What Are Series HH Savings Bonds?

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DEFINITION

Series HH savings bonds are a kind of bond that was issued by the U.S. Treasury up until 2004. While investors can no longer buy new Series HH savings bonds, there are some bonds still being held that haven't yet matured.

Definition and Examples of Series HH Savings Bonds

Series HH bonds were a type of savings bond program, offered by the U.S. Treasury, that regularly paid out interest to investors. They worked differently from Series EE savings bonds, which instead added that interest income back to the principal value of the bond.

Investors enjoyed the passive income made possible by investing in Series HH bonds. These bonds came with face values of $500, $1,000, $5,000, and $10,000.

This savings bond program was designed to reward patient, long-term investors who held the bonds to maturity.

How Do Series HH Savings Bonds Work?

When an investor bought a Series HH savings bond, they received a paper certificate that detailed their purchase. If that investor wanted to cash in the bond early, then they needed to return that paper certificate.

While an investor held Series HH bonds, they would receive interest payments every six months. The interest was deposited directly into the bondholder's bank account, providing a steady source of investment income that could be spent while the bond was still held.

Like all Treasury bonds, Series HH savings bonds were backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, which has historically provided among the lowest levels of risk possible for an investor.

Series HH savings bonds had a minimum holding time of six months. After that, an investor could cash in their bonds for the full face value at any time.

The Interest Rate on Series HH Savings Bonds

The interest rate for the Series HH savings bonds was set every six months. When an investor bought a Series HH bond, they locked in that interest rate for 10 years, after which the rate could be adjusted for the next 10 years. Series HH savings bonds reach maturity and stop earning interest income altogether 20 years after the investor bought them. At maturity, the investor is repaid the face value.

Because the last Series HH bonds were issued in 2004, some are still paying out interest.

Interest income received from Series HH savings bonds must be reported in the tax year it is received, but it is not subject to state and local taxes.

Like the Series I savings bond, the Series HH savings bonds could be redeemed for full face value at any time after the minimum holding period. That means investors didn't need to wait 20 years to get their principal back. However, once an investor receives their principal back, they stop earning interest income.

What It Means for Individual Investors

Since Series HH savings bonds mature after 20 years, the last of these investment vehicles will mature in August 2024, so it's likely that there are still Series HH savings bonds out there somewhere. However, since these bonds can be cashed early, there may be fewer bonds remaining than were originally issued back in the early 2000s. The bonds that are still held will continue paying interest until they mature 20 years after their dates of issue.

If you own a Series HH Bond, you may still be collecting interest if the bond hasn't matured yet. You can also cash in the bond if you choose.

While your local bank can't directly cash out the bonds for you, it can help you take the steps necessary to receive your principal back. Those include certifying your signature on documents and helping you mail bond certificates to the appropriate Treasury Department address.

Alternatives to Series HH Bonds

On September, 2004, the U.S. Treasury Department stopped offering Series HH savings bonds to investors, officially ending the program altogether. While the Treasury Department continues to offer other kinds of bonds, there is not a Series HH replacement that perfectly replicates the features of this program.

If you're still interested in owning savings bonds, you could choose Series EE bonds, which earn interest for up to 30 years, or Series I bonds, which earn interest that's tied to the inflation rate.

You could also choose other Treasury securities, such as Treasury bills, notes, and bonds, or Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS).

Key Takeaways

  • Series HH savings bonds were a type of Treasury bond that directly deposited interest payments into an investor's account.
  • These bonds matured after 20 years and paid interest every six months, but investors could cash in their bonds for the full face value at any time after a required holding period.
  • This bond program was ended in 2004, which means that the last of these bonds will mature in August 2024—unless they're first cashed in.

Article Sources

  1. Treasury Direct. "Series HH Savings Bonds."

  2. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. "U.S. Savings Bonds."