10-Year US Treasury Note: What It Is and Investment Advantages (2024)

What Is a 10-Year Treasury Note?

The 10-year Treasury note is a debt obligation issued by the U.S. government with a maturity of 10 years upon initial issuance. A 10-year Treasury note pays interest at a fixed rate every six months and pays the face value to the holder at maturity. The U.S. government partially funds itself by issuing these notes.

Key Takeaways

  • Treasury notes (T-notes) have maturities of up to 10 years. These can be appropriate for long-term saving or investing.
  • You don't necessarily have to hold 10-year T-notes for the entire duration. You can sell them at any time in the secondary market.
  • The 10-year T-note is the most widely tracked government debt instrument in finance.
  • T-note prices typically move in the opposite direction from major stock market indexes.

Understanding 10-Year Treasury Notes

The U.S. government issues three types of debt securities to fund its obligations: Treasury bills, Treasury notes, and Treasury bonds. Bills, bonds, and notes are distinguished by their length of maturity.

Treasury bills (T-bills) have the shortest lengths of time to maturity—one year or less. The Treasury offers T-bills with maturities of four, eight, 13, 26, and 52 weeks. Treasury notes have maturities ranging from one to 10 years. Bonds are Treasury securities with maturities longer than 10 years.

The U.S. government partially funds itself by issuing 10-year Treasury notes.

Treasury notes and bonds pay interest at a fixed rate every six months to maturity. They're then redeemed at par value. The Treasury repays the principal it borrowed.

T-bills are issued at discounts to par, and they don't have coupon payments. The interest on T-bills is the difference between the face value repaid at maturity and the purchase price.

The 10-Year Note Yield As a Benchmark

The 10-year T-note is the most widely tracked government debt instrument. Its yield is frequently used as a benchmark for other interest rates like mortgage and corporate debt. Commercial interest rates don't follow the 10-year yield, however.

This chart shows a historical example of the 10-year Treasury yield from March 2019 to March 2020. The yield steadily declined over this span with expectations that the Federal Reserve would maintain low interest rates or cut them further. The decline in yield accelerated amid growing concerns about the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in late February 2020. The decline of the 10-year yield accelerated even further as the Federal Reserve ordered an emergency rate cut of 50 basis points in early March. The yield dropped to a record low of 0.32% before rebounding.

10-Year US Treasury Note: What It Is and Investment Advantages (1)

The 10-year note is undoubtedly a highly significant benchmark for global financial markets. A rising yield indicates investor confidence in the economy but also suggests higher borrowing costs, potentially slowing economic growth. Conversely, a falling yield may signal economic uncertainty.

Since March 2020, the 10-year Treasury yield has had significant fluctuations. It hit an all-time low of 0.318% amid pandemic-induced market uncertainty. However, the low-interest environment ended over the next 18-24 months, with several annual peaks in 2023. The Federal Reserve mainly increased interest rates to curb inflation and control the soaring prices of consumer goods. In early 2024, the 10-year Treasury yield stood at 4.01%.

What Impacts the 10-year Treasury Yield?

Several factors influence the 10-year Treasury yield. It's directly affected by investor confidence in the markets. When investors are optimistic about the economy's health, they tend to invest in riskier assets, reducing demand for Treasury notes, causing a need to increase their yield. Conversely, in times of economic uncertainty, investors often flock to the safety of Treasury notes, driving up their prices and lowering them.

Inflation is another major influence, as we have seen more recently. Higher inflation can decrease the real return on Treasury notes, causing yields to rise as investors demand higher returns to offset the erosion of buying power. Conversely, low inflation can lead to lower yields.

Lastly, the yield is also affected by monetary policy decisions by the Federal Reserve. For instance, when the Federal Reserve chooses to raise interest rates, yields on Treasury notes also tend to increase, reflecting the higher cost of borrowing.

The Advantages of Investing in Treasury Notes

Fixed-income securities offer important portfolio diversification benefits because their returns aren't correlated with the performance of stocks.

T-notes are safe

Government debt and the 10-year Treasury note, in particular, are considered among the safest investments. Its price often (but not always) moves inversely to the trend of the major stock market indexes. Central banks tend to lower interest rates in a recession, which reduces the coupon rate on new Treasurys. This then makes older Treasury securities with higher coupon rates more desirable.

T-notes are partially tax-exempt

Another advantage of investing in 10-year Treasury notes and other federal government securities is that the coupon payments are exempt from state and local income taxes. They're still taxable at the federal level, however.

There's no minimum holding term

Investors can choose to hold Treasury notes until maturity or sell them early in the secondary market. There's no minimum holding term.

The Disadvantages of Investing in Treasury Notes

Investing in Treasury notes, while considered safe, comes with drawbacks.

Lower rate of return

Treasury notes can yield less than riskier assets like equity investments or higher-yielding corporate bonds. This makes them potentially less profitable for investors than alternatives.

Inflation risks

During periods of high inflation, fixed-interest payments from Treasury notes can lose purchasing power. If inflation outpaces the yield, the real return can turn negative. If you are holding longer-running notes, you need to ensure you understand how inflation will affect your investment.

Interest rate risk

An uptick in interest rates could lower the value of existing Treasury notes. This could result in capital losses should you liquidate your holdings before their maturity date.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Investing in Treasury Notes


  • Low risk because of government backing

  • Easy to buy and sell

  • Partially free from state and local taxes


  • Lower yield compared with other investments

  • Vulnerability to inflation

  • Potential capital loss if sold before maturity

How to Buy 10-year Treasury Bonds

The U.S. Treasury sells its notes, bonds, and bills through the TreasuryDirect website. Sales are done through competitive or noncompetitive bidding with a minimum purchase of $100, with bidding increasing in $100 increments. Treasury securities can also be bought through a bank or broker.

How Are T-Notes Issued?

All T-notes are issued electronically, so investors cannot obtain paper certificates. Series I Savings Bonds are the only Treasury securities still issued on paper, and they can only be bought on paper with tax refund proceeds.

When Are T-Notes Issued?

The Treasury issues new T-notes of shorter maturities every month. However, new 10-year notes areonly issued in February, May, August, and November. The Treasury sells additional 10-year notes from the most recent issue in what is known as "reopenings" in other months.

Reopened notes have the same maturity date and coupon interest rate as the original issue, but they have a different issue date and a purchase price that reflects subsequent changes in the market's interest rates.

Can I buy Treasury Bills from my Bank?

Yes, you can purchase Treasury bills from many banks but you may end up paying additional expenses such as sales commissions and other transaction charges. Over time, these fees and expenses can eat into your returns.

The Bottom Line

A 10-year Treasury note pays interest at a fixed rate twice a year and will pay its face value at maturity. They are issued by the U.S. government and provide low-risk investments, and they're generally tax-exempt at the state and local levels. T-notes can be a good choice for those who prefer not to roll the dice with more iffy investments.

10-Year US Treasury Note: What It Is and Investment Advantages (2024)


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