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Types of Bonds

What Are High-Yield Bonds?

All bonds are debt securities issued by organizations to raise capital for various purposes. When you buy a bond, you lend your money to the entity that issues it. In return for the loan of your funds, the issuer agrees to pay you interest and ultimately to return the face value (principal) when the bond matures or is called, at a specified date in the future known as the “maturity date” or “call date.”

High-yield bonds are issued by organizations that do not qualify for “investment-grade” ratings by one of the leading credit rating agencies—Moody’s Investors Service, Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services and Fitch Ratings. Credit rating agencies evaluate issuers and assign ratings based on their opinions of the issuer’s ability to pay interest and principal as scheduled. Those issuers with a greater risk of default—not paying interest or principal in a timely manner—are rated below investment grade. These issuers must pay a higher interest rate to attract investors to buy their bonds and to compensate them for the risks associated with investing in organizations of lower credit quality. Organizations that issue high-yield debt include many different types of U.S. corporations, certain U.S. banks, various foreign governments and a few foreign corporations.1

1High-yield bonds issued by foreign governments and foreign corporations will not be addressed within the scope of this booklet, which will primarily focus on high-yield bonds issued by U.S. corporations.


All information and opinions contained in this publication were produced by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association from our membership and other sources believed by the Association to be accurate and reliable. By providing this general information, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association makes neither a recommendation as to the appropriateness of investing in fixed-income securities nor is it providing any specific investment advice for any particular investor. Due to rapidly changing market conditions and the complexity of investment decisions, supplemental information and sources may be required to make informed investment decisions.