3 Reasons to Buy T-Bills Yourself and Not Through Your Bank

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KEY POINTS

  • Treasury bills (T-bills) are short-term securities with maturities ranging from four weeks to 52 weeks.
  • By buying directly from the U.S. Treasury, you can avoid paying any extra fees or commissions to your bank.
  • The U.S. Treasury has a $100 minimum to purchase a T-Bill, which is a lower minimum than many banks.

You don't need a bank to invest in T-bills.

Treasury bills, or T-bills, are a popular investment option for both individuals and corporations. They are low-risk, highly liquid investments that can offer investors a steady stream of income. Banks often also sell T-bills to their customers, but there are several advantages to buying them directly from the U.S. Treasury yourself. Let's learn more about T-bills and how they work.

What are Treasury bills?

The U.S. Government offers investors five types of Treasury securities: Treasury Bills, Treasury Notes, Treasury Bonds, Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS), and Floating Rate Notes (FRNs). These are considered to be very safe investments since they are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, making them a popular choice among investors who want to maximize their return while minimizing risk. Let's look at the details of each.

  • Treasury bills are short-term securities with maturities ranging from four weeks to 52 weeks. They are issued at a discount and redeemed for the face value at maturity. In other words, when you buy a T-bill, you pay less than its face value. When it matures, you receive the full face amount.
  • Treasury bonds (T-bonds) are long-term securities with maturities of 20 or 30 years. They pay interest semiannually, and the principal is repaid at maturity.
  • Treasury notes (T-notes) are intermediate term securities that have maturities of two to 10 years. They also pay interest semiannually, and the principal is repaid at maturity.
  • Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS) help protect against inflation, and the principal of a TIPS can go up with inflation or go down with deflation.
  • Floating Rate Notes (FRNs) are short-term investments that pay interest every quarter and mature in two years.

Each type of security can be bought and sold in the secondary market from a stock broker, making them highly liquid investments. They also offer investors a variety of different maturities, so it is possible to find one that meets your investment goals and timeline. Here are some of the benefits you get when you buy T-bills directly from the U.S. Treasury.

1. Lower fees and expenses

When you buy T-bills through your bank, it may charge you additional fees and expenses such as sales commissions or transaction charges. These extra costs can add up over time and eat into your returns on your investment. Buying directly from the U.S. Treasury eliminates these extra charges so you get more of your money back in interest payments each month or quarter.

2. Get the amount you want

There are two ways to buy T-bills: bidding non-competitively and bidding competitively. When bidding non-competitively through TreasuryDirect.gov, you accept the interest rate determined at auction and are guaranteed to get the security you want in the amount you want. To bid competitively, you must work through a bank, brokerage firm, or dealer. When you bid competitively, you choose the interest rate that you want. However, based on the results of the auction, you may not get the T-bill. If you do get it, it may be less than the amount you want. For example, if the rate set at auction is 1.5% but you bid 1.75%, your bid will be rejected.

3. Lower minimums

Some banks may have a higher minimum amount to purchase T-bills. For example, Fidelity, like many other banks and brokerage firms, has a minimum of $1,000. The minimum purchase for purchasing T-bills yourself is $100.

Investing in treasury bills is an attractive way for investors to earn a steady stream of income without taking on too much risk in their portfolios, but it's important to make sure that you're getting the best deal possible when investing in these government securities. For those looking for maximum returns with minimal effort, buying treasury bills directly from the U.S. Treasury has some advantages over going through a bank or other intermediary.

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