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


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

If you’re thinking about buying and selling U.S. government bonds, there are several brokerage houses that offer them. Vanguard is one such broker. We’ve done all the research for you. Just follow these instructions and you’ll be ready:


Step 1: Study Bond Information

If you’re going to plough large amounts of money into an asset class, you should first educate yourself about the investment characteristics the securities have. On Vanguard’s website, we found articles on many bond topics, such as agency bonds, the taxability of fixed-income securities, and bond quality and ratings. We also found one slideshow on Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities. A very useful Treasury auction calendar is also posted on Vanguard’s site.

You can find Vanguard’s bond education by pointing your cursor to ‘Investing’ in the top menu and selecting ‘Bonds & CDs’ underneath ‘Investment Products.’


Step 2: Search for Available Treasury Bonds

Once you have reached a minimum level of knowledge, it’s time to actually start looking for bonds to buy. To do this, you’ll need to open Vanguard’s bond screener. It’s a little difficult to find. Navigate to Investing > Investment Products > CDs & Bonds. On this page, there is a link entitled ‘Find CDs and bonds.’ Click on this link and you’ll get a yield grid of many fixed-income securities.


Vanguard Buying Treasury


The yield grid is organized by maturity dates running horizontally and bond types running vertically. We found corporate bonds, agencies, munis, and Treasuries. Each maturity date has a corresponding yield, and it’s hyperlinked.

If you click on the hyperlinked yield, you’ll get a selection of Treasury bonds that match the maturity and yield parameters. For 10-year bonds, we got 17 results. The results include some important information, such as CUSIP number, the quantity available, the minimum order size, the coupon rate, the yield to worst, and the yield to maturity.

Underneath the CUSIP number, if you click on ‘Show more’ you’ll get the depth of book on the specific bond. This information includes the bid and ask sizes and prices coming in for the specific bond, along with yields.


Step 3: Scan for Individual Bonds Meeting Specific Parameters

Besides the yield grid, Vanguard also offers a Treasury search engine. It only has a few search criteria (such as maturity, yield, and primary or secondary market), but it is there. The best part of the scanner is that it is able to look by Treasury type, such as STRIPS and TIPS. Results will be displayed in the same format as the results from the yield grid.


Step 4: Pick a Bond

Within the results, clicking on a bond’s title produces a new page with more detailed information. This includes less used information, such as number of bonds in the series that were issued and the number of outstanding bonds. In one zero-coupon bond we clicked on, there was $26 billion raised in the bond sale. Other pieces of information include convexity and modified duration.

On this page, there’s also a link to a bond calculator. When you click on the link from a bond profile page, Vanguard’s software will automatically populate the calculator with vital information, such as yield to maturity and market price. You just need to fill in the quantity and click ‘calculate.’ The tool will calculate principal and accrued interest.


Step 5: Submit an Order

On the calculator page and in the search results, there is a buy link. Clicking on this produces Vanguard’s fixed-income order form. The broker-dealer doesn’t charge trading fees on Treasury transactions, but there may be a markdown or markup in the price.

You’ll need to click on a box stating that you understand the risks of bond trading. You’ll also need to enter the quantity of securities you would like to purchase. Remember to enter at least the minimum the bond requires. During our testing, we were able to achieve a lower price by entering a higher quantity.


Step 6: Be Sure to Check Out Vanguard’s Bond Funds

If you don’t trust your own judgment in the bond selection process, Vanguard’s platforms offer many Treasury bond ETF’s and mutual funds. Some of them have no load and no transaction fee.


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