The request for purchase in the United States Series I Savings Bonds this week has been so great that it has temporarily blocked the Treasury website where these bonds are purchased. This could mean that some investors’ requests may not be processed in time to lock in the bond’s 9.62% rate by the October 28 deadline.
TreasuryDirect.gov alerted users to the possibility on Thursday, citing “unprecedented” volumes. “We cannot guarantee that your bond purchase will be completed before this deadline if your account or purchase requires additional customer support for issues such as identity verification.”
The Treasury said on Thursday it has since resolved the underlying technical issues and more than doubled the site’s connectivity capacity to enable more customers to create accounts and purchase bonds successfully. But, a Treasury official noted that there could still be intermittent problems depending on traffic over the next two days.
To give an idea of the magnitude of the increase in traffic, the official said: “Over the last few days of the pricing window, TreasuryDirect.gov has gone from having an average number of concurrent visitors of a few thousand to being l one of the most visited federal government websites.
The historically high rate on the I’m bound, which is determined by a formula based in part on changes to the Consumer price index, resets every six months. It is planned to do so next on November 1.
It’s no surprise that demand for inflation-protected savings bonds has skyrocketed over the past week, given that it’s virtually impossible to find an investment that offers a 9.62% return these days, not to mention a “safe” return.
However, there are restrictions on the amount you can invest in an I Bond. Individuals can only buy up to $10,000 in I Bonds electronically in a calendar year. (For married couples, each spouse can purchase their own I Bond for a total investment per year of up to $20,000.) Plus, you can buy up to $5,000 of paper I Bond if you use your federal tax refund to buy it.
The grip with I Bonds, which you can keep for up to 30 years, is this: You can’t cash it in the first year. And to get the full amount of interest, you need to hold the bond for at least five years. Otherwise, you will sacrifice three months of interest.
Thus, even if it is not a liquid investment Right now, it’s a good place to stash money you won’t need for the next 12 months, if only to preserve purchasing power in today’s high inflation environment.