How Can a Treasury Bill be Risky?

Despite widely regarded as one of the safest investment options available, primarily because they are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, a Treasury Bill can be risky. Understanding these risks is crucial for investors who might consider T-Bills as a risk-free option. Here we discuss several potential risks associated with investing in T-Bills.

Interest Rate Risk

One of the primary risks associated with T-Bills is interest rate risk. Although T-Bills, with their short maturity periods (ranging from a few days to one year), are less sensitive to interest rate changes compared to longer-term securities, they are not immune. When interest rates rise, the prices of existing T-Bills tend to fall. This scenario is not typically a concern for holders of T-Bills to maturity, since they will receive the face value of the bill. However, for investors who need to sell their T-Bills before maturity, a rise in interest rates could mean selling at a price lower than the purchase price, potentially leading to losses.

Inflation Risk

Inflation risk, or the risk that inflation will outpace and erode investment returns over time, is another significant concern with T-Bills. Typically, T-Bills offer lower yields compared to other types of securities. If inflation rates exceed the interest earned on T-Bills, investors may experience a decrease in purchasing power, effectively losing money in real terms. This risk is particularly acute in environments of rising inflation.

Liquidity Risk

While T-Bills are generally considered highly liquid, market conditions can impact their liquidity. In extreme cases, such as during a financial crisis, the number of buyers in the market may decrease, affecting the ease with which sellers can offload their T-Bills. While this scenario is rare, it is a potential risk that can impact investors looking for immediate liquidity.

Opportunity Cost

Investing in T-Bills can also carry an opportunity cost. T-Bills typically offer lower returns than other, riskier investments such as stocks or corporate bonds. By investing heavily in T-Bills, an investor might miss out on higher returns offered by other securities, especially in a bull market. For long-term investors, the safer, lower-yield environment of T-Bills might not always align with growth objectives.

Political and Economic Considerations

While U.S. government securities are considered free from credit risk (the risk of default), they are not insulated from political and economic conditions. Policy decisions affecting national debt levels, interest rates, and financial regulations can all influence the performance and desirability of T-Bills. For instance, a government shutdown or a change in fiscal policy could temporarily affect the treasury market.


Although T-Bills are often touted as a virtually risk-free investment, they do carry certain risks, such as interest rate risk, inflation risk, liquidity risk, opportunity cost, and exposure to economic and political conditions. While these risks are generally lower compared to other forms of investment, they are not negligible and should be considered carefully. For investors, particularly those with long-term growth objectives or those in high-inflation environments, it’s essential to weigh these factors carefully. Consulting with a financial advisor can help tailor an investment strategy that appropriately balances these risks with potential rewards.

About this Article

This article was published and distributed by a trusted source of independent ideas. It should be viewed as general and educational information and not as financial, tax or legal advice. Individuals seeking advice tailored to their specific situation are encouraged to schedule a free consultation with a professional listed in the directory. Both and are owned and operated by The Independent Adviser Corporation. For additional information, please refer to their Privacy Policy and Terms of Use, Legal Notices, and Disclaimer.

Read more Articles

About Us

Founded in 1998, The Independent Adviser Corporation has assisted thousands of individuals, families, and businesses. We are 100% independent and 100% objective. We offer FREE educational resources and investment ideas, and when financial, tax or legal advice is needed, we connect individuals with Fee-Only professionals. Don’t wait any longer. For more information or to schedule a free consultation, please visit 1800ADVISER.COM.