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Navigating Your Treasury Direct Account

I opened a Treasury Direct account last weekend [3] and did a little bit of exploring. The site looks really good (clean and crisp) and there are some good features available such as an account snapshot and a Purchase Express feature. There are also some problems that I think they need to address – such as how you can’t use your navigation buttons or it errors you out of the system.

The Purchase Express is a two-click way to purchase any security (from Series EE bonds to 20-year TIPS) and probably leaps and bounds faster than purchasing paper-securities. Select a security, enter an amount, and click “Buy Now.” The next page is a summary of your “purchase” and one more click buys you a piece of United States debt. The purchase doesn’t go through unless you hit “Submit” on the second page. I bought a $100 I-Bond just for kicks and I didn’t like how it just kicked me back to the account summary page without any indication that I had made a purchase. One way to find out if the purchase went through is by looking under “My Account Activity” and seeing if it appears under Future Purchases and Redemptions Requested. Buying

There’s also an Investor’s Inbox that Treasury Direct uses to send information (better than filling your Inbox!). I was delightfully surprised to see they didn’t send me a useless Welcome to Treasury Direct! email but instead sent me one about new Zero-Percent Certificate of Indebtedness (C of I) securities. I might check them out in the future but I’ve never heard of them before but this what the message had to say:

The Zero-Percent C of I is a Treasury security that does not earn any interest. It is intended to be used as a source of funds for traditional Treasury security purchases.

One problem I do have with the site is that if you click on one link and then another, it sends you to an error page informing you that you can’t send two requests. Also, if you hit BACK, FORWARD, or REFRESH – it’ll send you to an error also. What makes it worse is that you now have to login all over again because you can’t recover from the error. I really didn’t like that.

As soon as I logged out I was asked to take a single-question survey about what I thought about the Treasury Direct service and I, along with 64% of respondents) rated it Excellent. 4% thought it was Poor and 6% only considered it Fair – maybe they didn’t like the purchase-sans-acknowledgement or the “don’t click on a button twice or use navigation buttons” flaws.