Clear Instructions on Buying I Bonds: How to navigate the worst website and actually buy I Bonds without spending an hour trying to figure out how to do it
Everyone is talking about it. Up until October 2022, you can buy I bonds at the current rate of 9.62%, which is good for six months.
But navigating the Treasury Direct website is a nightmare. I and others I know have spent hours trying to navigate it, inputting in a ton of information, only to have it say at the end, the system isn’t working now and try again later. You can’t get anyone to answer the phone there or answer an email.
So tonight, I finally was able to open an account. Finally! I must have been attempting it for an hour.
The website is one of the worst websites. There are dozens and dozens of links on a page. And when you click on “How to Buy an I bond,” you don’t see a link that says anything like “Buy an I Bond.”
I don’t normally write about finance, but I want to help you navigate it relatively quickly. Without clear instructions like I’m going to give you, it’s hard to do because the links you need to click on are tiny and they may be in light gray! Other links are in blue, but the link you’re going to be looking for may be in light gray, so you can barely see it. And it doesn’t even say “Buy an I Bond.” To be fair, perhaps the link at one time was in blue, but maybe because I clicked the link at some point before, it is now and has been for the past weeks, in light gray as if the link is grayed out. If the link turned purple once you have clicked on it just once within any time frame, that would be fine. But this link is barely perceptible. OK, enough of my gripes!
Before you try to open an account, have your checking account and routing number and your driver’s license with you as you will need that information to open an account.
On the Treasury Direct homepage, on the left-hand side of the page under the column titled Individuals, click on How to Buy Series I. The new page that pops up is a beast. There is a link there that says “How Can I Buy Bonds.” Click that link. Scroll about half-way down and it will say:
How can I buy I bonds?
- Buy them in electronic form in our online program TreasuryDirect
- Buy them in paper form using your federal income tax refund
Click the first option: Buy them in electronic form in our online program TreasuryDirect.
Once on the Treasury Direct page, about midway down the body of the text, to the right of a bullet point there are four tiny links–all the links are tiny. You want to click on either “Log in Now” or “Open an Account.” Of course, if you’re trying to open an account, you’ll click Open an Account. A new page will open and at the very bottom of the page, click Apply Now. If you already have an account and want to purchase I Bonds, click “Log in Now.” That will take you to a new page titled TreasuryDirect Login. Under that title, is an orange button that says Login. Click that Login button.
With these instructions, this will be very easy. Without these instructions, people have spent more than an hour trying to navigate this unruly website.
This blog post was written on June 19, 2022. As of this date, the instructions above are accurate.