You have a relative or close friend in jail, and the judge has set bail. Because of your close relationship with the person who is accused of a crime, you've agreed to guarantee something of value that you own in return for getting a bail bond. The bail bond allows the person charged with a crime to stay outside of jail while awaiting trial, but they must reappear for the trial or what you've put up as collateral will be forfeited.

With that in mind, how do you decide what to use for collateral? Each bonding office will have specifics on what they accept, but there are common items that most bail bondsman will take as collateral if you don't have cash or credit for paying the bond. Here are the pros and cons of different types of collateral.

Real Estate

A home, land or a commercial building that you own free and clear -- in other words, there's no mortgage -- can be used for collateral. Choosing real estate as collateral is a good option if you can offer it as a "premium," which means you'll pay the bail bonds provider their fee -- usually 10 percent of the bond's value -- at the end of the trial process. 

You will have to have the title or deed to the property, and that will remain with the bondsman or with the court. The downside, as with any collateral, is that if the accused doesn't show up for trial, the property will be sold to pay the bond. If you're using your home for this, you could be in trouble.

Movable Property 

Valuable items like cars, trucks, boats, motorhomes or RVs can be used as collateral. They will have to be produced along with a clear title and will remain with the bondsman or court until the trial. If, after the trial, you can't pay the bond company's fee any other way, the movable property will be sold.


Jewelry and artwork can sometimes be used as collateral, but there may be a delay in getting the bond issued while the bondsman has the potential collateral item assessed. Firearms, especially collectables, may also be accepted. Once the valuable item has been determined to be worth at least the price of the bond, it will be kept in a secure place by the bond company or the court. 


Your television, computers, video game consoles, mobile devices or stereo equipment could be used as collateral. The problem is that these are generally assessed a very low value by most bondsmen so you either need several items or have a low bond to pay for. These will be held by the bond company or court while the case proceeds. Generally, the cost to replace these items will be much larger than the value assigned to them, so they're not an ideal option.

Stocks and Bonds

Financial assets can often be used as collateral, but it can add time to the process of getting a bond. The value of the stocks, bonds or other investments have to be determined. In some cases the investments can be left with your financial advisor; in other cases, you'll be advised to sell the investments and use the cash to purchase the bond.

Talk to your bail bondsman and ask what types of collateral they prefer. They will most likely be willing to work with you and accept anything of value for your collateral, if state and local regulations permit them to do so. For more help, have a peek at this site.