If you've been to an ATM lately, you may have done a double take when you took the cash from the dispenser. That's because on Sept. 24, a redesigned $20 bill began circulating, joining the $50 and $100 "new look" notes that made their debut the two previous years. "Old" $20 bills will remain in circulation until they wear out.
Like the other revamped bills, the new $20 has several security features designed both to thwart would-be counterfeiters and make it easier for consumers and business people to spot counterfeit currency. The most noticeable change to the note is the enlarged, off-center portrait of President Andrew Jackson. Other enhanced security features include: a watermark, microprinting and color-shifting ink.
Get used to seeing the new bills: Redesigned $10, $5 and $1 notes will be introduced in the next few years.
An age-old investment device has just been made one better. On Sept. 1, the U.S. Department of the Treasury began selling Series I (Eye) savings bonds, which are indexed for inflation.
The I bonds have a fixed return rate of 3.40 percent and an inflation rate of 1.26 percent, giving them a combined earnings rate of 4.66 percent. The fixed return rate remains the same for the life of the bond, while the inflation rate will be recalculated every six months, in May and November. As with the Treasury's Series EE (non inflation-indexed) bonds, tax payments on Series I bond earnings can be deferred until the bond is redeemed.
The Series I bonds will be sold at face value in denominations of $50, $75, $100, $500, $1,000 and $5,000, with $200 and $10,000 denominations to follow in 1999. Series EE bonds are sold at 50 percent of face value. Both types of savings bonds are available for purchase through commercial financial institutions and payroll savings plans.
For current bond rates, dial 1-800-4-US-BOND.
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