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Are Bonds a Good Investment

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Wonder what investing in bonds might entail? Start with Benzinga’s guide to determine whether bonds are the right investment for you.

Why Invest in Bonds? 

Bonds can be an important part of your investment profile, especially when it comes to the long term. Bonds offer predictable financial benefit without complicated strategies, and casual and non-investors can leverage this type of security just as easily as active traders. 

Bonds are especially popular if you’re looking to save money for a long-term goal. For example, you might buy bonds when you’re in your 20s or 30s to provide a little extra cushion at retirement. You might also buy them to give to your children to cash out when it’s time to pay for college or buy a house in adulthood. 

3 Reasons Bonds are a Good Investment 

In terms of trading, there are benefits bonds can offer that other long term investments can’t. Here are 3 reasons bonds are a good investment:

1. Bonds Provide Fixed Income 

Bonds are just another way to grow your money, so it’s important to note bonds typically provide a reliable income stream. Some may even say that bonds provide the highest income stream compared to other investment products. The stock market can be volatile.

But with bonds, even when the rates are low, there are still options to make sure you’re hitting your income targets.

2. Bonds Allow You to Diversify Your Portfolio 

Diversifying your portfolio basically means you’re making sure you’re not putting all of your eggs in one basket. By investing in a variety of products, you lower your risk of losing out on a return.

For example, if you’re already trading on the stock market, it wouldn’t hurt to consider adding bonds to your investment strategy. When the stock market isn’t doing well, you can lean on your bonds to preserve your capital until the stock market has an upswing. 

3. Bonds Provide Tax Benefits 

Bonds offer tax benefits. If you trade bonds from U.S. Treasuries, you can rest easy knowing that this income is tax-free on both state and local levels.

Municipal bonds are tax-free at the federal level. And if you buy a municipal bond issued by the state you live in, you won’t need to pay state tax on it either.

Types of Bonds to Invest In 

Think of bonds like a bank loan, but you’re the bank that benefits from the interest charged. The difference in types of bonds lies in which entity issues the bond and how the funds are used. We’ve outlined 4 main types of bonds:

1. Treasury Bonds

Treasury bonds are known as the highest-quality securities you can get. They are issued by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and have a maturity date that can range anywhere from 10 to 30 years.

When your bond reaches maturity, the principal interest will be repaid. It will also stop earning interest. 

Like we mentioned, you won’t need to pay state or local taxes on the interest earned by these bonds. Since they’re backed by the government, there is little risk of default.

2. Sovereign Bonds

Sovereign bonds are also issued by the federal government and can be denominated in the U.S. dollar or in global reserve currency. The government uses sovereign bonds to fund government spending programs. There are different types of sovereign bonds, such as agency bonds and savings bonds.

3. Municipal Bonds

Municipal bonds are also issued by the government, but this time we’re talking about state and local governments. They’re used to fund the construction of public projects like schools, housing, highways and sewer systems. 

There are also different types of municipal bonds — general obligations bonds and revenue bonds. If you trade municipal bonds, note they are exempt from federal income tax. Your bond may be exempt from state and local taxes as well if you live in the issuing state. 

However, in some cases, your bond may be subject to federal, state and local alternative minimum tax. Although these bonds are issued by the government, municipal bonds pose a higher risk because local governments are more likely to go bankrupt than the federal government. 

4. Corporate Bonds

Corporate bonds are issued by corporations to fund business expansions and large capital investments. Overall, this is a less predictable type of bond because the risk depends on the financial outlook and reputation of the company.

But corporate bonds can also provide higher rewards for your investment. Another corporate option is convertible bonds — corporate bonds that can become company stock. 

Should You Invest in Bonds When You are Young? 

It’s a myth that you can’t start investing when you have student debt on your back. If you’re a young investor, you have time on your side, and you can reinvest what you earn to generate wealth over time.  Young investors also have the time to assume more risk. Once you’re close to retirement age, you must decrease your risk in favor of earning potential and security.

Investing in bonds specifically provides a low-risk way to dip your toe in the water. A bond strategy called buy and hold allows you to buy a bond and hold onto it until it reaches maturity. By doing this, the only way you can lose money is if the issuing entity goes bankrupt and can’t repay you. 

Best Brokerages for Bond Trading 

When it comes to trading bonds, you’ll want to look for a brokerage. A broker can offer you the tools and resources to help compare and find the best bonds for your portfolio.

Some online brokers will even give you access to a fixed-income specialist to review your portfolio and make suggestions.

Here are some of the best brokerages for bond trading: 

Best For
Intermediate Traders and Investors
Overall Rating
Get started securely through Webull’s website
Best For
Intermediate Traders and Investors
N/A
1 Minute Review

Webull, founded in 2017, is a mobile app-based brokerage that features commission-free stock and exchange-traded fund (ETF) trading. It’s regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

Webull offers active traders technical indicators, economic calendars, ratings from research agencies, margin trading and short-selling. Webull’s trading platform is designed for intermediate and experienced traders, although beginning traders can also benefit.

