HomeBlogInvestmentRush to buy I bonds overwhelms Treasury website

Rush to buy I bonds overwhelms Treasury website

The TreasuryDirect website is facing long delays as Americans race to buy U.S. Series I savings bonds before rates reset at the end of the month. 

One of this year’s best-performing investments, I bonds currently offer a 9.62% interest rate, as they’re designed to help protect Americans’ savings from inflation. That rate is expected to drop to 6.47% beginning Nov. 1, but those who buy before the Oct. 28 deadline will lock in the higher rate for the next six months. 

Investors trying to buy the bonds reported glitches in creating accounts, delays in loading pages and long wait times when calling the helplines. And with only two days left to lock in the higher rate, every hour counts. 

[More: As markets slide, more advisers are sending clients to I bonds]

A notice on the website reads: “We are currently experiencing unprecedented requests for new accounts and purchases of I Bonds. Due to these volumes, we cannot guarantee customers will be able to complete a purchase by the October 28th deadline for the current rate.”

John Powell, a management consultant in Texas, tried to create a username and password through TreasuryDirect but the page stopped working and wouldn’t load. After trying five more times, he called the helpline and got a voicemail saying that because of the high volume of requests, they were no longer accepting calls. 

“It’s frustrating, and it seems as though it’s really indicative of the government to have a lackluster website that is inefficient,” he said. 

Powell decided to buy I bonds after striking up a conversation with a stranger at a Southern Methodist University football game, who recommended them. 

“You’re trying to find somewhat of a safe haven for your cash where inflation is not going to eat away at it,” Powell said. “I bonds are great, and you only have a couple days left to lock in the good rates.”

SCRAMBLE FOR YIELD  

“Due to high traffic, the TreasuryDirect website has experienced  intermittent service issues today,” John Rizzo, senior spokesperson for the Department of the Treasury, said in a statement. “We are in the process of adding to the system’s capacity and taking other steps in the hopes of resolving the issues quickly.”

For Jason Gardner in Columbus, Ohio, the process of buying I bonds for his son took six hours Wednesday. “You’d never think a bond website could have this many issues,” he said. 

It was such a slow process that Gardner started to think his internet connection wasn’t working. Eventually he tried to find the contact info for TreasuryDirect online but couldn’t, so he tweeted at them. His purchase for $10,000 finally went through after hours of waiting. 

“I was just thinking I hope I don’t miss out,” Gardner said. “I haven’t been into I bonds for very long, but the rates are about to reset. I’m going to buy it now and we’ll have 9.62% locked in for six months.”

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