Bond Basics: Different Types Of Bonds
AAA
  1. Bond Basics: Introduction
  2. Bond Basics: What Are Bonds?
  3. Bond Basics: Characteristics
  4. Bond Basics: Yield, Price And Other Confusion
  5. Bond Basics: Different Types Of Bonds
  6. Bond Basics: How To Read A Bond Table
  7. Bond Basics: How Do I Buy Bonds?
  8. Bond Basics: Conclusion

Bond Basics: Different Types Of Bonds

Government Bonds
In general, fixed-income securities are classified according to the length of time before maturity. These are the three main categories:

Bills -
debt securities maturing in less than one year.
Notes - debt securities maturing in one to 10 years.
Bonds - debt securities maturing in more than 10 years.

Marketable securities from the U.S. government - known collectively as Treasuries - follow this guideline and are issued as Treasury bonds, Treasury notes and Treasury bills (T-bills). Technically speaking, T-bills aren't bonds because of their short maturity. (You can read more about T-bills in our Money Market tutorial.) All debt issued by Uncle Sam is regarded as extremely safe, as is the debt of any stable country. The debt of many developing countries, however, does carry substantial risk. Like companies, countries can default on payments.

Municipal Bonds
Municipal bonds, known as "munis", are the next progression in terms of risk. Cities don't go bankrupt that often, but it can happen. The major advantage to munis is that the returns are free from federal tax. Furthermore, local governments will sometimes make their debt non-taxable for residents, thus making some municipal bonds completely tax free. Because of these tax savings, the yield on a muni is usually lower than that of a taxable bond. Depending on your personal situation, a muni can be a great investment on an after-tax basis.

Corporate Bonds
A company can issue bonds just as it can issue stock. Large corporations have a lot of flexibility as to how much debt they can issue: the limit is whatever the market will bear. Generally, a short-term corporate bond is less than five years; intermediate is five to 12 years, and long term is over 12 years.

Corporate bonds are characterized by higher yields because there is a higher risk of a company defaulting than a government. The upside is that they can also be the most rewarding fixed-income investments because of the risk the investor must take on. The company's credit quality is very important: the higher the quality, the lower the interest rate the investor receives.

Other variations on corporate bonds include convertible bonds, which the holder can convert into stock, and callable bonds, which allow the company to redeem an issue prior to maturity.



Zero-Coupon Bonds
This is a type of bond that makes no coupon payments but instead is issued at a considerable discount to par value. For example, let's say a zero-coupon bond with a $1,000 par value and 10 years to maturity is trading at $600; you'd be paying $600 today for a bond that will be worth $1,000 in 10 years.

Bond Basics: How To Read A Bond Table

  1. Bond Basics: Introduction
  2. Bond Basics: What Are Bonds?
  3. Bond Basics: Characteristics
  4. Bond Basics: Yield, Price And Other Confusion
  5. Bond Basics: Different Types Of Bonds
  6. Bond Basics: How To Read A Bond Table
  7. Bond Basics: How Do I Buy Bonds?
  8. Bond Basics: Conclusion
RELATED TERMS
  1. Next Generation Fixed Income (NGFI) Manager

    A Next Generation Fixed Income (NGFI) manager is a fixed income ...
  2. Next Generation Fixed Income (NGFI)

    Next generation fixed income is an innovative approach to investing ...
  3. Class 3-6 Bonds

    Several classes of noninvestment grade bonds held by an insurance ...
  4. Impact investing

  5. Promotional CD rate (Bonus CD rate)

    A limited-time offer of a higher rate of return on a certificate ...
  6. Direct Bidder

    An entity that purchases Treasury securities at auction for a ...
  1. What commodities are not tradable?

    Learn about some of the durable and consumable goods that are not considered tradable commodities and why these goods cannot ...
  2. What are the main advantages of fixed income securities?

    Learn why the addition of fixed income securities are common among investors who are attempting to limit their exposure to ...
  3. If interest rate swaps are based on two companies' different outlook on interest ...

    See how two companies can swap interest rate payments and mutually benefit. See how these swaps arbitrage differences in ...
  4. How did the LIBOR scandal affect interest rate swaps?

    Find out how the LIBOR scandal directly enriched some interest rate swap traders and harmed others by understating the real ...

You May Also Like

Related Tutorials
  1. Bonds & Fixed Income

    Investing For Safety and Income Tutorial

  2. Economics

    American Depositary Receipt Basics

  3. Investing Basics

    Stock Basics Tutorial

  4. Retirement

    Analyzing The Best Retirement Plans And Investment Options

  5. Options & Futures

    Beginner's Guide To Trading Futures

Trading Center