Webull is widely considered one of the best Robinhood alternatives.

Best For
  • Active traders
  • Intermediate traders
  • Advanced traders
Pros
  • Commission-free trading in over 5,000 different stocks and ETFs
  • No account maintenance fees or software platform fees
  • No charges to open and maintain an account
  • Leverage of 4:1 on margin trades made the same day and leverage of 2:1 on trades held overnight
  • Intuitive trading platform with technical and fundamental analysis tools
Cons
  • Does not support trading in mutual funds, bonds or OTC stocks
Best For
Futures Trading
Overall Rating
Get started securely through TradeStation’s website
Best For
Futures Trading
N/A
1 Minute Review

TradeStation is for advanced traders who need a comprehensive platform. The brokerage offers an impressive range of investable assets as frequent and professional traders appreciate its wide range of analysis tools. TradeStation’s app is also equally effective, offering full platform capabilities.

Best For
  • Advanced traders
  • Options and futures traders
  • Active stock traders
Pros
  • Comprehensive trading platform and professional-grade tools
  • Wide range of tradable securities
  • Fully-operational mobile app
Cons
  • Confusing pricing structure to leave new traders with a weak understanding of what they pay
  • Cluttered layout to make navigating TradeStation’s platform more difficult than it should be
Best For
Options Trading
Overall Rating
Get started securely through TD Ameritrade’s website
Best For
Options Trading
N/A
1 Minute Review

This publicly listed discount broker, which is in existence for over four decades, is service-intensive, offering intuitive and powerful investment tools. Especially, with equity investing, a flat fee is charged, with the firm claiming that it charges no trade minimum, no data fees, and no platform fees. Though it is pricier than many other discount brokers, what tilts the scales in its favor is its well-rounded service offerings and the quality and value it offers its clients.

Best For
  • Novice investors
  • Retirement savers
  • Day traders
Pros
  • World-class trading platforms
  • Detailed research reports and Education Center
  • Assets ranging from stocks and ETFs to derivatives like futures and options
Cons
  • Thinkorswim can be overwhelming to inexperienced traders
  • Derivatives trading more costly than some competitors
  • Expensive margin rates
Best For
Advanced traders
Overall Rating
Get started securely through Moomoo’s website
Best For
Advanced traders
N/A
1 Minute Review

Moomoo is a commission-free mobile trading app available on Apple, Google and Windows devices. A subsidiary of Futu Holdings Ltd., it’s backed by venture capital affiliates of Matrix, Sequoia, and Tencent (NASDAQ: FUTU). Securities offered by Futu Inc., regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

Moomoo is another great alternative for Robinhood. This is an outstanding trading platform if you want to dive deep into smart trading. It offers impressive trading tools and opportunities for both new and advanced traders, including advanced charting, pre and post-market trading, international trading, research and analysis tools, and most popular of all, free Level 2 quotes.

Get started right away by downloading Moomoo to your phone, tablet or another mobile device.

Best For
  • Cost-conscious traders
  • Novice traders
  • Active/Advanced traders
Pros
  • Free Level 2 market data for all users who open an account
  • Commission-free trading in over 5,000 different stocks and ETFs
  • Over 8,000 different stocks that can be sold short
  • $0 contract fee for trading options, no commission either
  • Strong market data and analysis tools with over 50 technical indicators
  • Access trading and quotes in pre-market (4 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. ET) and post-market hours (4 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET)
  • No minimum deposit to open an account.
  • Active trading community with more than 100,000 app users
Cons
  • No phone or chat support

Why You Should Invest in Bonds

If you’re ready to invest but want a predictable income stream, you should likely invest in bonds. No matter your age, bonds can provide security when the stock market is failing, offer additional tax benefits and diversify your portfolio. 

Whether you’re risk-averse or ready to dive in and take chances with your investments, know there really is a bond investment strategy for everyone — including you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Should I increase my investment in bonds as I age?

Stocks do earn more interest, but bonds are generally considered a safer investment. Some advisors recommend increasing the percentage of your portfolio committed to bonds as you age. And some bonds do bring potential tax breaks.

We recommend you speak to your financial advisor to create an investment strategy.

Q: Does it matter how long I hold on to a bond?

Yes. Bonds are sold for a fixed term from 1 to 30 years. You can sell a bond before it matures, but you run the risk of not making back your original investment.

Some people buy into a bond fund that pools a variety of bonds. This is a good way to diversify, but these funds are more volatile without a fixed price or interest rate. 

A bond’s rate is fixed at the time of purchase, and interest is paid regularly for the life of the bond. The full original investment is paid back when the bond matures.

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