The U.S. has a long history of selling bonds to support its past war efforts. Series E savings bonds were initially sold by the U.S. government in 1941 as war savings bonds in support of Armed Forces efforts in World War II. Regardless of whether you bought Series E bonds early in their history to support the war effort or later on when they were sold as regular savings bonds, it's smart at this point to look closely at what you need to do to cash them in.
Why it's smart to cash in Series E war savings bonds
U.S. savings bonds are designed to pay interest for only a set period. In the case of Series E bonds, the Treasury initially set a period of 10 years during which the bonds would rise in value. Later on, lawmakers extended the period during which E bonds would bear interest to 30 to 40 years, depending on the issue date of the bond. The last Series E bonds were sold to investors in 1980, and now, there are no E bonds that currently bear interest. Because of this, the Treasury has recommended that all E bonds should be redeemed.
How to get the bonds cashed in
Bondholders have two options for cashing in paper Series E bonds. You can visit certain local financial institutions that are authorized to handle savings bond transactions. Alternatively, you can mail them to the Treasury Retail Securities Site. Contact information is available at the TreasuryDirect website.
In order to redeem bonds, the most important requirement is to establish your identity. If you're a customer of your local financial institution, then its policies might make identification trivial. Other institutions sometimes limit the amount that non-customers can redeem.
If you mail in your bonds, you'll still need to prove your identification. A certifying officer at your local bank can certify your signature on the back of each bond. You'll need to include your Social Security number in the mailing in order to comply with the tax requirements for redemption, and the owner of the bond will have to pay taxes as appropriate on the interest that the savings bonds generated during the time the owner held them.
War savings bonds helped the U.S. win World War II, but holding onto them at this point doesn't earn you any extra money. Cashing them in is fairly easy and can unlock the full value that the bonds have accumulated over the years.
This article is part of The Motley Fool's Knowledge Center, which was created based on the collected wisdom of a fantastic community of investors. We'd love to hear your questions, thoughts, and opinions on the Knowledge Center in general or this page in particular. Your input will help us help the world invest, better! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks -- and Fool on!
Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.