U.S. Treasury Securities
U.S. Treasury securities are essentially loans to the U.S. government for a predetermined time period.
All Treasury notes, bills, and bonds are widely accepted to have the least amount of credit risk because they are backed by the "full faith and credit of the U.S. government." Because of this, U.S. Treasuries are typically perceived to be one of the safest investment instruments available, though like any other financial instrument, safety can never be guaranteed.
U.S. Treasury Notes and Bonds
The U.S. Treasury issues notes and bonds that pay interest every six months. The coupon is the stated interest rate of that security.
Notes are currently issued in two, three, five and 10-year maturities. Bonds are currently issued in 30-year maturities. Both instruments are sold in minimum amounts of $1,000 and multiples of the same.
U.S. Treasury Bills
U.S. Treasury bills are instruments purchased in the public sector and are commonly known as T-bills. These short-term obligations, with terms of one year or less, are issued in minimum amounts of $1,000, with multiples of $1,000. They are issued at a discount from their face value.
For example, you may purchase a T-bill at $975 for a $1,000 issue. At maturity, you will be paid the par value of $1,000. The interest payment you will receive is determined on the par value minus the purchase price, such as in our example, which was an interest payment of $25.
All U.S. Treasuries are backed by the full faith and credit of the United States. Because of this, U.S. Treasury notes, bonds and bills (also known as Treasuries) are recognized by world financial markets as one of the safest and most reliable investment instruments available. The U.S. Department of the Treasury issues these treasuries in various maturities up to 30 years.
Notes and bonds pay interest semiannually. Interest is calculated using an actual monthly day count and an actual annual day count, and notes and bonds settle one day after trade (T+1).
U.S. Treasury securities offer high liquidity, with secondary market capabilities available and a wide range of maturity dates. They are tax-exempt from local and state governing bodies, most are non-callable and bills, notes and bonds are issued on a daily, monthly or quarterly basis.
Treasuries have market risk associated with fluctuations in interest rates like any fixed-income security. They often offer the lowest returns because of their high degree of safety and liquidity and with longer-term issues possessing more price volatility than shorter-term instruments.
You can buy Treasuries directly from the U.S. Treasury or through a bank or brokerage firm such as Multi-Bank Securities, Inc. (MBS). To purchase through MBS, you need to open an account.