Types of Bonds

5paisa Research Team Date: 10 Apr, 2024 06:18 PM IST

Types of Bonds

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Bonds are a popular form of investment because they offer regular income, capital preservation, and diversification benefits. It is a loan agreement between a borrower and a lender. When an entity or an individual buys a bond, they lend money to the issuer for a specific period. 

The issuer promises to repay the amount at the end of the term with an agreed-upon interest rate. This article discusses different types of bonds in India, their features, advantages, limitations, and things to consider before investing.

What are the Types of Bonds?

Types of Bonds refer to different categories of bonds based on their issuer, maturity period, and interest rate. One can classify bonds into various types depending on their characteristics and market conditions. Some common types of bonds are treasury, fixed and floating rate, corporate, high-yield, zero-coupon, and many more.

The risk and reward trade-off differs for each type of bond in finance. Understanding all types of bonds is essential to select the best option. 

List of Different Types of Bonds

Listed below are the 10 types of bonds. 

1.    Treasury Bonds
The central government issues treasury bonds. Hence, it is the safest type of bond because there is no credit risk. These bonds have a maturity period of ten to thirty years and pay a fixed interest rate, which is a factor in the prevailing market conditions.

2.    Municipal Bonds
Local and state governments use these to gather funds for development projects such as schools, highways, and hospitals. Municipal Bonds are exempted from tax. They are available in both short-term and long-term maturities.

3.    Corporate Bonds
Companies or business conglomerates issue corporate bonds to raise capital for their business operations. They are riskier than treasury bonds because the creditworthiness of the issuing company backs them. Corporate bonds can have varying maturities and interest rates, depending on the issuer's creditworthiness and market conditions.

4.    High-yield Bonds
Companies issue high-yield bonds with lower credit ratings and are riskier than investment-grade bonds. They offer a higher yield to compensate for the higher risk. High-yield bonds are also known as junk bonds.

5.    Mortgage-Backed Securities
Real estate companies create mortgage-backed securities by pooling many mortgages and issuing bonds against the underlying mortgage pool. The cash flow from the mortgages backs these securities, so they are safer than corporate bonds because they carry less credit risk.

6.    Floating Rate Bonds
Floating rate bonds have an interest rate adjusted periodically based on a reference rate, such as the Reserve Bank of India's repo rate. It protects investors from interest rate risk because the rates move with prevailing market rates. The interest rate of these bonds is subject to market fluctuations and macroeconomic parameters.

7.    Zero-Coupon Bonds
Zero-coupon bonds are issued at a discount to their face value and do not pay periodic interest. Instead, they offer a fixed return at maturity, i.e., the difference between the issue price and face value. They are ideal for investors who want to lock in a fixed return for a specific period.

8.    Callable Bonds
The issuer can redeem callable bonds before maturity, usually at a premium price. They offer the issuer flexibility in managing their debt obligations but carry reinvestment risk for the investor.

9.    Convertible Bonds
The issuing company can convert these bonds into shares of the issuing company's stock at a pre-determined conversion ratio. They offer the investor the potential for capital appreciation and fixed income.

10.    Inflation-Protected Bonds
The government issues inflation-protected bonds intending to protect investors from inflation. They pay a fixed interest rate, which is adjusted periodically to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index.

Besides the above, borrowers structure the 5 types of bond products that suit their objectives and are attractive to investors. 

Features of Bonds

Bonds come with several features that distinguish them from other forms of investment. 

A.    Interest Rate: The interest rate is the coupon the bond issuer pays the bondholder. Typically, it is a fixed percentage of the face value of the bond and is paid out periodically over the bond’s life.

B.    Maturity date: The maturity date refers to the redemption date, and the bond issuer must repay the bond's principal amount to the bondholder. It is the date on which the bond "matures."

C.    Face value: The face value is the amount the bond issuer will pay the bondholder at maturity. It is also known as the par value of the bond.

D.    Yield: The yield is the rate of return on a bond. It is a percentage of the bond's current market price. It considers both the coupon rate and the bond's current market price.

E.    Credit rating: Credit rating agencies assign a bond rating based on the issuer's creditworthiness. This rating reflects the likelihood that the issuer will default on its bond payments.

F.    Liquidity: Bonds can be bought and sold in the secondary market so that investors can sell their bonds before maturity. The liquidity of a bond refers to the ease with which it can be bought or sold in the secondary market.

Advantages of Bonds

There are various types of bonds to invest in, each with pros and cons. Bonds are a stable investment option for risk-averse investors due to the dependability of interest and principal returns. Some of these advantages include the following.

1.    Steady income: Bonds typically provide a fixed income source through periodic interest payments. This feature makes bonds an attractive option for investors seeking regular income.

2.    Diversification: Bonds offer an opportunity to diversify an investor's portfolio. They tend to have a low correlation with other asset classes, such as equities and can help reduce overall portfolio risk.

3.    Lower risk: They are less risky than equities since they have a higher priority of payment if the issuer defaults. Bondholders are also typically paid back before equity holders are in liquidation.

