I’ve got some U.S. Savings Bonds from back when you could buy them with no fees with a credit card and earn cash-back rewards. Unfortunately that ended in 2003. But I still have these paper bonds worth over $5,000, just asking to be misplaced or stolen. And the Treasury has been teasing me with this page about their SmartExchange program to convert these bonds to online electronic format. It’s invitation only, and I’ve been waiting for one for almost a year now. Finally I found out how to get an invitation – just ask! (Seems like a recurring theme now)
Benefits of Electronic Bonds include:
» Cash them in online, instead of having to go to a bank
» Track their current value online
» You don’t have to worry about losing them
» You can make transfers online
Here’s how to convert your bonds:
1) Open a Treasury Direct account. It’s like an online account that ‘holds’ your Savings Bonds.
2) Log into your account, and click on the ‘Contact Us’ link on the top right corner. Ask them for an invitation to convert your paper bonds to electronic bonds.
3) Wait for them to reply, they should send you confirmation that they have opened up a separate account number (same login) to hold your converted bonds, and directions on conversion.
4) Follow their directions carefully. They are long, but surprisingly accurate if you read slowly and don’t try to skip steps like I did. In the end you’ll mail them a form with a list of your Savings Bonds, and the actual physical paper bonds. They don’t mention this, but first I’d make a copy of your bonds for your records.
5) I’m at this step, I’m mailing them out tomorrow. The site says that within 3 weeks they should show up online. The whole process is free except for the postage to send them in. I’ll update again when they show up.