WWW.Huh?: Buy U.S. Savings Bonds Online
By Staff Sgt. Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 18, 1999 Service members who dislike automatic payroll deductions or who find it hard to commit money for U.S. Savings Bonds every month now have a way to buy that's just a mouse click way: online.
The site, www.savingsbonds.gov, is an easily navigable wealth of information. In addition to purchasing bonds, visitors can check current interest rates and learn about the types of bonds. Two types of bonds are sold online: Series EE and I.
The traditional Series EE Bonds sell for half their face value in six denominations from $50 to $1,000. Interest earnings rates are set every six months based on a formula involving five-year U.S. Treasury securities.
The new Series I Bonds sell at face value in five denominations from $50 to $500. Interest rates are also set semiannually, but for inflation based on a special consumer price index.
The Web site's first question is, "What type of savings bonds do you want to buy?" Images and detailed descriptions of both types follow. After choosing the type, you're asked to choose a denomination. A note informs customers that the maximum transaction is $500 -- $1,000 face value in the case of a Series EE bond.
The next step is to choose one of three ownership options: single, co-owner and beneficiary.
In the single option, only the owner named on the bond may cash it. If the owner dies, the bond becomes part of the owner's estate.
In the co-owner option, either owner listed on the bond may cash it without the knowledge or approval of the other. If one dies, the other becomes the sole owner.
In the beneficiary option, only the owner named on the bond may cash it. When the owner dies, the beneficiary becomes the owner and can cash the bond.
The next step is called, "Personalize It!" A handy button pops up asking, "Need help?" Personal information requested here includes owner's name and Social Security number, name of co-owner or beneficiary, and the mailing address the bonds will go to.
The site then displays an image of your bond. You're given the option of accepting the bond as it appears or correcting any information. Once you're satisfied with your bond, it's time to proceed with checkout. But first you're asked to provide a daytime telephone number and e-mail address in case there's a need to contact you.
Customers can pay online using a Visa or Mastercard credit card. The site advises that all bonds are sent via first class mail and should arrive within two weeks. They can be sent to APO and FPO boxes but not regular overseas addresses.
Another helpful feature is an online calculator that helps individuals determine the current worth of their bonds. For instance, a $50 Series EE bond purchased for $25 in January 1992 is worth $38.96 now and would fetch $40.12 if redeemed in February 2000. These figures are presented in an easy- to-read, printable table.
A section of the site specifically for children, www.savingsbonds.gov/sav/savkids.htm, features games, information, a glossary and information about the U.S. Savings Bonds 2000 National Student Poster Contest. The site also lists previous contest winners and shows their posters.
Questions about the site can be e-mailed to BuyBonds@bpd.treas.gov.