When purchasing US Treasury bills via auctions with Charles Schwab, one cannot choose the order type: it has to be a market order, as shown below.

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As a result, one receives the following warning:

Please note: By submitting a noncompetitive bid you agree to accept the interest rate set at auction. It is possible that rates on Treasury securities purchased at auction could be negative resulting in a loss to you. If you do not wish to proceed, click "Do Not Place Order" below. (SBS-ORDR-2098)

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Why wouldn't a broker let a retail investor choose the order type when purchasing Treasury bills via auctions? I wonder if the limitation comes from the broker or the Treasury bill auction mechanism.

2 Answers 2


Brokers do allow that, just not through their self-service. If you want to place a competitive bid - call the bond desk.

Retail investors do not buy treasuries in any volume large enough for the Treasury to care about their bids when they consider to set the price. You'll get the same price everyone else is getting, but because your order is so small (you're buying 1 single bond in this example), adding your personal bid to the consideration would just make the whole process infeasible. So there's no reason for brokers to complicate their own life and support that option for you unless you're carrying a significant weight. In which case, you won't be doing it through these online screens, you'll have your dedicated rep at the brokerage deal with everything you need.

Read more details about the competitive and non-competitive bids here.


If you really want to place a competitive bid for T bills, you can open a Treasury Direct account and do it there on line. But I agree that as a retail investor, it makes little sense. The rate will be whatever it is and your bid won't affect it.

  • 1
    Thanks, while it won't change the rate, it could be used to put a limit on the how much one is willing to pay for the bond. Mar 3, 2023 at 2:23
  • 1
    No, TreasuryDirect does not support competitive bids (neither did the old Legacy Treasury Direct when it was active). Mar 3, 2023 at 2:37

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