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Term Deposits – What is term Deposits

Updated on :  

08 min read.

Term Deposits, popularly known as Fixed Deposit, is an investment instrument in which a lump-sum sum amount is deposited at an agreed rate of interest for a fixed period of time, ranging from 1 month to 5 years. Term Deposits can be availed at financial institutions like Banks, Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFC), credit unions, post offices and building societies.

Characteristics of Term Deposits

Term Deposits have unique monetary features that have made them popular among the investment circles. The essential characteristics of term deposits are:

  • Fixed rate of interest: The rate of interest for term deposits are fixed and are not subject to fluctuations in the market.
  • Safety of investment: Since interest rates of the term deposit are not affected by the changes in the economy, it is one of the safest investment options available.
  • Preset investment period: The investor has the freedom to choose the tenor of the investment based on the plans offered by the financial institution. Normally the interest rate offered by the institution will be higher for a longer tenor. But it is advisable to compare the interest to tenor ratios before making the investment.
  • Interest Payment: The investor has the option to choose to receive the interest income either on maturity or periodically – monthly, quarterly or yearly.
  • Wealth Generation:  The stable interest received on the investment ensures that the investors’ wealth grows even during difficult times in the market.
  • Rollover:  An investor who does not require their money on the maturity of the term deposit has an option to roll over the deposit for a fresh term. ‘Rollover’ refers to the reinvesting of maturity proceeds in a new term deposit and adding on to the interest. So, an investor doesn’t have to utilize their money as soon as the term deposit matures.
  • Penalty on premature withdrawal: Since term deposits come with a fixed tenor, it is considered ‘locked-in’. If the investor opts to withdraw from the deposit before the lock-in period ends they are liable to pay a penalty to the financial institution along with lowered interest income.
  • Loan against deposit: If in a contingent situation the investor needs financial liquidity, they can avail a loan of up to 60-75% of the deposit amount.
  • Taxation on interest: Under the Income Tax Act, the interest earned on the deposit is taxable income and can be subject to a Tax Deducted at the Source (TDS).
  • Low investment limit: The lower limit of investment varies as per the financial institution, but the lower limit is generally Rs 1000. Although, there is no upper limit on how much can be invested in term deposits.
  • Insurance on deposit: Under the RBI regulations, any deposit in a certified bank is eligible for an insurance cover of up to Rs 1 lakh under the Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation (DICGC).

Types of Term Deposit

  • Cumulative and Non-Cumulative deposits: Cumulative term deposit is an option provided for investors who don’t need regular monetary income from the deposit. Hence, the interest earned is reinvested into the deposit and paid out as a lump sum at the end of the tenor. A non-cumulative term deposit is for investors who are looking for a regular interest payout. With a non-cumulative term deposit, the interest will be credited in the investor’s account at regular intervals – monthly, quarterly or yearly.
  • Sweep-in facility term deposit: Sweep-in is a feature that financial institutions provide where the individual can set an upper limit on their savings account. Any amount higher than that limit will be converted into a term deposit. If the savings account faces deficit then the funds will be withdrawn from the term deposit with a loss of interest only on the funds swept in. Sweep-in term deposits usually provide a higher interest rate.
  • Short-term and Long-term deposits: These term deposits have been classified based on the holding period of the investment. A short term deposit has a lock-in period ranging from 1 to 12 months. Short term deposits are ideal for investors looking for quick returns. Long term deposits have a lock-in period ranging from 1 to 10 years. These deposits provide a higher interest rate than the short term deposits.
  • Senior Citizen term deposits: An individual over the age of 60 years is considered a senior citizen. Most banks or financial institutions provide a higher interest rate on term deposits for senior citizens. Senior citizens are also eligible for tax-saving term deposits at some banks.
  • Special deposit schemes for children: There are a few special deposit scheme aimed the welfare of children. ‘Sukanya Samriddhi Account’ launched by the government aims at improving the financial stability of girl children above the age of 10 years. Different banks have different schemes focussed on the financial welfare of children e.g., ‘Sishu Mangal’ deposit scheme by Allahabad Bank, Balika Shiksha Scheme by Punjab National Bank etc.
  • Post Office Time Deposit: Post offices also provide certain financial services. One such service is the Post Office Term Deposit. It can either be opened as an individual or joint account. One can transfer their post office term deposit accounts from one post office to another or own multiple accounts in the same post office. The minimum limit for the deposit is Rs.200 and the current interest rate is 7.9% for 5 years. Any deposit for a tenor longer than 5 years is eligible for the tax benefits prescribed under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act, 1961.
  • Tax-saver term deposits: Tax-saver deposits are eligible for a tax deduction of up to Rs 1.5 lakh under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act. These tax saver term deposits have a lock-in period of 5 years and any   income above Rs 40,000 is taxable. The usual interest rates range between 5.5%-7.75%.

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