Bearer bonds used to be a popular investment alternative. Unlike other bonds, bearer bonds are not registered to a particular owner, so the assumption is the person owning, or bearing, the bonds is the purchaser of the bonds and entitled to interest payments, also called coupons, or the full value of the investment upon cashing it in. Bearer bonds are difficult to track, so the United States outlawed the selling of bearer bonds in 1982. This has made it more difficult to cash in your bearer bonds.
Locate a Massachusetts bank that will cash in bearer bonds and/or pay the biannual interest dividends one is entitled to with a bearer bond, if possible. This is becoming a challenge, as many banks no longer accept bearer bonds. Other banks have transitioned to a mail-in processing center for clients to receive their interest payments or cash in bonds early. Larger banks, with multiple national and international locations, are more likely to still deal with bearer bonds.
Call the bank you plan to use for the transaction ahead of time. Banks dealing with bearer bonds often require an appointment or might have special days set aside to deal with the process. Determine if you need any other documentation besides the original bond. You will probably need to fill out a Form W-9, unless there is already one on file with the bank. The bank should provide the form. You must have a valid Social Security Number or Taxpayer Identification Number for the W-9.
Mail in everything requested if you are using a processing center. For example, U.S. Bank still cashes bearer bonds and makes interest payments, but only through their processing center, based in Ohio. U.S. Bank requires customers send a complete signed and dated Form W-9, the original bond and a letter of instruction detailing to whom the payment should be made. Send your information via registered or certified mail for added security.
Consider converting your bearer bonds into easier investment instruments, such as savings bonds, to avoid future difficulties obtaining interest payments or cashing in bearer bonds.
- J.P. Morgan Chase is one of the few remaining banks that cash bearer bonds in person, but only in select locations, like the J. P. Morgan Chase Bank Investor Services Receiving Window in New York City.
- Redeem any current or previous interest "coupons" before selling your bond if you are cashing it in before its maturity date. Once you have cashed in the bearer bond early, you will no longer be entitled to those interest payments.
Items you will need
- Original bond
- Form W-9
- Instruction letter
- Valid Social Security Number or Taxpayer Identification Number