T-Bills vs T-Notes vs T-Bonds

Sometimes I see the wrong terms being used on TV, in print and online. Most of the time the errors are harmless, like with naming imprecision of US government debt instruments. So I point out the following merely for your information, but it’s not going to change anyone’s lives by any means… Besides, I’m sure I’ve been guilty of being sloppy from time to time. In any case:

US Treasury Bills – Have maturities equal to or less than 1 year at time of issue.

US Treasury Notes – Maturities (at issue) of 2, 3, 5 or 10 years.

US Treasury Bonds – Maturity at issue of 30 years.

T-bills are like zero-coupon bonds in that you don’t receive an interest payment. T-notes and T-bonds pay interest every 6 months.

In Canada, we have t-bills and treasury bonds (fixed rate marketable bonds, real return bonds, Canada Saving Bonds and Canada Premium Bonds). We also have “Canada Bills” and “Canada Notes” – both denominated in US dollars with Bills having maturities of 270 days or less, while Notes have maturities longer than 270 days (9 months). Note (no pun intended) that these bills and notes are used for forex reserve funding only.

According to G.I. Joe, knowing is half the battle. (And according to the internet the other half is an equal distribution of red lasers and blue lasers in case you were always wondering.)

Preet Banerjee
Preet Banerjee
...is an independent consultant to the financial services industry and a personal finance commentator. You can learn more about Preet at his personal website and you can click here to follow him on Twitter.
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