How to Buy Treasury Securities Directly

Treasury securities come in the form of notes, bonds and bills.

United States Treasury Bond bought direct.
You can buy government bonds direct and pay no commissions. William Thomas Cain / Stringer/ Getty Images

Treasury securities are another name for government bonds. They are considered a risk-free way to invest, as your principal is backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. Government. Interest on treasury securities is exempt from state and local income taxes but is subject to federal income taxes.

You can buy treasury securities directly from the government via the Treasury Direct website. Here's an overview of what types of securities you can buy direct.

Open A Treasury Direct Account to Buy Any of the Following Securities

You can open an account directly with the Treasury, similar to opening a bank account. Within the Treasury Direct account you can buy any of the following Treasury securities:

  • Treasury Bills
    These securities are sold at a discount and mature in less than 52 weeks.
    Discount rate is determined at auction.
    Can be sold anytime at current market value.
    Minimum purchase amount of $100.
  • Treasury Notes
    Pay interest every 6 months.
    Issued with maturities of 2, 3, 5, 7, and 10 years.
    Interest rate, or yield, is determined at auction.
    Can be sold anytime at current market value.
    Minimum purchase amount of $100.
  • Treasury Bonds
    Pay interest every six months.
    Issued with maturities of 30 years.
    Can be sold anytime at current market value.
    Minimum purchase amount of $100.
  • TIPS (Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities)
    Pay interest every six months.
    Issued with maturities of 5, 10 and 20 years.
    Interest rate, or yield, is determined at auction. Principal is adjusted with inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
    Can be sold anytime at current market value. Minimum purchase amount of $100.

    Note: For these four treasury securities listed above (treasury bills, notes, bonds or TIPS), if they are sold before maturity you may get more or less money than what you paid for them.

    You can also buy an even more secure form of government bonds; EE or I Bonds.

    • EE/E Savings Bonds
      For bonds issued after May 2005:
      Minimum purchase amount of $25 if purchased online.
      Maximum purchase amount of $10,000 per year, per person.
      Pay a fixed interest rate, based on current market rates at issue.
      Interest is credited through an increase in the bond’s value each month and is paid when you cash in the bond.
      Bonds can be redeemed, or sold, after one year, but you will forfeit 3 months interest if you redeem your bond within five years of purchase.
    • I Bonds - Savings Bonds
      Minimum purchase amount of $25 if purchased online.
      Maximum purchase amount of $10,000 per year, per person.
      Inflation-adjusted interest accrues monthly and is paid when you cash in the bond.
      Bonds can be redeemed, or sold, after one year, but you will forfeit 3 months interest if you redeem your bond within five years of purchase.

    Note: with series EE/E and I Savings bonds (listed above) you will not get less than what you paid even if you sell (redeem) the bond before it matures, but you will forfeit 3 months interest if you redeem the bonds before owning them for a full five years.

    Buy Treasury Securities Through Payroll Deduction

    Want to make regular contributions to your new account? You can fill out a form on the Treasury Direct website to request that your employer allow you to contribute to your Treasury account via payroll deduction.

    You can also link your Treasury Direct account to a checking account, making it easy for you to make deposits or withdrawals.

    Deposit Your Paper Savings Bonds into Your Treasury Direct Account

    If you already own paper savings bonds you can now use the Treasury’s SmartExchange program to deposit your bonds into an online account. This will make it much easier to manage your savings bonds going forward.

    Once deposited, bond values, maturity dates and interest paid can be viewed anytime online.