So many investors are scrambling to buy I Bonds, which pay a 9.62% interest rate if purchased by Oct. 28, that the Treasury Department said it cannot guarantee orders made before the deadline will be processed in time.
The government’s TreasuryDirect site, the only place investors can directly purchase securities such as I Bonds and Treasury bills, this week became one of the most visited federal sites on the web, officials said, and has experienced intermittent outages.
During just the final week of October, the Treasury issued $1.95 billion in I Bonds, more than the total for fiscal year 2021. In just one year, some 3.7 million new accounts were created on the site, more than the 2.4 million for the prior 10 years combined.
The inflation-adjusted Series I savings bonds became a popular choice for investors this year as inflation reached a four-decade high and markets plunged.
Starting Nov. 1 the interest rate on I Bonds is expected to drop to about 6.47%. Previously, the Treasury Department said those who wished to score the higher rate would need to take action by Oct. 28
Investors must complete purchases and receive a confirmation email by Oct. 28 to ensure they will get the 9.62% rate, according to the TreasuryDirect website.
The Treasury doubled its server capacity in an effort to address the outages, a Treasury Department spokesperson said. The system experienced some moments of slow performance and was briefly unavailable, the spokesman said.
“We continue to balance these efforts with our commitment to the overall integrity of the 20-year-old system, and protecting the personal identity and financial assets of our customers,” the spokesperson said.
This isn’t the first time the website crashed due to high I Bond demand. The TreasuryDirect website experienced outages on May 3, a day after the 9.62% rate was announced.
Users regularly take to social media to complain about the TreasuryDirect website and sometimes go to great lengths to make their I Bond purchases.
“The TreasuryDirect website is not known for its user friendliness,” said Elliot Pepper, a financial planner in Baltimore.
Tuesday night Mr. Pepper was working with a client to open custodial accounts and purchase more I Bonds before the rate change and twice they were knocked off the website for seemingly no reason, he said. Eventually they were able to open the accounts and buy I Bonds, but it was quite stressful at the time, he said.
More than $22.3 billion worth of I Bonds have been purchased this year through September on the Treasury Department’s website.
The yield for I Bonds far exceeds cash, and the bonds are appealing for investors who want to grab a higher rate of return without the risk of the stock market.
—Richard Rubin contributed to this article
Write to Veronica Dagher at Veronica.Dagher@wsj.com
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