Treasury Bill

Financial Dictionary -> Investing -> Treasury Bill

What is a Treasury Bill?

Purchasing a Treasury bill is one of the safest ways to invest and secure your money. Treasury bills (T-Bills) are short-term debt obligations, with maturity periods up to a year, issued by both the U.S. and Canadian governments. You don't actually receive a paper issued Treasury bill upon purchasing one. The purchase price is typically deducted from an online account, with the rate of return or interest for your investment, paid directly into your account upon maturity. Treasury bills are fully backed by the issuing U.S. and Canadian governments, and are extremely, liquid, making these attractive to both individual and corporate investors seeking a safe haven for their cash.

How to Buy a Treasury Bill

T-bills can be purchased at auction in the United States, on Tuesdays before 12:00 PM, EST. They are available in increments as low as $100.00, with 13, 26 and 52-week maturities. An investor can purchase T-bills by opening up an online account directly with the U.S. Federal Reserve, or purchase them from a investment or broker. U.S. treasury bills don't earn interest, but instead are sold at a small discount of their face value. The difference between the discounted purchase price and face value is paid at maturity.

Canadian treasury bills are quite different. They are sold at their full face value at any time, from any bank or brokerage, but do earn interest when they are held to maturity. The interest earned by Canadian T-bills often rewards an investor with higher returns than other investments, with the added advantage of being fully guaranteed by the Canadian government. They require a minimum investment amount of $5,000 in U.S. or Canadian dollars, with similar maturity rates to the United States. They are highly, liquid and can be sold at any time.

Advantages of Treasury Bills

T-bills remain one of the safest investments for U.S. and Canadian dollars. The advantage of purchasing these short term, liquid instruments, is access to your funds at any time, with the peace of mind knowing that your funds will not be tied up in long term investments, should an emergency arise. T-bills can be held to maturity, with constant roll over into other T-bill purchases, or can be sold at any time an investor chooses.