It's time to take a look at your portfolio of U.S. Savings Bonds. You don't want to cash in the EE bonds you currently own. But you might want to reconsider your payroll savings plan deductions, and switch from Series EE to Series I bonds.

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I Bond vs. EE Bond Rates

Series EE and I Savings Bonds are both designed to offer individuals a safe investment, but the differences between the two may result in very different returns.

Series EE and Series I Savings Bonds are commonly confused, despite being very different products. Series EE and I Savings Bonds are both part of the savings bond program from the US Treasury, with similar low-risk investment profiles, same methods for purchasing, and tax advantages. There have been several types of EE Bonds with different rate adjustments and maturity timespans while there has only been one type of I Bond issued. I Bonds change their rate for new and all currently issued bonds every 6 months based on changes in inflation while current EE Bonds keep the same rate for their lifespan.

Quick Comparison

I bonds EE bonds
Maximum Purchase Limit per year $10,000 electronic and up to $5,000  paper as a result of a tax refund $10,000
Minimum purchase: $50 for a $50 I Bond when purchasing paper bond certificates.
$25 for a $25 I bond when purchased electronically.

* Paper I Bonds no longer sold directly. Only available as part of a tax refund.
$25 for a $50 EE Bond when purchasing paper bond certificates*.
$25 for a $25 EE bond when purchased electronically.

* Paper EE Bonds are no longer issued
Denominations: Paper bonds: $50, $75, $100, $200, $500, $1,000, $5,000.
Electronic bonds: purchase to the penny for $25 or more.
Paper bonds: $50, $75, $100, $200, $500, $1,000, $5,000, and $10,000.
Electronic bonds: purchase to the penny for $25 or more.

Earnings A fixed rate of return and a  variable semiannual inflation rate (based on CPI-U  for March and September) are combined. Series EE Bonds issue dated May 2005 and after will earn a fixed rate of interest.
Minimum term of ownership: 1 year 1 year
Interest-earning period: 30 years 30 years
Early redemption penalties: 3-month interest penalty if redeemed during the first 5 years. 3-month interest penalty if redeemed during the first 5 years .
Type of Investment: Non-marketable - cannot be bought or sold in secondary securities market. Non-marketable - cannot be bought or sold in secondary securities market.
Inflation Indexing: Semiannual inflation rate (based on CPI-U changes) announced in May and November. N / A

I Bond vs. EE Bond Rates

This chart shows the difference between EE Bond rates and the initial I Bond rate. There have been 2 different types of EE Bonds issued since the I Bond program began in September 1998. The older EE Bonds would adjust their rate every 6 months, much like current I Bonds. The old EE Bond rate is based on 90% of the average yields on 5-year securities for the preceding six months. The newer EE Bonds have a single rate that does not change at any point. The chart is broken into 2 EE Bond lines to differentiate between the two types of bonds. The rates for the older EE Bonds are only valid for those 6 months and those bonds will have a different rate than the ones newly issued since May 2005, but that data is not presented on the chart to simplify the comparison.

Purchase dateOld EE Bond RateEE Bond RateI Bond Rate
11/1/2014  1.48
5/1/2014  1.94
11/1/2013  1.38
5/1/2013  1.18
11/1/2012  1.76
5/1/2012  2.20
11/1/2011  3.06
5/1/2011  4.60
11/1/2010  0.74
5/1/2010 1.41.74
11/1/2009 1.23.36
5/1/2009 0.70.00
11/1/2008 1.35.64
5/1/2008 1.44.84
11/1/2007 3.04.28
5/1/2007 3.43.74
11/1/2006 3.64.52
5/1/2006 3.72.41
11/1/2005 3.26.73
5/1/2005 3.54.80
11/1/20043.25 3.67
5/1/20042.84 3.39
11/1/20032.61 2.19
5/1/20032.66 4.66
11/1/20023.25 4.08
5/1/20023.96 2.57
11/1/20014.07 4.40
5/1/20014.5 5.92
11/1/20005.54 6.49
5/1/20005.73 7.49
11/1/19995.19 6.98
5/1/19994.31 5.05
11/1/19984.6 5.05
9/1/1998  4.66


References

  1. U.S. Department of the Treasury, Bureau of the Public Debt. TreasuryDirect. EE Savings Bonds In Depth. http://www.treasurydirect.gov/indiv/research/indepth/ebonds/res_e_bonds.htm. Accessed July 24, 2010.
Page last modified 2/26/2012