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The annual interest rate on newly purchased Series I bonds could rise above 5% in November due to inflation and other factors, financial experts say.
That would be an increase from the current rate of 4.3% for I bond purchases made through Oct. 31. But it is less than the 6.89% interest rate offered on I bonds purchased between November 2022 and April 2023.
Backed by the U.S. government, demand for I-bonds has exploded in recent years amid high inflation – and November’s rate could be the fourth-highest yield since I-bonds were introduced in 1998.
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The U.S. Treasury adjusts interest rates on I bonds every May and November, and there is also two parts to I bond yields: a variable and a fixed portion.
The Treasury adjusts the variable interest rate to reflect inflation every six months. It can change the fixed price also every six months, but not always.
(The fixed portion of the I-Bond interest rate remains the same for investors after purchase. The variable interest rate resets every six months, starting from the investor’s I-Bond purchase date, not when the Treasury announces interest rate adjustments. You can adjust the interest rate determine the date when purchasing Here.)
Currently, the variable interest rate is 3.38% and the fixed interest rate is 0.9%, giving a rounded total return of 4.30% for I bonds purchased between May 1st and October 31st.
Based on six months of consumer price index data, experts believe that the variable component is expected to rise to 3.94% in November, up from the current variable rate of 3.38%. This variable interest rate will change again in May 2024.
While the variable I bond rate can be calculated based on changes in inflation over six months, the fixed rate portion is more difficult to predict, experts say.
“The big question is what the fixed interest rate will be,” said Ken Tumin, founder and publisher of DepositAccounts.com Traces that I makeamong other assets.
The Treasury Department doesn’t disclose exactly how it decides the fixed interest rate for I-bonds, but Tumin believes it will be based on higher yields from 10-year Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS), another government-based inflation-linked asset , will rise.
“The [fixed rate component] will be really impactful for long-term I-bond investors,” he said.
David Enna, founder of Tipswatch.com, a website that tracks TIPS and I owe interestsaid “there are many theories” about how the Treasury decides on the fixed rate, including market returns on TIPS and other factors.
Enna also assumes that the fixed I bond interest rate will rise Increase in November, depending on the spread between the current fixed interest rate of 0.9% and the real yield on 10-year TIPS. The real yield reflects how much TIPS investors earn annually above the rate of inflation until maturity.
If real yields on 10-year TIPS were expected to remain in the 2.3% to 2.4% range over the next six months, it would be “justified” for the Treasury to set the I-bond fixed rate at 1, 4% or 1.5%, he said.