Types of Bond Fund Yields and What They Mean

What’s a 30-day SEC yield? A trailing 12-month yield? A yield to maturity? We explain what each measure says about an income fund.

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Now that bonds offer decent yields, investors have been barreling into fixed-income mutual and exchange-traded funds. Taxable bond funds and ETFs pulled in net inflows (the sum of money deposited minus money that’s withdrawn) of $143 billion over the first three months of 2024, a near-record. 

But the array of bond fund yields can be confusing for investors trying to add a fund to their portfolio. In late March, for instance, the Schwab 1-5 Year Corporate Bond ETF (symbol SCHJ) boasted a 30-day SEC yield of 5.11%, a trailing 12- month or distribution yield of 3.16%, and a 5.28% yield to maturity. “If you look at all three, they can help create an overall picture of a bond fund,” says D.J. Tierney, a senior investment portfolio strategist at Charles Schwab Asset Management. 

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Nellie S. Huang
Senior Associate Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Nellie joined Kiplinger in August 2011 after a seven-year stint in Hong Kong. There, she worked for the Wall Street Journal Asia, where as lifestyle editor, she launched and edited Scene Asia, an online guide to food, wine, entertainment and the arts in Asia. Prior to that, she was an editor at Weekend Journal, the Friday lifestyle section of the Wall Street Journal Asia. Kiplinger isn't Nellie's first foray into personal finance: She has also worked at SmartMoney (rising from fact-checker to senior writer), and she was a senior editor at Money.