Variable rate bonds have a floating or variable interest rate, or coupon rate. The rate adjusts according to a predetermined formula outlined in the bond's prospectus or official statement. Variable rate bonds' market values fluctuate less than other bonds.
Taxable and Tax-Free Variable Rates
Variable rate bonds, or loans made by issuers to bondholders, or lenders, may yield taxable or tax-free coupon interest. Coupon interest must be paid to lenders twice per year. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, low interest coupon bonds make variable rate bonds more appealing to investors.
Variable Rate Demand Notes, a kind of variable rate bond, are long-term tax-free securities with a variable interest rate that may be returned at par value with one to seven days' notice to the issuer. Lenders provide their funds to valuable public projects.
Build America Bonds
Build America Bonds (BABs), issued by municipal governments, may have a variable rate coupon interest structure. These bonds, according to Internal Revenue Service, bear taxable interest.
Floating Coupon Interest
Variable rate bonds' coupon interest adjusts in accordance with an external barometer or index value. Some examples of coupon interest adjusters include foreign exchange rates or a variety of bond indices.
Interest Rate Trends
According to Eaton Vance Investment Managers, interest rates have steadily declined for 30 years as of 2010. Variable rate bonds help to preserve bond values if investors want to convert bonds to cash before maturity.
- Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco: Variable Rate
- Internal Revenue Service: Variable Rate
- Financial Industry Regulatory Authority
- TreasuryDirect. "Treasury Bonds: Rates & Terms." Accessed Aug. 27, 2020.
- U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. "Interest Rate Risk—When Interest Rates Go Up, Prices of Fixed-Rate Bonds Fall." Accessed Aug. 27, 2020.
Laura Lemay started writing in 1996. She has published articles on Luxist, Paw Nation, StyleList, Gadling, Urlesque, Asylum, BloggingStocks and other websites. Lemay also worked at "Ladies Home Journal" and "Institutional Investor." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Smith College and a Master of Arts in education from Virginia Tech.