If you have recently located old savings bonds while working on spring cleaning or sorting through desk drawers, you are in luck. These common, though at times underappreciated, gifts can feel like free money years or decades later. They are securities issued by the U.S. Treasury Department that pay and retain serious interest in exchange for helping fund the government. The government has been issuing them since 1935 in increments starting at $25. Once you discover what type of bond you have and how much it is worth, check out some ways to use savings bonds below.
Cash In When Fully Mature
Savings bonds accumulate more interest the longer you wait, so if you don’t need the money now, it’s a good idea to keep them in a safe place until they fully mature. If yours have already reached their height in value, hit the bank! Once the bonds have reached maturity, they won’t gain in value anymore. So waiting to cash them in only means you are missing out on putting the money to use for you.
Convert to Electronic Bonds
Paper bonds are no longer available for purchase, but if you have some old ones, you can convert them to electronic bonds with the help of the Treasury website. This will make it easier to track the value of your bonds and manage them online.
Put It to Use
And if you do have debt to repay, you can make a big dent into it and help your credit too (especially if your credit cards are maxed out). You can see how your debt is impacting your credit scores for free on Credit.com.
Convert to TIPS
The U.S. Treasury now offers Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS) that keep pace with inflation. Unlike traditional savings bonds, their value will adjust so it is not negatively affected over time. If you are looking to purchase a new savings bond for yourself or as a gift, it is a good idea to look into this option.
If you are interested in finding out the face value of your bonds or want to find out if you were ever the beneficiary of a bond you don’t know about, you can check the Treasury website’s tools. Visit the websites of or call any banks you use to see if they can process bonds. No matter which way you choose to tap their value, savings bonds can help you reach your financial goals.
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This article originally appeared on Credit.com.