Recently, the US Treasury stopped offering paper versions of  Series I savings bonds and Series EE savings bonds. These popular bonds can no longer be found at the local bank or credit union, so you’ll need to know how to buy savings bonds online. You can go online and buy them through TreasuryDirect, which is also the same site used to buy Treasury notes and bills.

The process for buying is fairly straightforward. You need to open an account with TreasuryDirect and go from there. You will need a few pieces of information in order to open your TreasuryDirect account:

  • Social Security number (or taxpayer ID)
  • Email address
  • US address
  • Phone number
  • Bank information (account number and routing number) for the account you will be using to make purchases

You’ll set up an account password, and engage in all of those other little actions required when you open a new financial account. Once you have an account opened, you have a couple more steps to go through. You need to wait until you receive your account number via email. Once you use your account number, you will be issued a passcode. Note that this passcode is not the same thing as your account password. You either need to get a new passcode each time you log onto TreasuryDirect, or you need to follow the steps necessary to register your computer so that a passcode isn’t necessary.

Once in, you can choose from a variety of Treasury products. If you are looking for savings bonds, make sure you choose the type you want: Series I or Series EE. You can buy the bonds in denominations ranging from $25 to $10,000. Additionally, you don’t have to worry about buying in specific increments; with savings bonds you are welcome to specify a particular amount — to the penny.

Giving Savings Bonds as Gifts

One of the reasons that savings bonds are so popular is due to the fact that they are easy to give as gifts. While the return on them isn’t very good, it’s still higher than what you could get with a high yield savings account. However, since you can’t just buy a paper bond to slip in an envelope anymore, you will need to jump through a few hoops in order to give your savings bond as a gift.

First of all, in order for someone to receive the gift of your savings bond, he or she will need a TreasuryDirect account. Minor children need to have an account that is linked to a guardian’s account. You don’t have to wait until all of this happens, though, to give the gift. When you make your purchase, there is a gift option you can select. Select this option, and your savings bond goes into a virtual holding area. After the recipient opens a TreasuryDirect account, and has everything set up, it’s possible to then transfer the bond and have an email sent to the recipient.

As a nice thought, TreasuryDirect does offer you the ability to print out a gift certificate related to the savings bond. You can slip it in a card if you like. However, it is basically worthless. The recipient will still need a TreasuryDirect account to redeem the gift.