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Zero-Coupon Bond


A zero-coupon bond is a type of debt security that does not pay interest (coupon) to its holder during its tenure. Instead, it is issued at a significant discount to its face value, which the investor receives upon the bond’s maturity. The difference between the purchase price and the face value represents the bond holder’s return on investment.


The phonetics of the keyword “Zero-Coupon Bond” can be represented as follows:Zero: /ˈzɪəroʊ/Coupon: /ˈkuːpɒn/Bond: /bɒnd/

Key Takeaways

  1. A zero-coupon bond does not pay any regular interest to the bondholder, as it’s sold at a significant discount to the face value. The difference between the purchase price and the face value represents the bondholder’s return.
  2. Since zero-coupon bonds do not generate periodic interest payments, they are suited for investors who are looking for long-term investments and do not require a steady income. The gains are realized upon the bond’s maturity, making it ideal for retirement planning and other goals with a known time horizon.
  3. Zero-coupon bonds are subject to higher price volatility compared to bonds that make regular interest payments. The absence of interest payment also increases interest rate risk. However, they are free from reinvestment risk since the interest is automatically compounded, allowing investors to know the exact amount they will receive at maturity.


The Zero-Coupon Bond is an important financial term because it represents a unique type of bond that does not pay periodic interest to its investors, but instead is issued at a significant discount to its face value. This allows the investor to receive a lump sum payment upon its maturity rather than a stream of regular coupon payments throughout the bond’s life. Such bonds appeal to investors who prefer to minimize reinvestment risk, have a low tolerance for interest rate fluctuations, and seek guaranteed, long-term returns. Additionally, zero-coupon bonds assist companies and governments in managing their future cash flow needs without the worry of ongoing interest payment obligations. Overall, these bonds play a crucial role in providing financial flexibility and strategic investment opportunities for both issuers and investors.


Zero-coupon bonds serve a unique purpose in the world of finance and investment. Essentially, these bonds are debt securities that do not pay periodic interest payments, or coupons, to bondholders. Instead, zero-coupon bonds are issued at a significant discount to their face value and redeemed at maturity for the full face value. The primary purpose of these bonds is to offer investors a means of locking in a long-term investment for a predictable lump sum payoff, as well as capital appreciation from the discount to the face value. This makes zero-coupon bonds an excellent choice for individuals or institutions looking to safeguard their investments for future expenses, such as college tuition, retirement, or long-term projects, without the need to manage or reinvest intermittent interest payments. Another advantage of zero-coupon bonds lies in their tax-efficient nature. Since the bonds do not pay interest until maturity, investors can defer taxes on the interest income until they receive the payoff at maturity. Additionally, because these bonds are usually government-issued, they often carry lower credit risk, making them a safe investment for conservative investors. Zero-coupon bonds also exhibit a higher level of sensitivity to interest rate fluctuations, making them an ideal instrument for traders seeking to capitalize on changing interest rates. Overall, zero-coupon bonds offer a unique investment option catering to the diverse financial needs of investors, ranging from conservative fixed-income portfolios to more aggressive interest rate plays, ensuring a secure and predictable financial return.


1. U.S. Treasury Bills: Treasury Bills (T-Bills) are considered to be one of the most well-known examples of zero-coupon bonds. These are short-term debt instruments issued by the U.S. government, typically maturing in 4, 13, 26, or 52 weeks. When you invest in a T-Bill, you purchase it at a discount to its face value, and upon maturity, you receive the full face value amount. There is no periodic interest payment, and the difference between the purchase price and face value serves as the investor’s return. 2. Corporate Zero-Coupon Bonds: Some corporations also issue zero-coupon bonds to raise capital for their business ventures. As an investor, you would purchase these bonds at a discounted price and receive the full face value upon maturity. Corporate zero-coupon bonds are riskier than government-backed options due to the potential for default by the issuing corporation. However, they usually offer higher returns to compensate for this increased level of risk. 3. Zero-Coupon Municipal Bonds: Local governments like cities and states can issue zero-coupon municipal bonds to fund infrastructure projects, such as building schools or highways. These bonds generally have longer maturities and are exempt from federal taxes (and potentially state and local taxes as well). Like other zero-coupon bonds, you would purchase them at a discount and receive the full face value upon maturity, with the difference being the investor’s tax-exempt return. One popular type of zero-coupon municipal bond is the Build America Bond, introduced by the U.S. government in 2009 as a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to stimulate the economy.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a Zero-Coupon Bond?
A zero-coupon bond is a type of debt security that does not pay regular interest or periodic coupons to its investors. Instead, it is sold at a discount to its face value and thereby provides a return through capital appreciation, as the bondholder receives the full face value at maturity.
How do zero-coupon bonds differ from regular bonds?
While regular bonds pay periodic interest (coupon) to their investors, zero-coupon bonds do not. Zero-coupon bonds pay the bondholder the full face value at maturity, ultimately providing a return through the initial discounted purchase price.
When do zero-coupon bonds typically mature?
Zero-coupon bonds can have various maturities, ranging from short-term (a few months) to long-term (several years or even decades). The maturity depends on the specific bond and issuer.
How are zero-coupon bonds priced?
The price of a zero-coupon bond is determined by discounting its face value, using a predetermined interest rate. The interest rate is inversely related to the price of the bond; as interest rates rise, the price of zero-coupon bonds falls, and vice versa.
Are zero-coupon bond returns taxable?
In most countries, zero-coupon bond returns are subject to tax. However, tax treatment may vary depending on the investor’s tax jurisdiction and specific bond. Generally, the bondholder is taxed on the imputed interest earned on the bond, even though they do not receive regular interest payments.
How do zero-coupon bond yields work?
The yield on a zero-coupon bond is calculated by considering the bond’s purchase price, face value, and number of years until maturity. Yield-to-maturity is the most commonly used measurement and represents the effective annual rate of return the investor will earn if the bond is held until maturity.
Who would typically invest in zero-coupon bonds?
Zero-coupon bonds can be a suitable investment for individuals or institutions seeking a long-term, fixed-income instrument with minimal reinvestment risk. These bonds are also suitable for investors who prefer capital appreciation over regular interest payments and for those seeking a guaranteed return at a specific future date.

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