I bonds paying more than EEs, and inflation protection is nice, too; Dollars & Sense


Is there a limit to how many I bonds, an amount, I can buy in one year? Also, if there is, can I buy so much in my name and [so much in] my husband's so that I could buy more per year? Also, another question: Are there any other things besides the face value and the automatically-keeping-up-with-inflation that are different from the EE bonds?

J.D., North Kingstown, R.I.

The new inflation-proof U.S. Savings Bonds are known as Series I bonds. The most you may invest in them is $30,000 a year, says Daniel J. Pederson, president of the Savings Bond Informer of Detroit (800-927-1901), which calculates bond values and sells other services for bondholders.

You may also invest up to $30,000 in your husband's name. Just remember that the annual limit applies per person. (The government says the limit applies "per Social Security number." This suggests that it might be difficult to get around the annual limit.)

Are there differences between Series I bonds and Series EE bonds? Yes, too many to include in today's column. But this summary might help:

The most you may invest in Series I bonds is $30,000 a year; for EE bonds, it's $15,000.

The minimum you can invest in a Series I bond is $50; for EE bonds, it's $25.

New Series I bonds are earning a higher rate of interest (5.05 percent) than are new Series EE bonds (4.31 percent).

In general, the rate on Series I bonds is tied to inflation; the rate for EE bonds is tied to five-year U.S. Treasury securities.

You may not exchange your I bonds for Series HH bonds; you may exchange your EE bonds for HH bonds.

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