How Long Does It Take for Series EE Bonds to Mature?

Three United States Savings Bonds
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If you own U.S. Treasury bonds, you may have noticed some Series EE savings bonds mature on different dates. For example, the U.S. Treasury's EE bonds issued in 1981 and 1982 only took eight years to reach full face value, while the same EE bonds issued in 2020 take 20 years to reach their full face value.

The Treasury's website will help you calculate the exact maturity date of your bond, or you can estimate it if you know when the bond was purchased.

Maturity Dates for Series EE Bonds

The savings bonds work as zero-coupon bonds in which bond coupons, or interest payments, are added to the bond's principal value rather than paid out periodically.

The drastically different maturity dates for these bonds result from the differing rates of interest built into each Series EE bond when it is issued. Bonds issued today come with a fixed rate for up to 30 years. Older bonds purchased between 1997 and 2005 have a variable rate that changes twice a year, and bonds older than that have rates that depend on what year they were purchased.

In the past, EE bonds were purchased at a discount and they reached face value at maturity. If you purchase an EE bond today, you pay face value and the bond accrues interest as you hold it. Until the bond matures, it grows in value by the amount of interest, or coupons, accrued each year until either you cash it in or it reaches 30 years from date of issue.

The maturity dates for Series EE bonds are as follows:

  • Jan–Oct 1980: 11 years
  • Nov 1980–Apr 1981: 9 years
  • May 1981–Oct 1982: 8 years
  • Nov 1982–Oct 1986: 10 years
  • Nov 1986–Feb 1993: 12 years
  • Mar 1993–Apr 1995: 18 years
  • May 1995–May 2003: 17 years
  • After Jun 2003: 20 years

How Long to Wait to Cash Series EE Bonds

The U.S. Treasury Department gives you a guarantee that your EE bonds will reach maturity in 20 years. However, some reach maturity sooner depending on their built-in interest rate.

Before you move to cash in your bonds, check the issue date. You can't cash them in within one year of issue.

To avoid a penalty, you must hold the bond for at least five years. If you cash in before five years, you will forfeit the last three months of interest.

Some bonds may have an interest rate that's quite low—for example, bonds issued after November 2019 earn interest at a rate of 0.10%.

If you hold your bonds for 20 years and they still haven't reached their full face value, the Treasury will perform a one-time adjustment to bring up the bond's value so that you can cash it in for its full amount.

Interest Accrual and Compounding

Interest on your bond is fixed and accrues monthly for bonds issued in May 2005 and after, and the Treasury compounds it semiannually.

For bonds issued between May 1997 and April 2005, the interest is added every month and the rate is compounded semiannually. Interest is added every six months for most bonds issued before May 1997.

Although your bond may have reached maturity, it will continue to accrue interest until 30 years have elapsed from the date of issue.

If you're thinking of cashing out a savings bond, check the compounding date first; if you cash out before interest accrues again, you're leaving money on the table.

For Series EE Bonds issued before March 1993, Series EE Bonds issued May 1995 through April 1997, and Series EE Bonds issued from March 1993 through April 1995, the following table of interest accrual dates applies:

Series EE Bond Semiannual Interest Accrual Dates
If Month of issue is: Interest will be added on the first day of:
January or July January and July
February or August February and August
March or September March and September
April or October April and October
May or November May and November
June or December June and December

Are Series EE Savings Bonds the Right Fit?

By understanding how long it takes Series EE savings bonds time to mature, you can decide if they make sense for your portfolio. If savings bonds aren't the right fit, you could choose another alternative, such as broadly-diversified blue-chip stocks that generally earn at least 3%–4% returns.

If you have the fortitude to watch your account value fluctuate, or if you are in it purely for the cash income and you don't mind volatility, stocks may be a much better option considering the trend in low interest rates. You and your professional adviser can decide what works best based on your own needs, resources, and personality.