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Updated on Friday, February 15, 2019
Savings bonds are intrinsically tied to American ideals, serving as a way for American citizens to grow and save their money while supporting the country.
They were originally conceived by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to help finance World War II. The Patriot Bond was created after the devastating attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
What is a Patriot Bond?
A Patriot Bond is a special paper Series EE savings bond created in direct response to the terrorist attacks of September 11. Sold from December 2001 through December 2011, the bond provided a tangible way for Americans to support the country’s reaction to the attacks, as proceeds from the bonds went to an anti-terrorism government fund. A Patriot Bond can be identified by the words “Patriot Bond” printed at the top, in between the owner’s Social Security number and the date the bond was issued.
While the bond may have a unique name, it functions like a standard EE paper savings bond. The bond could be purchased for between $25 and $10,000. It was government-backed, making it a low-risk option for Americans to grow their money.
Each bond was assigned a fixed interest rate that guaranteed the bond would grow in value over time. And just like Series EE savings bonds today, Patriot Bonds could be purchased for a variety of uses, such as saving for retirement, growing a college fund or simply to give as a gift. The Patriot Bond was discontinued in 2012 when the Treasury switched to electronic bonds.
Can I redeem a Patriot Bond if I have one today?
The short answer is yes. While EE bonds typically cannot be redeemed until after 12 months has passed from the date of purchase, the last Patriot Bond was printed well beyond that time frame, making it eligible for redemption. But there are some things to consider before heading to your bank to redeem it.
Ken Tumin, founder of DepositAccounts — which, like MagnifyMoney, is owned by LendingTree — said there are a few conditions you need be aware of before redeeming. Patriot Bonds mature in the same fashion as an EE savings bond, which means they earn interest every year for 30 years. So the longer you have the bond, the more it will be worth. Once the bond hits the 30-year mark, the bond stops accruing interest and reaches maturity, making it the perfect time to redeem.
Tumin said Patriot Bonds, as well as all Series EE bonds, are guaranteed to double in value after 20 years, but you might not need to wait so long. “If someone got a Patriot Bond in 2002, interest rates were much higher back then, so [the bond] could have doubled already,” he said.
If your bond has not yet fully matured, it may be in your best interest to convert it to an electronic bond, which will be helpful if you lose or damage a paper one. TreasuryDirect.gov — part of the U.S. Department of the Treasury Bureau of the Fiscal Service — has a feature called SmartExchange that can convert your paper bonds into electronic bonds. Electronic bonds are much more efficient when compared to paper bonds. They can be redeemed anytime through the Treasury’s website, as well as transferred easily to another owner.
How do I redeem my bond, and can I take it all?
If you are interested in redeeming your Patriot Bond, you can head to almost any bank to exchange it for cash. In general, paper bonds come with no limitations on how much of the bond’s value you can redeem at once, but some banks may have their own restrictions.
A Patriot Bond can also be redeemed through the Treasury Retail Securities Services. To redeem this way, you must have a certifying officer from a local bank certify your signature on the back of the bond. Once certified, you must then mail the bonds, your Social Security number and the Treasury’s direct deposit form to Treasury Retail Securities Services.
I have a Series I savings bond. Do I cash this in differently?
While Patriot Bonds were printed as Series EE savings bonds, you may be in the possession of a Series I bond. The value of a Series I bond is determined differently since part of the bond’s interest rate is based on inflation (thus the “I” in the name).
Tumin said the bond is first assigned a fixed interest rate that stays with the bond over its lifetime. Then, the bond is given an inflation rate. The inflation rate changes every six months in accordance with the inflation rate, which the Treasury announces on the first business day every May and November. The fixed rate and inflation rates are combined when determining the overall value of the bond.
Just like the EE bonds, an I bond can be cashed 12 months after the date of purchase. The bond also reaches full value maturity after 30 years.
How can I find out how much my Patriot Bond is worth?
Determining the worth of your Patriot Bond is pretty easy.
TreasuryDirect has a simple calculator you can use to find out the value of the bond. You can also use the calendar to see the expected value of the bond in the years to come, which will help determine when you would like to redeem the bond.