That’s compared to $364 million in bond sales in all of 2020.
If you have money earning a little more than 1 percent, and if that’s a lot, bonds are an attractive deal. Many callers to ASK-POST (855-275-7678), my toll-free line, are asking about I bonds.
There are a few things you should know before buying a bond.
– You must create an account on TreasuryDirect.gov to buy bonds.
The interest rate on the new Category 1 savings bonds is 9.62 percent until October 2022.
Individuals can only purchase up to $10,000 of I-Bonds each calendar year. If your purchase exceeds this limit, it can take up to 16 weeks for Treasury to process your refund. (You can also buy up to $5,000 in paper bonds using your federal income tax refund.)
You pay the face value of the bond. For example, you pay $25 for a $25 bond.
– You cannot cash the insurance bond for at least one year. If you cashed the bond five years ago, you will lose the interest of the previous three months.
You have to pay federal income taxes on interest.
Now, here’s a step-by-step guide to buying I bonds, which starts with creating an account on TreasuryDirect.gov.
1. Be patient. seriously. The website says it takes 10 minutes to set up the account. Maybe for some people if all goes well. It wasn’t the case for me and my husband. It took me 20 minutes to complete the initial setup, and eventually, I wasn’t able to create an account online (more on that later.) It took my husband about 30 minutes with a snafu game on his side. If there is a problem or you make a mistake, the process of fixing it is frustrating and outdated.
2. Go to TreasuryDirect.gov. Under “Account Login”, click the link to open an account. If you are not sure how to navigate Operation, take a guided tour. I also recommend watching the video on how to create an account. A lot of readers said they had problems creating their account and are now having trouble reaching a live person to help them figure out what went wrong.
3. To set up an account, you will need a Taxpayer Identification Number, such as your Social Security number. You must also have an address in the United States. You need an email address. You are required to provide at least one phone number.
4. There is a section for adding your bank information, which is the account you will use to purchase the bonds. It must be a checking or savings account. Triple-check this part before you hit submit. Get this wrong, you will be transported back a few decades to a system that cannot handle online change. (More on this later).
5. You’ll go through several additional steps to set up your account, including creating a password, choosing a custom picture, and defining some security questions. Make sure to choose a strong password and security questions that cannot be obtained from searching your social media accounts. If you post a lot about your Goldie or your beloved hero dog, don’t choose that as an answer to your security question: What is the name of your first pet?
6. Once your account is created, you will receive an email containing your TreasuryDirect account number. When you log into your account for the first time, you will get a one-time passcode sent to your email. Make sure the image you selected appears. At the end, you will enter the password you specified.
7. If you have successfully created an account, you can purchase the bonds electronically by transferring money from a checking or savings account.
My husband entered the checking account number by mistake when we wanted the money to come from a savings account. You cannot correct account information online. You must print a bank change form to release an existing bank in your TreasuryDirect account.
If that isn’t frustrating enough, sign the paper form in ‘an authorized certifier available at a bank, trust company, or credit union and mail it to us for processing’. Ugh!
I have checked all my information three times, however I could not create a TreasuryDirect account. Instead, I received an email that said in part: “We are having difficulty verifying the information you provided when opening your account. We were not provided with any information regarding issues with account verification.”
Now I have to go through some Byzantine processes to finish setting up my account. The Treasury says for my protection, I must complete an account authorization form, sign it at a bank “in the presence of a certification officer” and mail it to the Treasury mailbox in Minneapolis.
Yes, we want high security. Still what a silly snag for people just trying to grow their money. Security update for good.
“We are working on changes that would allow for documentation — rather than an endorsement or guarantee — of the applicant’s signature on the TreasuryDirect Account Authorization Form (FS Form 5444),” a Treasury spokesperson emailed.
Here’s some good news. If you’re having trouble setting up an account, you can buy I bonds until October 28 and you’ll still get an interest rate of 9.62 percent for six months.