Can I Buy I Bonds as a Gift for Someone Else?

Yes! You can buy I bonds as a gift for a loved one. We’ll walk you through the process.

Written by Casey Bond / September 27, 2022

Quick Bites

  • Inflation-linked I bonds are all the rage and can make for a fine gift for friends and family.
  • They’ll have to wait at least a year to cash it in, of course, a delay that might be less welcome.

Looking for the perfect gift for your cousin’s graduation or niece’s wedding? A Series I bond might not be at the top of their wish list, but the return on investment is a heck of a lot better than an Instant Pot or set of candlesticks.

In these uncertain (and increasingly costly) times, an I bond makes a great inflation-busting gift. Below, we walk you through how to buy one as a gift for someone else.

Inside this article

  1. Why an I bond?
  2. What information do I need ?
  3. How much can I buy as a gift?
  4. Who can I purchase I bonds for?
  5. What is the interest rate?
  6. How do I give the I bond?
  7. How to see returns?
  8. Can I buy I bonds for kids?
  9. Can I buy paper I bonds?
  10. What are the taxes involved?

Why an I bond?

An I bond is a U.S. government-backed investment that pays a combined rate, comprised of a fixed rate, currently 0%, and a moving rate based on inflation. That latter rate changes twice a year. In times of barreling inflation, anything that’s even remotely protected from inflation looks pretty good.

It’s a Great Time to Buy I Bonds

It’s a Great Time to Buy I Bonds

If you purchase an I bond anytime from May to Oct. 31, you’ll get an annualized 9.62% return for the first six months—that’s pretty impressive.

Find out more

What information do I need to buy an I bond as a gift?

To buy an I bond, you’ll first need to set up an account with TreasuryDirect.[1] The person you’re buying one for also needs an account, but they can create that after receiving the I bond. You’ll need the recipient’s full name and Social Security or tax ID number.

How much can I buy as a gift?

The minimum purchase amount for Series I bonds is $25. Whether you purchase an I bond for yourself or another person, the cap per person, per year is $10,000 in digitally purchased bonds.[2] However, this cap is per person. That means it’s possible to buy $10,000 worth of I bonds for yourself, and an additional $10,000 in I bonds in another individual’s name.

How Often Can You Buy I Bonds?

How Often Can You Buy I Bonds?

As often as you’d like! Until you reach the limits, of course.

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Who can I purchase I bonds for?

“I bonds can be purchased for just about anyone,” says Michael Ryan, a financial coach. “You can buy them for yourself, for your children or for someone else as a gift.”

What is the interest rate and what are the terms of an I bond?

I bond interest rates are composed of two parts:

  • A fixed rate, which remains the same for the life of the bond, now at 0%

  • An inflation-adjusted rate, which is adjusted for changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), at 9.62% for now[3]

Interest is compounded twice a year, in November and May. The inflation-adjusted rate applies to bonds purchased through October 2022.

The maximum maturity on an I bond is 30 years. But you can cash it in after a year. However, if you redeem it within five years you will pay a penalty of three months’ interest.

How do I give the I bond to the recipient?

“There are a couple different ways to give an I bond to someone,” Ryan says. One way, he explains, is to transfer the bond into the recipient’s name using the TreasuryDirect website once they sign up for an account.

After purchasing the I bond, you’re required to hold it in your account for at least five days. That protects the Treasury from losing money in case your payment doesn’t go through. Once you’re in the clear, navigate to your “Gift Box” via the TreasuryDirect portal and enter the recipient’s account number to deliver it. TreasuryDirect will then send the recipient an email to announce the gift.

If you’re the old-fashioned type, you can print out a gift certificate provided by TreasuryDirect so you have a physical gift to give. Disclaimer: Don’t expect any award-winning designs.

It’s also possible to buy a paper I bond instead. We’ll get to that shortly.

How can the recipient check on the returns?

Recipients of I bond gifts can check the value at any time by logging in to their TreasuryDirect account and selecting the “Current Holdings” tab.[4] For paper I bonds, they can use this calculator.

Can I buy I bonds for kids?

You sure can. These bonds can be gifted to both adults and children. Note that a kid under the age of 18 will need someone to create a minor-linked TreasuryDirect account for them.[5] The creator remains the account custodian until the child becomes an adult, at which point they can de-link their account and become the sole owner of the I bond.

Can You Buy I Bonds for Kids?

Can You Buy I Bonds for Kids?

Yes, you can buy I bonds for kids, and they can be a good investment. Here’s what to know.

Find out more

Can I buy paper I bonds?

Yes. But like many things made of paper these days, it’s much less convenient. The only way to buy an I bond in paper form is by using your tax refund. Complete an IRS Form 8888 when you file and ask for the I bond to be issued in that person’s name. You can choose from denominations of $50, $100, $200, $500 or $1,000.

Paper I bonds are capped at $5,000 per person, per calendar year, but you can buy both paper and electronic bonds for a total of $15,000.

What are the taxes involved?

Interest earned on I bonds is subject to federal income tax, but not state or local income taxes.[6] It’s also subject to federal estate, gift and excise taxes, as well as state estate or inheritance taxes when applicable. If you buy an I bond as a gift, the recipient is responsible for paying those taxes. Interest can be reported and taxed each year, or reporting of the interest can be deferred until the bond gets cashed. One exception: If the interest is used to pay for qualified higher education expenses, it may not be subject to federal taxes.

How Are I Bonds Taxed?

How Are I Bonds Taxed?

I bonds, like any investment, are subject to taxation, though only at the federal level and there is one way out.

Find out more

So, skip the registry and head straight for the TreasuryDirect website. They’ll thank you, eventually.

Article Sources
  1. “Savings Bonds as Gifts,” TreasuryDirect, https://www.treasurydirect.gov/indiv/planning/plan_gifts.htm.
  2. “Buying Series I Savings Bonds,” TreasuryDirect, https://www.treasurydirect.gov/indiv/research/indepth/ibonds/res_ibonds_ibuy.htm.
  3. “Series I Savings Bonds Rates & Terms: Calculating Interest Rates,“ TreasuryDirect, https://www.treasurydirect.gov/indiv/research/indepth/ibonds/res_ibonds_iratesandterms.htm.
  4. “Cashing (Redeeming) Series I Savings Bonds,” TreasuryDirect, https://www.treasurydirect.gov/indiv/research/indepth/ibonds/res_ibonds_iredeem.htm#what.
  5. “Learn More About Linked Accounts,” TreasuryDirect, https://www.treasurydirect.gov/indiv/help/TDHelp/help_ug_126-LinkedAccountLearnMore.htm.
  6. “Tax Considerations for I Bonds,” TreasuryDirect, https://www.treasurydirect.gov/indiv/research/indepth/ibonds/res_ibonds_itaxconsider.htm.

About the Author

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Casey Bond

Casey Bond is an award-winning writer who has been covering personal finance for more than a decade. Her work has also appeared on Yahoo!, Money.com, Fortune, MSN, Business Insider, The Motley Fool, U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, TheStreet, and more. She is a Certified Personal Finance Counselor.

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