Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Paper Box Couture

Treasury eliminating paper savings bonds

Starting in January, you will no longer be able to go to your bank and buy savings bonds. Get ready to hear lots of complaints from unhappy senior citizens, who are especially fond of buying the bonds as gifts for their grandchildren.

The Bureau of the Public Debt, the arm of the United States Treasury that oversees the sale and redemption of bonds and other government securities, is scrapping paper savings bonds. You'll still be able to buy them in an electronic version, as you can now, via the bureau's Web-based TreasuryDirect purchasing system. But you won't get an actual paper bond, suitable for tucking inside a birthday card. You can, however, download a "gift certificate" from the TreasuryDirect Web site, indicating the amount of the bond you have purchased, and for what occasion.

The move doesn't affect existing savings bonds; you can still redeem paper bonds at a bank.

The change is part of a broader Treasury initiative to cut costs by shifting operations to the Internet.

Eliminating paper savings bonds does away with the need to keep track of those pieces of paper, and allows for automatic redemption when they mature — no more matured bonds sitting around in boxes, earning nothing. But it requires buyers, many of them older and not inclined to use a computer, to set up an online account to buy bonds for themselves, or as gifts for children and grandchildren. That is likely to annoy some people, conceded Mckayla Braden, a spokeswoman for the bureau. "You can't deliver the actual bond."

Once purchased electronically, the bonds are held in an online "gift box," because they can't be given to the recipient until he or she is 18 and has an online account, Braden said. Or, if the child's parents have a TreasuryDirect account, they can establish a linked custodial account in the child's name to hold the bonds. The link can be severed, and a standalone account created, when the recipient turns 18.
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