Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Fixed Income Securities (Bonds): Bond Ratings

Print Resources at NYPL

What are Bond Ratings?

A bond rating is a way to measure the creditworthiness of a bond, the ability of the issuer to pay interest and principal to the bondholder, which corresponds to the cost of borrowing for an issuer. These ratings typically assign a letter grade to bonds that indicates their credit quality.

There are three major independent bond rating services:

  • Standard & Poor's
  • Fitch Rating Services
  • Moody's Investor Services

Ratings services assign ratings on a letter grade from one to three letters, from AAA (triple A), the highest, to D. A security with a rating of BB or lower is considered to be speculative and a risky investment; these are also known as junk bonds. In general, the higher a bond's rating, the lower its interest rate.

Electronic Resources at NYPL