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Debt obligations of the US Treasury that have maturities of one year or less. Maturities for T-bills are usually 91 days, 182 days, or 52 weeks. Treasury bills are sold at a discount from face value and do not pay interest before maturity. The interest is the difference between the purchase price of the bill and the amount that is paid to you either at maturity (this amount is the face value) or when you sell the bill prior to maturity.
A debt security backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government with a maturity of one year or less. Very commonly, T bills have a maturity of a few weeks to a few months. They are purchased at a discount and then redeemed for par; T bills do not pay interest. For example, an investor may purchase a $5,000 bill for $4,500. While he/she will not earn any coupon payments, he/she will receive $5,000 in no more than a year. They are low-risk, low-return investments. Private investors may purchase T bills in small quantities, but the bulk of the T bill market comes from institutional investors, especially banks. See also: Treasury note, Treasury bond.