As Investors Scramble to Buy I Bonds, TreasuryDirect Site Has Outages

People scrambling to buy government I Bonds, which pay a 9.62% interest rate if purchased by Oct. 28, are experiencing outages at the TreasuryDirect website.

The Treasury Department said there has been a “significant” increase in traffic at the website, which is the only place investors can directly purchase securities such as I Bonds and Treasury bills.

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%. However, those who still wish to score the higher rate will need to take action by Oct. 28.

The Treasury Department is working to address the issues but doesn’t have a timetable for when they’ll be resolved, a spokesman said. Treasury is currently adding to its server capacity in the hopes of addressing the issues quickly, the spokesman 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.

“The TreasuryDirect website isn’t known for its user friendliness,” said Elliot Pepper, a financial planner in Baltimore.

Tuesday night 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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