How Can I Sell I Bonds?

You can sell I Bonds after 12 months through the TreasuryDirect website, your bank or by mail.

Written by Dori Zinn / May 30, 2022
Reviewed by Dori Zinn

Quick Bites

  • You can sell back your I Bonds through the federal government’s TreasuryDirect site or by snail mail via its Treasury Retail Securities Services.
  • You can also try cashing in your bonds through your local bank, although not all institutions offer the service.

I Bonds are all the rage, thanks to their inflation-linked rates as we watch our energy and grocery bills tick ever higher. Want to buy I Bonds? Check out our I Bonds story. Want to know how and when to sell? You’ve come to the right place.

Inside this article

  1. How do I sell I bonds?
  2. When can I cash them in?
  3. How can I check their value?
  4. How much can I cash at one time?
  5. Will I get a form for taxes?
  6. Cashed this before?

How do I sell I bonds?

You can only buy I Bonds from the U.S. government, and similarly, you can only sell to the U.S. government.

“You can only buy and sell your I Bond online through the TreasuryDirect website,” says Kevin Matthews, author and founder of BuildingBread, a finance website geared toward Millennials.

Use FS Form 1522 to cash out via TreasuryDirect. Just log onto your account, select “ManageDirect” and use the link for cashing securities. You’ll need to include details like the issue date and the serial number of each bond. The Treasury deposits the cash into your savings or checking account in a few days.

For paper bonds, you can try your local bank, though note that not all will redeem bonds.

Or, send them to Treasury Retail Securities Services along with that same FS Form 1522, which you can download or order. You don't need to sign the bonds. You will have to validate your identity. FS Form 1522 explains how and also provides the address to send the bonds to.[1]

When can I cash them in?

You can cash in your I Bonds after at least one year of ownership. They mature at 30 years. If you decide to cash them out after less than five years of ownership, you lose out on the last three months of interest.

If you can hold onto them for a while, you’ll maximize your return.

How do I check what they are worth?

You can check your electronic holdings through TreasuryDirect by looking at the “current holdings” tab in your account. If you have paper bonds, you can use the savings bond calculator.

How much can I cash at one time?

If you’re ready to cash in on your I Bonds, you can get it all in one lump sum pretty quickly through the TreasuryDirect website.

“Investors receive a lump-sum payment that includes all of your interest and principal,” says Akeiva Ellis, Certified Financial Planner and founder of her website, The Bemused. “You can also do a partial redemption of your electronic bonds, with a minimum of $25. You must leave at least $25 in your TreasuryDirect account if you cash only a part of the bond's value. Principal and a proportionate amount of interest are included in redemptions.”

For paper bonds, if your local bank does take redemptions, they might have restrictions on how much you can cash in during one transaction. You can’t do a partial redemption on paper bonds, Ellis says. This means you’ll need to cash in your paper bonds in full. If you can’t find a spot locally, you can contact Treasury Retail Services and fill out FS Form 1522.

No matter where you cash in the I Bonds, you’ll need to provide proof of ownership or co-ownership. If you aren’t an owner, you’ll need to provide proof that you’re entitled to cash the bond. Keep in mind that the Treasury Department doesn’t return legal evidence, so whatever you submit won’t come back to you.

Will I get a form for filing taxes?

When you cash out your bonds, you’ll get an IRS Form 1099-INT. For electronic bonds, these are posted every January, giving you the chance to file your taxes well before Tax Day in April. You can find it through the TreasuryDirect website on the ManageDirect page.

If you cash out your paper I Bonds at a bank, the bank will provide the 1099-INT form. When you get the form is up to the bank. They might provide it right away or send it to you at the end of the year. If you contacted Treasury Retail Securities Services, you’ll get the form mailed to you in January of the following year.

How can I check if I have cashed an I Bond already?

You can contact your local bank to see if your I Bonds are eligible for redemption or if they’ve already been redeemed. Banks can’t always help but they can be your first stop.

If banks can’t help, reach out to Treasury Retail Securities Services. You’ll need to include the serial number of the bond along with your written request. This is only good for owners or co-owners. If both of those people have died, you’ll need to send in copies of those death certificates with your written request to:

Treasury Retail Securities Services

PO Box 9150

Minneapolis, MN 55480-9150

You’ll also need proof that you’re eligible to cash in the I Bonds that you’re requesting redemption for. There are billions of dollars worth of unclaimed savings bonds that have stopped earning interest but haven’t been cashed in yet.[2]

Article Sources
  1. “Cashing (Redeeming) Series I Savings Bonds.” TreasuryDirect. https://www.treasurydirect.gov/indiv/research/indepth/ibonds/res_ibonds_iredeem.htm
  2. Matured, Unredeemed Debt and Unclaimed Moneys Reports, Statistical report of matured, unredeemed savings bonds and notes. TreasuryDirect. https://www.treasurydirect.gov/foia/foia_mud.htm

About the Authors

Dori Zinn

Dori Zinn

Dori has covered personal finance for more than a decade. My work has appeared in the New York Times, Forbes, CNET, TIME, Yahoo, and others.

Full bio
Dori Zinn

Dori Zinn

Dori has covered personal finance for more than a decade. My work has appeared in the New York Times, Forbes, CNET, TIME, Yahoo, and others.

Full bio

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