Savings bonds are short-term loans to the government. You purchase the bond for a certain price, and then it earns interest for several years. When you redeem the bond, you receive its face value plus the interest it has accrued. You can cash your savings bond at any bank; however, in most cases, you cannot redeem bonds for more than $1,000 at a time because of regulations regarding identification.
Up to $1,000
The Department of the Treasury's guide to cashing savings bonds states that bank employees may accept identification from the bondholder only if a savings bond or series of savings bonds is less than $1,000. Thus, investors can cash up to $1,000 worth of savings bonds at a time. There are no limitations on how many times per day a customer may visit a bank to cash savings bonds.
Minimum Retention Period
Customers must hold onto their savings bonds for the minimum retention period for the particular series of bonds. If a customer attempts to cash a savings bond that was issued more recently than its minimum retention period, the bank cannot cash the bond, regardless of how much the bond is worth. If the bond was issued after February 2003, customers cannot redeem it for at least 12 months. Older bonds had a retention period of six months.
If you are a regular customer of the bank where you cash your savings bonds, you can still cash them even if they are worth more than $1,000. Instead of asking for identification, the bank official can compare the signature on your bonds to the signature on your bank account. However, if the official asks you for identification, you cannot cash bonds that are worth more than $1,000 even if you are a regular customer at the bank.
If a customer is not the person to whom the bond was issued, the customer may still be able to cash the bond if it is under $1,000 and she has appropriate identification. Beneficiaries and attorneys may cash bonds originally belonging to a deceased person if they have a copy of the death certificate. Parents of minor children may cash bonds for their children. However, if the child is old enough to understand the process, the child must sign the bonds to cash them.
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images