2019: Firstrade U.S. Treasury t-bonds, t-bills, tips, frn and t-notes trading - 1 year, 5 years, 10 years maturity, minimums and commission rates.


How to Buy and Sell U.S. Treasuries at Firstrade

If you want to invest in U.S. Treasury bonds, Firstrade is a brokerage firm you really need to take a look at. The company offers search tools that can find sovereign debt; and it has an educational section as well. Here’s a quick guide on how to go from start to finish:


Step 1: Learn About Fixed-Income Basics

Before you place a bond trade, you need to fully understand characteristics of fixed-income investments. Firstrade’s educational center can be located (conveniently enough) by clicking on ‘Education’ in the top menu. A sub-menu will appear with several choices, one of which is fixed income.

Unfortunately, the bond section only has one article. There is a small amount of information devoted to Treasury debt. Perhaps a more helpful resource is the broker’s glossary (also found in the sub-menu). Many bond terms can be found in the rather lengthy list. We discovered accrued interest, TIPS, and T-Bills.


Step 2: Do a Search for Treasury Securities

When you’re comfortable with your knowledge of fixed-income basics, it’s time to start looking at actually buying something. To find Firstrade’s bond search tool, you need to click on ‘Trading’ in the top menu and then select ‘Fixed Income.’


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Below this sub-menu appear several bond search tools. The first page is a collection of bond types with maturity dates. This isn’t quite a yield grid (which is available at many other brokerage firms), but it nevertheless displays links to different types of bonds organized by maturity dates. For Treasuries, there are bonds with maturity dates from a few months to 30 years.

Clicking on a link produces a new page with several rows of available Treasury bonds. Information in the table includes coupon rate, maturity date, current price, and minimum order number. Some Treasury bonds have a minimum order of 250, while others are as low as 1.

Clicking on a bond’s title in these results generates a new page with more information. We found accrued interest, the settlement date, the call schedule, and the coupon payment months. There’s also an integrated calculator that will adjust the total trade values by changing the quantity.


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Step 3: Use Firstrade’s Other Bond Tools

Next to the Buy/Search function, there’s a button to request a bid. This is useful if you want to sell one of your Treasury bonds, but can’t find an immediate bid for your specific bond. You simply enter the CUSIP number (found on the bond’s profile page), the number of securities, and the time the request expires.

Also in the sub-menu is a New Issues tab. This will display any bonds being sold on the primary market.

The broker’s bond search engine is also located in this sub-menu. Click on the Buy/Search button, and select either Treasury or STRIPS & Zeros. Some of the available search variables include yield, coupon months, and price.

One final tool here is the bond calculator. Inputting various issues such as coupon rate and maturity date will produce information about principal, accrued interest, convexity, duration, and more. All of the important information can be pre-filled if you copy and paste the CUSIP number.


Step 4: Place a Treasury Trade

When you decide on a specific government bond, it’s time to submit an order for it. The best way to go about this is to click on a bond’s title in the search results. This generates a new page with more detailed information and an order quantity box. Fill this out with the number you want to buy (being sure to enter at least the order minimum) and click on the Preview button.

When you do this, you’ll be taken to the final trade page, which displays the last details. These include the settlement date, a disclaimer about bond trades, and the estimated accrued interest.


Step 5: Don’t Forget About Treasury Bond ETF’s and Mutual Funds at Firstrade

If you don’t have any luck in your own Treasury bond search, you could alternatively invest in a Treasury fund available through Firstrade. As an example, GOVT, the iShares U.S. Treasury Bond ETF, is available through Firstrade with zero trading fees. More than 97% of the fund’s portfolio is invested in U.S. government bonds.


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