PSA to readers who have been on a U.S. Treasury I Savings Bond kick lately, as I have – you can purchase 2023 I bonds at treasurydirect.gov at the current new I bonds rate of 5.27%. If you’re not familiar with them, see my I bonds overview for a primer on what they are and important details of note. Each year, the maximum amount of I bonds that you can purchase during a given calendar year resets on January 1. At this rate (and with rates updated every 6 months to match current inflation rates), I bonds can be a piece of the bigger personal finance puzzle for keeping up with and beating inflation. However, I bond rates have dipped over recent highs and are now similar to other low-risk fixed-rate investment alternatives, so there are reasons to consider not buying new I bonds and maybe even closing your I bonds in the near future.
How Much in I Bonds Can You Purchase?
It depends on how you purchase I bonds, but the basic annual maximums per individual set by the U.S. government are the following:
- Individual Digital I Bond Purchase: can buy $10,000 per calendar year, per account holder, in digital I bonds through the U.S. Department of Treasury at treasurydirect.gov. Individuals with a Social Security number can have 1 account each. Must be 18+ to buy.
- Individual Paper I Bond Purchase: can buy up to $5,000 per Social Security number in literal paper bonds through the IRS as a form of tax refund payment using IRS Form 8888 (joint filers can purchase for each of the 2 filers) when you submit your tax return.
- Living Trust Digital I Bond Purchase: living trusts can purchase up to $10,000 per year through the trust on treasurydirect.gov.
Hypothetically, an individual could buy up to $15,000 per calendar year in I bonds, or a couple could buy up to $30,000 per year. Adding trusts could boost those totals.
How Long is the Current I Bond Rate Good for After Purchase?
As I highlighted in my new I bond rate post:
You receive the I bond variable rate for 6 months from the date of issue. Rates are compounded semiannually. For example, an I bond purchased in December of 2023 would get the 3.97% APR variable rate until June of 2024, at which point the variable rate would switch to the April, 2024 variable rate for the subsequent 6 months (in addition to the 1.30% fixed rate). The next variable rate change for that bond would be December, 2024, when the May, 2024 rate would kick in for 6 months.
Here’s a chart with more specifics:
|I Bond Month of Issue||New Rates Take Effect|
|January||January 1 & July 1|
|February||February 1 & August 1|
|March||March 1 & September 1|
|April||April 1 & October 1|
|May||May 1 & November 1|
|June||June 1 & December 1|
|July||July 1 & January 1|
|August||August 1 & February 1|
|September||September 1 & March 1|
|October||October 1 & April 1|
|November||November 1 & May 1|
|December||December 1 & June 1|
How to Buy I Bonds Online
Once you have an established account at treasurydirect.gov and have linked a funding bank source, the I bond purchase process is fairly simple (despite the website looking very primitive):
- Click on the “BuyDirect” tab.
- Under the “Savings Bonds” section, select “Series I”.
- Select your funding source (should already be there if purchased previously) and enter the amount you would like to purchase.
- The purchase officially takes place on the next business day and the new issue will show in your account once complete.
That’s it. If you purchase $10,000 now for 2023, you’re done for the year in terms of digital I bond purchases. If, hypothetically, you purchased another I bond issue in January of 2024, you would get the variable I bond rate announced November 1, 2023 from the date of purchase in January until July of 2024.
Before purchasing, please thoroughly research what you’re buying and take note of early withdrawal penalties, issue duration, how the rates work, and other important details in the articles that I’ve linked to above. This article is not investment advice and I’m not an advisor – as always, do your own research.