September 29, 2023
Investing in US Treasury bills can provide a low-risk way to earn guaranteed returns while supporting government financing needs. But how exactly can you buy Treasury bills and incorporate them into your investment portfolio? This guide will explain everything you need to know, from defining Treasury bills to outlining step-by-step instructions for purchasing them. Read on to learn how to tap into the benefits of investing in Treasury bills.
US Treasury bills, commonly known as T-bills, are short-term government debt securities with maturities of one year or less. T-bills are issued regularly by the US Department of the Treasury as a means of financing government operations and managing short-term cash needs. The money invested in T-bills is essentially a loan to the government that provides a safe, predictable return.
Investing in T-bills offers many advantages: they carry no risk of default, provide a fixed rate of return, can easily be bought and sold on the secondary market, and generate tax-advantaged income. With interest rates on savings accounts near 0%, many savvy investors are turning to T-bills as a principal-protected way to earn modest returns. This guide will walk through everything you need to know to start investing in T-bills yourself.
US Treasury bills, or T-bills for short, are short-term bonds issued by the US Department of the Treasury to finance government spending. T-bills are considered one of the safest investments available since they are backed by the full faith and credit of the US government and thus have virtually no risk of default.
The Treasury issues T-bills in maturities of 4, 8, 13, 26, and 52 weeks. T-bills do not pay periodic interest payments; instead, they are issued at a discount to face value which represents the interest earned on the bill when it matures.
For example, you might pay $970 to purchase a $1,000 bill. When the bill matures in 26 weeks, you would be repaid the full $1,000 face value - representing a $30 interest profit on your investment. T-bills auction weekly, so there is constant availability.
The Treasury has issued T-bills since 1929 to raise funding needed for government operations like infrastructure projects, social services, national defense, and more. Individual and institutional investors alike invest in T-bills as a liquid cash equivalent that provides principal protection and modest returns.
There are many good reasons to consider investing in US Treasury bills:
Adding T-bills to a portfolio provides stability and diversification. They can balance out riskier equities or long-term bonds. Even multi-million dollar institutional investment funds own T-bills.
There are a few easy methods for an individual investor to purchase T-bills:
To purchase T-bills directly or through a bank, you will need:
Europeans can also invest in US Treasury bills, despite not being American residents. The process involves a few extra steps. First, you must establish a US bank account with a financial institution that allows foreign account holders, such as HSBC. This will provide an account and routing number to link to your TreasuryDirect purchase account. Next, fund the US bank account through a wire transfer from your local bank. Now you have access to dollars required for T-bill purchases. The T-bills are held electronically, so there are no cross-border delivery complications. The main challenges are the account setup and funding transfer, but this allows access to purchase US T-bills even as a European investor. Consult your financial and tax advisors to ensure compliance with regulations.
Instead you can open an account at Lympid which takes only a few minutes.
Deposit EUR in a dedicated IBAN account, choose to invest in US T-Bills product which is generating 4.5% APY and invest your money with ease. Interests are paid each 3 months and you can compound them and reinvest it, all without leaving the platform.
The US Treasury sells new T-bills every week via a competitive auction process. There are regular 4-week, 8-week, 13-week, 26-week, and 52-week T-bill auctions. $7 billion to $50 billion worth of new T-bills are auctioned each week.
In the auctions, participants bid on the interest rate they want on the T-bills. The lowest interest rate bid wins. Winners pay below face value for the bills.
There are two types of bids allowed:
Non-competitive bids are capped at $5 million worth of T-bills per auction. This method makes participating in the auctions easy for smaller investors.
The interest earned on US Treasury bills is exempt from state and local income taxes. However, you must pay federal income tax on the interest in the year it is earned.
When you buy a T-bill at auction, interest accrues each day based on the purchase price. For a $1,000 bill purchased for $970, the $30 interest accrues incrementally each day. You must report that accumulating interest annually, even though the bill hasn’t matured.
Holding T-bills in a tax-advantaged retirement account like an IRA avoids the annual federal tax. Consult a tax advisor to fully understand tax obligations.
For Europeans, it will depend on the country you are in, so, make sure to get to know your local tax laws.
While very safe, investing in T-bills does come with a few risks and considerations:
Here are some tips for effectively incorporating T-bills into your broader investment strategy:
Keeping these best practices in mind will allow you to maximize the advantages of T-bills while minimizing risk.
Investing in US Treasury bills offers a low-risk way to earn guaranteed returns on your money while supporting US government financing needs. The safety, liquidity, and tax advantages of T-bills make them an attractive component of a diversified investment portfolio. Now that you understand the features and benefits of T-bills, you can start investing by opening a Lympid account.
The interest rate can only be determined once competitive bidding closes. Non-competitive bidders receive the average winning competitive rate.
You can easily sell T-bills on the secondary market prior to maturity through TreasuryDirect or a broker. The value adjusts with prevailing interest rates.
It is possible but highly unlikely. If you paid a premium above par value, you may lose that premium if trying to sell before maturity.
TreasuryDirect charges no fees. Brokers typically charge a small per-transaction fee. Banks may also charge nominal fees.
T-bills are redeemed on the maturity date. Funds are available in your bank account on the next business day.
With Lympid you will have the money at maturity.
Yes, T-bills offer a safe way to earn a guaranteed, modest return on your money.
Yes, anyone can set up a TreasuryDirect account and buy T-bills directly at auction or on the secondary market.
If you are in Europe things are more complicated, but with Lympid is an easy process.
The annual return on 1-year T-bills varies based on prevailing interest rates but tends to be low, around 1-3% currently.
Yes, foreign investors can purchase T-bills by setting up a US bank account and funding it through international wire transfer.
Or, opening an account with Lympid and funding it with EUR.
Open a US bank account that allows foreign account holders, transfer funds to it, and use it to buy T-bills through TreasuryDirect.
Instead, use Lympid and open an account in just a few minutes.