Because of high inflation, series I bonds have been an attractive savings vehicle for a while now. But is that still the case? Is it time to bail – and sell your Series I bonds now?
Money expert Clark Howard has been crystal clear that savings bonds are not investments. "The Series I Savings Bonds are a savings tool," he says.
Series I Savings Bond: Should You Sell Right Now?
With that said, he wants you to use Series I savings bonds to park your money for an extended period to capitalize on the interest you can gain. But there comes a time when you need to decide whether to cash in or not.
In this article, we’ll cover in-depth whether it makes sense to sell your Series I savings bonds right now. We’ll also get from Clark a strategy on how to maximize the interest you earn on your I Series savings bonds when you decide to sell them early.
What Rate Are Series I Savings Bonds Paying Right Now?
According to TreasuryDirect.gov, the composite rate for I bonds issued through April 30, 2024, is 5.27%.
The composite rate is made up of two rates – a fixed rate (currently 1.30%) that stays the same for the life of the bond, and an inflation rate (3.94%), which is variable and resets every six months based on the date of purchase.
Should You Sell Your Series I Savings Bond Right Now?
Clark says in November 2023 when the U.S. Treasury announced new rates for the next six months of I bonds, he began to get questions about whether it made sense to cash in Series I savings bonds then.
Keep in mind that if you sell your Series I savings bond before its five-year maturation, you forfeit the last three months of earned interest. But Clark says a strategy you can do to maximize the interest you’ve already earned before selling is this:
"There's a key strategy with I bonds where you have to sell them in the fourth month of when they set to a lower rate. That way, you don't hit any of the interest you would have earned in that prior six-month period when the inflation rate was higher."
Because I bond fixed rates are determined each November 1 (and May 1), if you bought savings bonds in November, the fourth month would be February – an opportune time to sell and keep most of the earned interest.
So, yes, Clark is OK with you selling your Series I savings bonds right now to take advantage of the interest. Of course, you'll have to be alright with paying federal taxes on any gains you've accumulated over that time.
But that’s not all.
Should You Buy Series I Savings Bonds Right Now?
Clark says it also makes financial sense to buy Series I savings bonds right now because they're a much better deal than they were a few years ago when they were at a 0% fixed rate.
"When the Feds were selling these back then, people were buying them just at the inflation rate. There was no bonus, like today: If you buy I bonds today, you get the rate of inflation, plus an additional return on your money, which is very attractive."
“They’re a great deal right now going forward,” he says.
Although interest rates are trending down, Series I savings bonds still are a nice savings vehicle to protect your money from inflation, Clark says.
If Series I savings bonds are what you want to do, here is the two-fold strategy that Clark suggests right now:
- Sell your old Series I savings bonds at the old rate.
- Buy new Series I savings bonds to capitalize on the new rate.
Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily have to buy your Series I savings bonds in February, you could wait until the last week in April to get the existing rate.
What’s your opinion on I bonds? Let us know in our Clark.com Community.