What Is a Call Date?

The call date is a day on which the issuer has the right to redeem a callable bond at par, or at a small premium to par, prior to the stated maturity date. The call date and related terms will be stated in a security's prospectus.

Key Takeaways

  • The call date, stated in a security's prospectus, gives the issuer of a callable security the ability to redeem it at or around par.
  • An issuer can only exercise its callable option for early redemption on specified call dates.
  • There could be one or multiple call dates over the life of the bond, and for each of the call dates, a particular redemption value is specified.

Understanding Call Date

The trust indenture also lists the call date(s) a bond can be called early after the call protection period ends. There could be one or multiple call dates over the life of the bond. The call date that immediately follows the end of the call protection is called the first call date. The series of call dates is known as a call schedule, and for each of the call dates, a particular redemption value is specified. Logic dictates that the call date provision will only be exercised if the issuer.feels that there is a benefit to refinancing the issue. Investors who depend on the interest income generated from bonds must be aware of the call date when buying a bond.

A bondholder expects to receive interest payments on their bond until the maturity date, at which point the face value of the bond is repaid. The coupons paid represent interest income to the investor. However, there are some bonds that are callable as outlined in the trust indenture at the time of issuance. Issuers of callable bonds have the right to redeem the bonds prior to their maturity dates, especially during times when interest rates in the markets decrease. When interest rates decrease, borrowers (issuers) have an opportunity to refinance the terms of the bond coupon rate at a lower interest rate, thereby reducing their cost of borrowing. When bonds are “called” before they mature, interest will no longer be paid to the investors.

Call Protection

To protect bondholders from issuers redeeming a bond earlier than the maturity date, the trust indenture will typically highlight a call protection period. The call protection is a period of time within which a bond cannot be redeemed. For example, a bond issued with 20 years to maturity may have a call protection period of seven years. This means that for the first seven years of the bond’s existence, regardless of how interest rates move in the economy, the bond issuer cannot buy back the bonds from holders. The lockout period provides investors some protection as they are guaranteed interest payments on the bond for at least seven years, after which interest income is not guaranteed.

Special Considerations

An issuer may choose to redeem its existing bonds on the call date if interest rates are favorable. If rates and yields are unfavorable, issuers will likely choose to not call their bonds until a later call date or simply wait until the maturity date to refinance. A bond issuer can only exercise its option of redeeming the bonds early on specified call dates.

To compensate bondholders for early redemption, a premium above the face value is paid to the investors. Since call provisions place investors at a disadvantage, bonds with call provisions tend to be worth less than comparable non-callable bonds. Therefore, in order to lure investors, issuing companies must offer higher coupon rates on callable bonds.