How Do Treasury Bills Work;5 Examples You Must Know

How Do Treasury Bills Work.Treasury Bills are short term fixed income issues (3 months, 6 months, 12 months or 18 months) validated by the State as it is one of its sources of financing.Treasury bills, also known as T-bills, are short-term debt securities issued by the government to finance its operations or to raise funds for other government programs. Here’s how they work:

How Do Treasury Bills Work.

  1. Treasury bills are sold through auctions conducted by the government. Investors, such as individuals, corporations, and financial institutions, can submit bids to buy T-bills at a specific price.
  2. The government sets a minimum price for the T-bill, which is called the “face value” or “par value.” The face value is the amount that the government will repay the investor when the T-bill matures.
  3. The government then determines the interest rate, which is called the “discount rate.” The discount rate is the difference between the face value and the price at which the T-bill is sold. The higher the discount rate, the lower the price of the T-bill.
  4. When the auction is completed, the government sells T-bills to the highest bidders, starting with the lowest discount rate until all the T-bills are sold.
  5. T-bills have a maturity period of less than one year, ranging from a few days to 52 weeks. At maturity, the government pays the face value of the T-bill to the investor.
  6. The investor can hold the T-bill until maturity or sell it on the secondary market to another investor. The market price of the T-bill on the secondary market may fluctuate based on changes in interest rates and demand for the security.

In summary, Treasury bills are a way for the government to borrow money from investors for a short period of time, and they offer investors a low-risk investment with a fixed return.

Characteristics of Treasury Bills;How Do Treasury Bills Work.

Among the most important points of this investment product are the following:

  • The maturity of Treasury bills is between 3 and 12 months . During this time, buyers can make a profit on the fixed interest.
  • The minimum amount of each request is set at 1,000 euros and in the event that requests are made for a higher amount, they must always be multiples of said figure.
  • Bills are issued via auction .
  • This type of investment works through the discount formula. This means that the acquisition price is less than the face value, so the return received by the investor is the difference between the purchase cost and the real amount of the title.

How do Treasury Bills work with a practical example?

Taking into account that Treasury bills are issued at a discount on the real value, if for example the price is set at 5,000 euros, the State could sell for 4,500 euros. In this way, when the expiration date agreed in the contract arrives, the investor receives the full nominal value (5,000 euros). Therefore, the profits that are achieved amount to 500 euros.

In practice, the interest that buyers receive is called the discount rate , which is calculated as a percentage. This means that in the event that 6-month bills are issued with a yield of 0.75 percent, it means that the acquisition price is 992.5 euros (0.75 percent of 1,000 euros) and the benefit is 7.5 euros for each title.

How are Treasury Bills Different from Bonds?

While both treasury bills and bonds are debt securities issued by the government, they differ in terms of maturity. Treasury bills have a maturity period of less than one year, typically ranging from a few days to 364 days, whereas bonds have longer maturity periods, often extending to several years.

Why Do Investors Buy Treasury Bills?

  1. Safety: Treasury bills are backed by the government, making them a safe investment option with minimal default risk.
  2. Liquidity: T-bills are highly liquid, meaning investors can easily buy or sell them in the secondary market.
  3. Diversification: Investors often include treasury bills in their portfolio to diversify risk, as they usually move independently from other asset classes.
  4. Steady Income: Treasury bills offer a fixed return on investment in the form of interest or discount earned upon maturity.

How Do Treasury Bills Work?

  1. Issuance: The U.S. Department of the Treasury auctions treasury bills to sell them to the public. These auctions take place at regular intervals, such as weekly or monthly. Bidders can participate through noncompetitive or competitive bidding.
  2. Discount or Interest: Treasury bills are issued at a discount from their face value. For example, a $1,000 bill may be sold at a discounted price of $980. At maturity, the investor is repaid the full face value, earning the difference as interest. The interest earned on T-bills is exempt from state and local taxes.
  3. Secondary Market Trading: After the initial auction, treasury bills can be freely traded in the secondary market. Investors can buy or sell them through brokerage firms, financial institutions, or directly from the U.S. Treasury. The prices in the secondary market may fluctuate based on prevailing interest rates.
  4. Maturity: Treasury bills have a fixed maturity date, ranging from a few days to 364 days. On the maturity date, the investor receives the full face value of the bill. If an investor needs immediate liquidity before maturity, they can sell the T-bill in the secondary market at the prevailing market price.

Are Treasury Bills a Good Investment?

  1. Risk-Free Nature: Treasury bills are considered risk-free because of their backing by the government. They are an excellent choice for investors who prioritize capital preservation.
  2. Low Returns: While treasury bills offer a stable return, they generally provide lower yields compared to other investments such as stocks or corporate bonds. However, they are still attractive to conservative investors seeking stability.
  3. Short-Term Horizon: Treasury bills are suitable for those with short-term investment horizons or cash flow needs. They offer a disciplined way to park excess funds until they are required.


Understanding how treasury bills work is essential for investors. These short-term debt securities provide a safe and convenient way for the government to manage its cash flow needs while offering individuals a reliable and low-risk investment option. By familiarizing yourself with the basics of treasury bills, you can make informed investment decisions and potentially enhance your financial well-being.

by Abdullah Sam
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