The U.S. Treasury stopped selling savings bonds over-the-counter in financial institutions at the end of 2011. Savings bonds can only be purchased in electronic form through the Treasury's website. The program that allowed savings bond purchases by credit card was terminated in 2003. As of the time of publication, the current purchase method allows you to buy bonds electronically through your bank account.
Credit Card Bond Program
The U.S. Treasury program that allowed you to buy savings bonds and pay with a credit card was called Savings Bonds Direct. The Treasury discontinued this program on the last day of 2003. After that date, paper savings bonds could be purchased with either cash or a check, as long as the paper bonds continued to be issued, but not with a credit card.
Since January 1, 2012, savings bonds have been sold only in electronic form, and can be purchased only through an account set up on the TreasuryDirect.gov website. A TreasuryDirect account must be linked to a bank checking or savings account, and that account will be the source for money used to buy any savings bonds you want to purchase. Linking savings bond purchases to a bank account eliminates the need -- or possibility -- to pay cash, write a check, or use a credit card to buy bonds.
Bonds as Gifts
You can also purchase savings bonds using your personal TreasuryDirect account and give them as gifts. When you buy a bond, you designate it as a gift with the name and Social Security number of the recipient. The purchase cost comes out of your linked bank account. The person receiving the gift must have or open a TreasuryDirect account to receive the gift. Minors can have TreasuryDirect accounts linked to a parent's account.
Savings Bond Features
Two types of savings bonds are available. Series EE bonds pay a fixed rate of interest for the life of the bond and are guaranteed to at least double in value in 20 years. Series I bonds earn interest based on the rate of inflation. The Treasury adjusts the I bond earnings rate twice a year. Either type of bond can be purchased in any dollar amount of $25 or more, with an annual purchase limit of $10,000 for each bond type.
Tim Plaehn has been writing financial, investment and trading articles and blogs since 2007. His work has appeared online at Seeking Alpha, Marketwatch.com and various other websites. Plaehn has a bachelor's degree in mathematics from the U.S. Air Force Academy.