how long do you have to wait? And where do you go to cash in a bond?

Since there are various types of bonds, the process for cashing them in can be different. Here’s what you need to know about common types of bonds, how they work and how to cash them in.

Key takeaways 

  • There are a variety of savings bonds—including Series E, Series EE, Series H and Series I—that earn interest over a specific time period such as 20-30 years.
  • You can purchase bonds at TreasuryDirect.gov—it’s a one-stop shop for savings bonds rates and other information. 
  • Bonds may be cashed in by mail or via direct deposit.
  • Some banks and credit unions may be able to cash savings bonds, but that service isn’t currently available at Capital One.

See if you’re pre-approved

Check for pre-approval offers with no risk to your credit score.

Get started

What are savings bonds?

A U.S. savings bond is a form of investment—one that’s issued and backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. Because their value can’t decrease, savings bonds are considered a safe vehicle for investing money.

When you purchase a savings bond, you’re lending money to the U.S. government. The government pays you back over time for the purchase amount of the bond plus interest. 

Savings bonds available for sale today can earn interest for up to 30 years. And they can be purchased for as little as $25. You can buy them for yourself or as a gift for someone else. 

Bonds can be purchased electronically through TreasuryDirect.gov, which claims to be the “one and only place to electronically buy and redeem” savings bonds. Paper savings bonds are no longer available from financial institutions. And according to the Treasury Department, “The only way to get a paper savings bond now is to use your IRS tax refund."

Types of US savings bonds and how to cash them in

The types of savings bonds offered have changed over time. Today, Series EE and Series I bonds are available for purchase—but well-known Series E and Series HH bonds have been discontinued. If you own either a Series E or Series HH bond, it can still be cashed in.

Here’s a breakdown of those types of bonds and how to cash them in.

Series EE savings bonds

Series EE bonds were first issued in 1980 and are still being sold today. New EE bonds are available in electronic form only. But you may own a Series EE bond in paper form issued between 1980 and 2012.

Series EE bonds reach final maturity at 30 years.

Series EE bonds sold in May 2005 or after earn a fixed interest rate that’s set when you buy the bond. They earn that rate for the first 20 years after purchase. After that, the government may adjust the rate—or the way in which EE bonds earn interest.

You can cash in an EE savings bond after you’ve owned it for one year—but the longer you own the bond, the more you’ll earn. 

How to cash in Series EE savings bonds

  • Paper Series EE savings bonds: You may be able to cash these bonds in at your bank if it provides that service. You can also cash them in by mail through TreasuryDirect.gov. Complete FS Form 1522 and mail your bonds with the form to the address provided. Your funds will be transferred to your checking or savings account via direct deposit.
  • Electronic Series EE savings bonds: You can create a new TreasuryDirect.gov account or sign in to your existing one. Follow the instructions to have your funds transferred to your checking or savings account via direct deposit.

Series I savings bonds

Series I bonds were first issued in 1998 and are still being sold today. They’re available in electronic or paper form.

Series I bonds reach final maturity at 30 years.

These bonds are designed to help protect purchasers from inflation. To do this, they earn a “composite” interest rate—a fixed rate that stays the same for the life of the bond plus an inflation rate that changes twice a year in accordance with the consumer price index.

You can cash in a Series I bond after a year—but you’ll earn more if you hold onto the bond longer.

How to cash in Series I savings bonds

  • Paper Series I savings bonds: You may be able to cash these bonds in at your bank if it provides that service. You can also cash them in by mail through TreasuryDirect.gov. Complete FS Form 1522 and mail your bonds with the form to the address provided. Your funds will be transferred to your checking or savings account via direct deposit.
  • Electronic Series I savings bonds: You can create a TreasuryDirect.gov account or sign in to your existing one. Follow the instructions to have your funds transferred to your checking or savings account via direct deposit.

Series E savings bonds

Series E bonds were issued between 1941 and 1980 in paper form only. Series E bonds have been discontinued. 

Series E bonds issued through November 1965 had a final maturity date of 40 years—and those issued starting in December 1965 had a final maturity date of 30 years. That means the last issued Series E bonds would have reached final maturity in 2010.

How to cash in Series E savings bonds

You may be able to cash these bonds in at your bank if it provides that service. You can also cash them in by mail through TreasuryDirect.gov. Complete FS Form 1522 and mail your bonds with the form to the address provided. Your funds will be transferred to your checking or savings account via direct deposit.

Series HH savings bonds

Series HH bonds were issued between 1980 and 2004. They were issued in paper form only. Series HH bonds have been discontinued. 

Series HH bonds earn a fixed interest rate that was set on the day they were purchased. This rate remains fixed for the first 10 years after purchase. After that, the rate is reset for the remaining 10 years.

Series HH bonds reach final maturity at 20 years. That means you could still be earning interest on a Series HH bond, depending on when you purchased it.

How to cash in Series HH savings bonds

Series HH bonds can’t be cashed in at a bank or other financial institution. Instead, you can cash them in by mail through TreasuryDirect.gov. Complete FS Form 1522 and mail your bonds with the form to the address provided. Your funds will be transferred to your checking or savings account via direct deposit.

How much are my savings bonds worth?

For paper savings bonds, a savings bond calculator can come in handy. It can let you know whether your bonds have matured and then help you determine their value. 

To use the calculator, you’ll need to know the type of bond you’d like to cash in, its denomination and the date it was issued. If you know the bond’s serial number, that can be helpful—but it’s not necessary. Simply put the information requested into the calculator and click the calculate button to get your results.

For electronic savings bonds, you won’t need to use a savings bond calculator. Instead, you can create an account at TreasuryDirect.gov—or sign in to your existing one—to check a bond’s value.

Savings bonds FAQ

Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about savings bonds:

You’ll generally need to report savings bond interest as income for your federal taxes. But you won’t pay state or local taxes on the interest. 

You can purchase a savings bond—for either adults or children—at TreasuryDirect.gov. You’ll need to provide the recipient’s full name and Social Security number. For electronic Series EE or Series I bonds, you’ll need to have a TreasuryDirect.gov account and so will the recipient. 

You can also gift Series I savings bonds in paper form. There’s only one way to purchase this type of bond, which is by using your IRS tax refund.

If you have a savings bond that’s lost, stolen or destroyed, you may be able to have the bond reissued. To start that process, file a claim using FS Form 1048. You’ll need to provide information such as the month and year the bond was purchased.

Yes, you can cash in Series EE, Series I and Series HH savings bonds early. Of course, it may be to your advantage to keep them until they’ve reached final maturity.

The last issued Series E savings bonds would have reached final maturity in 2010. For that reason, cashing them in early isn’t an issue.

Savings bonds in a nutshell

Savings bonds have long been recognized as a low-risk investment because they’re backed by the U.S. government. But the way bonds are issued and cashed in has changed over time. Paper bonds were once the norm and could be cashed in at certain banks and financial institutions. But today it’s more common to buy and cash in savings bonds electronically.

Whether you’re looking to cash in paper savings bonds or electronic ones, it could help to remember that your bond will be worth more if you wait until after it’s reached full maturity.

Savings bonds are one savings vehicle that you can use to start or continue investing. If you’re looking for additional long-term ways to maximize your savings, you could consider the high-yield savings account from Capital One.

Related Content