For the past 76 years, investors had the option of buying U.S. savings bonds at a bank or credit union. After December 31, 2011, that will no longer be the case. Savings bonds can then only be purchased electronically through TreasuryDirect, sponsored on the Internet by the Treasury's Bureau of Public Debt.
Bonds have been available through TreasuryDirect since 2002, but investors have been slow to purchase bonds electronically. Only 11% of bonds purchased from October 2010 through June 2011 were bought through TreasuryDirect.
Selling bonds exclusively through electronic means will save the government $70 million over five years. The Treasury points out that investors benefit too: electronic bonds are less likely to be misplaced, and they are automatically redeemed when they mature.
The change won't affect outstanding paper bonds.