What is the Treasury bill? Meaning, Types, and Characteristics

Rate this post

A Treasury bill, often abbreviated as T-bill, is a short-term debt obligation issued by the government of a country for various purposes, such as financing government operations, managing cash flow, or implementing monetary policy. It is typically issued with a maturity of one year or less, making it one of the shortest-term securities issued by the government. Treasury bills are considered to be among the safest investments because they are backed by the full faith and credit of the government that issues them.

What is the Treasury bill?

Key characteristics of Treasury bills:

Issued by Governments

A Treasury bill is a short-term debt security issued by a government.

Example: The U.S. Department of the Treasury issues Treasury bills in the United States.

Fixed Maturity and Face Value

T-bills have a fixed maturity date, typically ranging from a few days to one year. They are issued at a discount to their face value.

Example: A 91-day Treasury bill may be issued at $9,800 for a face value of $10,000, maturing in 91 days.

Discounted Purchase and No Interest Payments

Investors purchase T-bills at a discount to their face value, and they do not pay periodic interest. The interest is implicit in the difference between the purchase price and face value.

Example: Buying a $10,000 face value T-bill for $9,800 implies an implicit interest of $200.

Risk-Free Investment

Treasury bills are considered risk-free investments because they are backed by the full faith and credit of the government that issues them.

Example: U.S. Treasury bills are backed by the U.S. government, which is considered one of the most creditworthy in the world.

Liquidity and Secondary Market Trading

T-bills are highly liquid, meaning they can be easily bought or sold in the secondary market before maturity.

Example: An investor can sell a T-bill to another investor in the secondary market if they need to access funds before maturity.

Benchmark for Short-Term Interest Rates

Treasury bills often serve as a benchmark for short-term interest rates in the financial markets.

Example: Changes in T-bill yields can influence the broader interest rate environment, impacting borrowing costs and investment decisions.

Zero-Coupon Securities

Treasury bills are zero-coupon securities, meaning they do not make periodic interest payments. The return is realized at maturity.

Example: An investor buys a 180-day T-bill at a discount and receives the face value at maturity, realizing the interest.

Government Funding Mechanism

Governments use Treasury bills as a mechanism to fund short-term expenditures.

Example: The government issues T-bills to raise funds quickly for budgetary needs without resorting to long-term debt.

Maturities and Varieties

T-bills come in various maturities, such as 28 days, 91 days, 182 days, or 1 year, providing flexibility for investors.

Example: An investor with a short-term cash surplus might prefer a 28-day T-bill, while a longer-term surplus may lead to a 1-year T-bill.

Role in Investment Portfolios

Investors use Treasury bills as a safe and stable component in their investment portfolios.

Example: Conservative investors may allocate a portion of their portfolio to T-bills for capital preservation and liquidity.


Treasury bills play a vital role in the financial markets, serving as a cornerstone of safe, short-term investments. Their simplicity, safety, and liquidity make them attractive to a wide range of investors and institutions.

2 thoughts on “What is the Treasury bill? Meaning, Types, and Characteristics”

Leave a Comment

How can we help you?

We are a group of professionals from accounting background happy to help individuals achieving their financial goals.

About us Contact Us

© 2024 | MoneyQuate | All Rights Reserved