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Buying Paper Savings Bonds

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Today is the very last day to take advantage of the 1.20% fixed rate component on Series I Savings Bonds (unless they remain at 1.20% in the next six-month period) and if you don’t have an active TreasuryDirect account with a linked bank account, you won’t have enough time to open one and purchase electronic bonds by the close of business today (last day in April). Fortunately, you can purchase paper savings bonds from most major banks and credit unions through Form PD F 5374 (I believe PD F stands for Public Debt Form) Order for Series I US Savings Bond that they should have on hand.

The form takes about five minutes to complete and allows you to purchase bonds for yourself or on behalf of someone else. All you will need is the owner’s social security number and the amount of the bonds in cash, cashier’s check, or personal check from the bank you’re buying the funds from. If you’re buying it through M&T Bank, to use a personal check you’ll need to have an account there and use a personal check from that account. It’s not a problem if you don’t have a personal check, you’ll simply withdraw the funds and have the bank issue a cashier’s check (that’s what I did).

Remember, there is an annual limit of $5,000 per social security number for the Series I Savings Bond – be sure not to exceed that (I assume the bank will notify you if you try to purchase too much). Also, you may purchase $5,000 in paper bonds and an additional $5,000 in electronic bonds. (I bet this is because their paper and online systems aren’t connected so there’s no way they could enforce a single shared limit)

Lastly, the bonds won’t be issued right there, but the effective date of the bonds will be that date. The bank is authorized to act as an agent of the Treasury Department and so the purchase is effective as of the date on the stamp. When I bought them yesterday, it had a effective stamp date of April 29th. According to the back of the order form, processing takes about three weeks.

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