4.    Predictability: Bonds have a fixed term and interest rate, making them predictable investments. This predictability can be especially attractive for investors seeking a stable, low-risk investment.

5.    Issuer flexibility: They can be issued in various forms and terms, allowing issuers flexibility in raising capital. Bonds are customisable and meet the specific needs of the issuer, such as funding long-term projects or managing short-term cash needs.

Limitations of Bonds

Despite their many advantages, bonds also have some limitations.

1.    Interest rate risk: Generally, bond prices tend to fall when the interest rate increases. It means that if an investor needs to sell their bond before maturity, they may have to sell at a loss. This risk is particularly relevant in a rising interest rate environment.

2.    Inflation risk: While bonds provide a steady income stream, inflation can erode the value of that income over time. It means that investors may end up with less purchasing power.

3.    Credit risk: Bonds are only as good as the issuer’s creditworthiness. If the issuer defaults, bondholders may not receive their entire principal and interest payments. One can mitigate the risk by investing in bonds with higher credit ratings, but this generally comes at the cost of lower yields.

4.    Liquidity risk: Some bonds may be difficult to sell quickly, especially if they do not trade frequently. It can be a problem for investors who must sell their bonds before maturity.

5.    Limited potential for capital appreciation: While some bonds may experience capital appreciation, the potential for price gains is generally limited. Investors looking for significant capital appreciation may need to consider other investments.

Things to Consider Before Investing in Bonds

Before investing in bonds, there are several factors that investors should consider.

1.    Credit Rating: The bond issuer's credit rating is a crucial factor to consider as it shows the issuer's creditworthiness and repayment capacity. Higher credit ratings indicate lower default risk but may also offer lower yields.

2.    Interest Rates: Interest rates significantly impact bond prices. Bond prices tend to fall when the interest rate rises, and vice versa. Investors should consider the current interest rate environment when making investment decisions.

3.    Maturity: Bonds with longer maturities generally offer higher yields but carry more risk as they are more sensitive to interest rate changes. Conversely, short-term bonds offer lower returns but are less susceptible to interest rate changes.

4.    Yield: A bond's yield is the return an investor will receive on their investment. Higher yields generally indicate higher risk. Investors should consider the yield with the credit rating and other factors.

5.    Liquidity: Some bonds are more liquid than others, meaning they can be easily bought and sold. Less liquid bonds may be harder to sell and require a more extended holding period.

6.    Tax implications: Investors should also consider the tax implications of investing in bonds, as the interest income may be subject to taxes.

These factors assist investors in making informed decisions when investing in bonds.

How to invest in bonds in India?

Investors can buy through various channels, including banks, post offices, online trading platforms, and mutual fund companies. Before investing, it is essential to research the five types of bonds and their associated risks and returns.

Investors should also consider their investment goals, risk tolerance, and horizon. Bonds offer a steady stream of income and diversification benefits to a portfolio.


In conclusion, bonds are a crucial part of the global financial system, providing a means for governments, corporations, and other entities to raise capital. There are various types of bonds, from government and municipal bonds to corporate and high-yield bonds. Each bond type has its advantages and risks, and investors and issuers should carefully consider these factors when deciding which bonds to invest in or issue. 

Despite the risks, bonds remain a popular investment choice for those seeking steady income, diversification, and lower risk, making them an important asset class in any well-diversified portfolio.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Bonds are debt securities issued by governments, local authorities, companies, or other entities to raise capital. Investors buy bonds and receive periodic interest payments over a set period. After the investment period, the bond matures, and the borrower repays the principal. 

The most popular types of bonds include fixed-and floating-rate bonds, zero-coupon bonds,  government securities bonds, and corporate and treasury bonds.

An example of a bond is a government bond, such as Treasury Bills and Government Bonds, with the Indian government's backing, complete faith, and credit.

There are several ways to buy bonds, including purchasing them through a broker or financial advisor, buying them directly from the issuer, or investing in bond mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Before buying bonds, you must research the issuer's creditworthiness and evaluate the bond's risk and return characteristics to make an informed investment decision.

Bonds are a safe investment because the issuer promise to repay the borrowed funds with interest. However, there are still risks associated with bonds, such as credit risk, interest rate risk, and inflation risk. It's important to evaluate these risks before investing in bonds.

The safest type of bonds is generally considered government bonds issued by stable and financially sound governments, backed by the government's ability to tax its citizens and print currency.

Bonds that mature within seven to ten years are intermediate-term bonds. These bonds balance shorter-term bonds with lower yields and longer-term bonds with higher yields but greater interest rate risk. They can be a suitable option for investors seeking a moderate level of risk and return.

A bond with a fixed interest rate, also known as a fixed-rate bond, means that the interest rate for the entire bond duration remains the same. This type of bond provides predictable cash flows for investors. 

The repayment done by a traditional bond is also known as the principal, face value, or par value. It is the amount that the bond issuer agrees to pay the bondholder at maturity, in addition to any interest payments made over the bond's term.

Medium-term bonds typically have a maturity period of between two and ten years. It is suitable for investors seeking a balance between the steady income of short-term bonds and the potential for higher yields of long-term bonds.