MOVE OVER, DAY TRADERS: T-BILL BUYERS USE NET, TOO
FEDERAL WEB SITES LET CONSERVATIVE INVESTORS BUY
By Dolores Kong
The Boston Globe
The Internet isn't just for day traders, tech-stock
mavens, or others who want in on the excitement of the
stock market. It's also for individual investors who
want to buy something as conservative as US Treasury
securities and savings bonds.
At www.treasurydirect.gov and
www.publicdebt.treas.gov, you can make a direct
purchase of Treasury securities online - once you have
mailed in a paper application to establish a
And at www.savingsbonds.gov, parents, aunts and
uncles, and grandparents can buy that perennially
popular gift for young children - the US savings bond
- with a credit card.
Either way, through the purchase of Treasuries or
savings bonds, investors are helping to fund the $5.7
trillion US debt.
The government doesn't give financial advice, but
there are advantages to Treasuries worth mentioning,
said Larry Grey, manager of TreasuryDirect for the
Federal Reserve Bank in Boston:
"One is, they're not subject to state taxes.
"The second one is, they're guaranteed by the
Even before the Internet, the TreasuryDirect program
let individuals buy Treasury bills, notes, and bonds
directly from the government, without a broker or
commission. But the process was cumbersome, usually
involving a trip to a Federal Reserve Bank or the use
of a cashier's or certified check.
Now, once your TreasuryDirect account is open and the
government has bank account debit information, you can
order directly on the Internet. Account holders can
also call 800-943-6864.
Online ordering is just one of the latest additions to
TreasuryDirect. "One of the things the Treasury is
doing is trying to make it so customers can be
self-sufficient," Grey said.
Investors can still get an application by mail. Call
(617) 973- 3811 and leave your name and address.
Later, you can mail in a purchase order.
The Treasury has gotten rid of the walk-up windows at
Federal Reserve Banks, though.
Technology also makes it easier to reinvest and sell
Treasuries and to pay the $25 fee due annually on
accounts with balances over $100,000.
The Web sites provide plenty of information about
Treasuries - including auction dates, interest rates,
and minimum investment amounts .
There are also downloadable applications and a history
of the public debt.
Rules for buying Treasuries can be somewhat
complicated, so check the sites carefully. Some
- Treasury bills, or T-bills, are short-term
obligations that mature in one year or less and are
sold at a discount from face value, paying interest at
maturity. Last week, an auction of three-month T-
bills resulted in a 5.682 percent interest rate;
six-month T-bills had a 6.032 percent rate.
- Treasury notes' terms range from more than a year to
- Bonds are issued with a term of more than 10 years.
- Both Treasury notes and bonds pay set interest
rates, with payments made twice a year.
- The inflation-indexed versions of Treasury notes and
bonds adjust the principal based on the Consumer Price
Index and pay interest twice a year.
- The minimum investment for all forms of Treasury
securities is $1,000.
US savings bonds are even easier to buy online than
Treasuries. You don't need to open an account first.
Simply go to savingsbonds.gov and click the "Savings
Bond Connection" link.
You can then shop for everything from a $50 Series I
savings bond to a $1,000 face-value Series EE bond and
pay online with MasterCard or Visa.
The site also lets users print out gift certificates.A
savings bond calculator helps you figure out what a
bond is worth today; other tools help you to calculate
everything from the tax advantages of savings bonds to
the growth you can expect from the investment.
Other Internet sites of interest for prospective
buyers of Treasuries include: