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What is a Callable Bond?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 16, 2024
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A callable bond is a type of debt security that allows the issuer of the bond to retain the privilege of redeeming it at some point before the bond reaches the date of maturity. Generally, the terms of the callable bond will include guidelines of what types of conditions must exist before the callable bond is considered eligible for early redemption. The terms and conditions also often specify a call date that is considered to be the earliest possible date that the bond issuer can buy back the bonds at the call price. Callable bonds are less expensive than non-callable bonds of the same coupon value because the callable bonds can be called before they mature, which allows the issuer to pay out a smaller amount.

What Happens When a Call Occurs

Sometimes referred to as redeemable bonds, callable bonds tend to include provisions that ensure that, in the event of a call date being exercised, the investor will receive all interest that is due up to the date that the call is issued. Along with honoring the rate of interest guaranteed for the duration for the bond, the issuer also usually honors a rate that is slightly above the par and applies it to the interest due. This usually helps to offset the difference between the interest generated up to the call date and the amount of interest that would have accrued if the bond had continued until the original maturity date.

Why a Call Occurs

There is no guarantee that a callable bond will be called before the actual maturity date. Generally, bonds of this type are not called unless economic conditions indicate that an early call is in the best interests of the issuer. For example, the call date option might be exercised if there is a decrease in the interest rate that was applied to the original bond. Under these conditions, it is advantageous for the issuer to recall all bonds, pay them off, then issue new bonds at the lower rate of interest.

Can Be a Good Investment

For the investor, a callable bond is still considered to be a good investment, even with the chance of an early call date. This is because the callable bond tends to have a higher coupon value than non-callable bonds. Therefore, even in the event that a 20-year bond is called after 10 years, for example, the investor still is likely to realize a higher return than with other types of bonds.

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Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including SmartCapitalMind, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By anon132899 — On Dec 08, 2010

Yes. If the rates go down (more specifically very low) than it is just more likely for your bond to be called because it makes sense for the corporation who issued it. You will still receive your interest payments up to the time the bond is called (coupons) and your principal amount (Face value) on the call date.

By mdt — On Mar 09, 2008

This is where you have to look at what the issuer considers to be the face value of the bond, since that is what you will receive above and beyond the interest paid out up to the point of call.

In some instances, the face value is the same as the original purchase price. However, in other instances, the face value is the current value of the bond, either at the time of the call or the point of maturity.

Always clarify this point before purchasing a callable bond.

By anon9447 — On Mar 06, 2008

on a callable bond, if the rates go down are you guaranteed your principal?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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