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I've been trying to decipher I bonds also. My take is that you get the sum of a fixed rate, currently 3%, which will apply for the life of the bond, plus a variable rate based on inflation. The current total rate is 5.92%, which is currently higher than EE and HH bonds. In November (and every 6 months thereafter), the rate will be reset, probably to a lower amount. Once set, you will get X% over inflation, i.e., a fixed rate plus a variable rate based on changes in the CPI-U. The X% stays the same over the life of the bond.

As for bonds that one buys until November, you get a locked in 3% over inflation (or deflation but not less than 0%). I believe EE bonds have a minimum of 4 1/4%. So if inflation is greater than that differential, I bonds are a better deal. On the other hand, if the economy really tanks and we get deflation, you can actually earn less than the 3%.
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