Skip to main content

Buying & selling bonds

You can buy and sell almost any type of bond denominated in U.S. dollars through Vanguard Brokerage.

POINTS TO KNOW

  • Our bond selection is extensive, but you can narrow your choices according to criteria you specify.
  • Understand the different bond types and their features before you trade.
  • It's easy to research bonds online and then place your order.

Bond offerings that meet your goals

Bond types & features

Get details on the types of bonds you can buy and sell.

U.S. Treasury bonds

Choose from auction or secondary bond issues, including TIPS.

At auction: Maturities ranging from 1 month to 30 years; minimum purchase of $1,000; auctions held 4 times a year.

Secondary issues: Minimum purchase of $1,000; commissions apply.

Government agency & corporate bonds

Both new and secondary issues are available.

New issues: Maturities ranging from 1 month to 30 years; trading during the specified offering period; minimum purchase of $10,000.

Secondary issues: Minimum purchase of $1,000; commissions apply.

Municipal bonds

We offer only secondary issues of municipal bonds.

  • Most municipal bonds are issued and traded in $5,000 denominations.
  • Commissions apply.

Preferred securities

Combining the features of stocks and bonds, preferred securities (also called preferred stocks) have a face value and pay interest like bonds, but they're traded like stocks.

We offer new and secondary issues, usually issued in $25 denominations.

New issues in the primary market: Commissions may apply if Vanguard Brokerage doesn't receive a concession from the issuer.

Transactions in the secondary market: Commissions apply.

May have call provisions allowing the issuer to buy back the securities at a fixed price before the stated maturity date.

Interest payments

Bonds generally pay interest (the coupon amount) to bondholders semiannually.

What's next?

Research bond offerings online and then get ready to place your order. You'll need to know the following information:

For purchases:

  • Brokerage account number.
  • Quantity to be purchased.
  • Desired credit quality.
  • Dollar price restriction. (Will you pay a premium over the face value (par), or are you looking for a bond that's been discounted below par?)
  • Maturity range.
  • CUSIP number, if available.
  • Other relevant criteria, such as specific states for municipal bonds.

For sales or bids:

  • Brokerage account number for the account holding the securities you want to sell.
  • Quantity to be sold.

Get complete portfolio management

We can help you custom-develop and implement your financial plan, giving you greater confidence that you're doing all you can to reach your goals.

Saving for retirement or college?

See guidance that can help you make a plan, solidify your strategy, and pick the right investments.

Already know what you want?

From mutual funds and ETFs to stocks and bonds, find all the investments you're looking for, all in one place.

REFERENCE CONTENT

Layer opened.

Bond

A loan made to a corporation or government in exchange for regular interest payments. The bond issuer agrees to pay back the loan by a specific date. Bonds can be traded on the secondary market.

Layer opened.

Fixed income investment

An investment, such as a bond, that offers returns in the form of interest payments.

Layer opened.

Maturity

The length of time between a bond's issue date and when its face value will be repaid.

Layer opened.

Yield

The income return on an investment usually expressed as a percentage of the investment's cost, current market value, or face value.

Layer opened.

Credit quality

A measure of a bond issuer's ability to repay interest and principal in a timely manner.

Layer opened.

Auction

The process of selling bonds to investors. It starts when the Treasury announces how much money it intends to borrow, the bonds' terms (length), and the auction date.

Layer opened.

Secondary market

A market where investors buy and sell to each other (rather than buying directly from a security's issuer). Most stock and bond trading happens on the secondary market.

Layer opened.

TIPS (Treasury inflation protected securities)

Treasury securities whose return fluctuates with inflation. The principal increases with inflation and decreases with deflation. TIPS pay a fixed coupon rate.

Layer opened.

Stock

An investment that represents part ownership in a corporation. Each share of stock is a proportional stake in the corporation's assets and profits.

Layer opened.

Preferred stock (security)

A security that takes precedence over common stock when a company pays dividends or liquidates assets. Preferred securities do not usually carry voting rights.

Layer opened.

Callable security

A security that allows the issuer to repurchase or redeem it prior to its maturity date.

Layer opened.

Premium

A bond being sold for a price higher than its face value.

Layer opened.

Discount

A bond being sold for less than its face value.

Layer opened.

CUSIP number

A unique 9-character code for each security approved for trading in the United States. It's supplied by the Committee on Uniform Securities Identification Procedures.

Layer opened.

Commission

A fee charged by a broker for executing a securities transaction.

Layer opened.

Interest/Interest rate

Income you can receive by investing in bonds or cash investments. The investment's interest rate is specified when it's issued.