The government estimates that abandoning paper bonds will save about...

The government estimates that abandoning paper bonds will save about $24 million a year. Credit: iStock

For years, I've been sending my grandchildren U.S. Savings Bonds for their birthdays. Now, the bank tells me: "There are no more paper bonds. Here's a website instead." They helped me fill out information online, including the name of my first pet, my first car, etc. for a special password. Two days later, back to the bank for more passwords to access my bank account. Then they wanted all the same information for the recipient of the bond, and we gave up. All I want is a savings bond to put in a birthday card. I'm sure I'm not the only person with this problem.

You certainly aren't. Bonds in birthday cards are a venerable tradition. Eighty-eight percent of savings bonds sold last year were in paper form. But since January 2012, the government has issued them only electronically. To buy them now, you must set up a Treasury Direct account online.

Bonds bought as gifts are transferred electronically to the recipient's online account. That's right, your grandchild needs one, too; and to make things more complicated, a child under 18 isn't eligible for his own Treasury Direct account; he must have a Minor account linked to your account. Treasury Direct sends him an email announcing your gift. Looking for something more personal? No problem! Treasury Direct now offers gift certificates for all occasions. You can download and print a gift certificate to put in the birthday card.

The government estimates that abandoning paper bonds will save about $24 million a year, notes Daniel J. Pederson, a former supervisor of the Federal Reserve Bank's savings bond division. But Pederson doubts those savings will materialize, partly because the estimate doesn't anticipate lost sales to people like you.

The bottom line U.S. Savings Bonds are now sold only in electronic form.

Websites with more information bit.ly/JNk4xp and 1.usa.gov/IZzEop