SBI special FD scheme for senior citizens: Here are the features and should they invest?

The SBI 'WECARE' Senior Citizens' Term Deposit scheme has been launched to provide a higher interest rate to senior citizens in the current falling interest rate scenario as this category of investors are usually dependent on interest income.

Agencies
There are other options as well that are offering higher interest rate as compared to SBI special FD.
The country's largest banker, State Bank of India (SBI), announced a special fixed deposit scheme for senior citizens called, SBI 'WECARE' Senior Citizens' Term Deposit scheme. The scheme has been made available for investment from 12 May 2020.

According to the bank, the scheme has been launched to provide a higher interest rate to senior citizens in the current falling interest rate scenario as this category of investors are usually dependent on interest income. The launch of this scheme comes in the wake of several banks cutting interest rates on fixed deposits and savings bank accounts due to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) cutting repo rate and reverse repo rate.

Here are the main features of this newly-launched scheme.


Who can invest in it?
Only resident senior citizens aged sixty years and above are eligible to invest in this scheme. The scheme is a domestic term deposit, therefore NRI senior citizens are not eligible to invest in the scheme.

What is the interest rate applicable to the scheme?
As per the details of the scheme available on the SBI website, the scheme will fetch 0.8 per cent above the interest rate applicable to the general public. For instance, with effect from May 12, 2020, the interest rate on five years fixed deposit for the general public is 5.70 per cent. If a senior citizen puts a fixed deposit under the special FD scheme, then interest rate applicable to the FD will be 6.50 per cent.

However, interest rate on SBI fixed deposit has been revised again with effect from May 27, 2020. Now, the interest rate on five year fixed deposit for general public is 5.40 per cent. For senior citizen investing under special FD scheme, the interest rate applicable will be 6.20 per cent.

The SBI website says, ' Additional premium of 30 bps (over and above existing premium of 50 bps) over card rate for public'. This would mean that any revision in the fixed deposit interest rates applicable to the general public in the future is likely to impact the interest rate applicable on the 'WECARE' fixed deposit scheme. (100 bps = 1%)

What is the tenure of FDs placed under the scheme?
A fixed deposit investment under this special scheme can be made for a minimum of five years and a maximum of 10 years.

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How is interest payable as per the scheme?
Interest on fixed deposits under this scheme will be payable at monthly or quarterly intervals. The scheme details available on SBI's website do not clarify whether the senior citizen has an option of receiving the interest payment at half-yearly or yearly intervals.

SBI is also yet to clarify whether the investor can opt for the cumulative option for interest on the fixed deposit. Normally, under the cumulative option, interest on a fixed deposit is payable along with the principal amount at the time of maturity.
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Remember the interest, credited to the investor's bank account, will be net of taxes deducted by the bank. For senior citizens, TDS will be deducted if the total interest in a financial year exceeds Rs 50,000. The total of interest earned on all fixed deposits, recurring deposits or any other deposits held with the bank would be taken into account for the purpose of TDS. Interest credited in a savings bank account is not subject to TDS.

Last date of investing in the scheme
The scheme is open between May 12, 2020, and September 30, 2020.

How to invest in the scheme?
A senior citizen can invest in the scheme by visiting a SBI bank branch. Existing customers of SBI can also place the FD via net banking and/or via Yono app of the bank.

Loan against fixed deposits
In case of emergency, a senior citizen can take a loan against the fixed deposits, as per the SBI website.

Premature withdrawal of the FDs under the scheme
As per the bank's press release, the additional interest i.e. 30 bps under the scheme will not be payable in case of premature withdrawal of the fixed deposit placed under the scheme. Therefore, if you opt for premature withdrawal of a FD under the scheme, your fixed deposit investment will fetch only 0.50 per cent above the interest rate applicable to the general public i.e. 6.20 per cent.

Should you invest in the scheme?
If a senior citizen is looking for reasonable return as well as safety of his/her principal money, then there are other options as well that are offering higher interest rate as compared to SBI special FD.

For instance, senior citizens savings scheme (SCSS) is currently offering 7.4 per cent per annum. The interest rate differential between SBI FD and SCSS is 0.90 per cent. SCSS also allows premature withdrawal albeit by paying some penalty. The tenure of the SCSS scheme is also five years.

As per the SCSS rules, if the scheme account is closed before 1 year, no interest will be payable and will be recovered if already paid. If the account is closed after one year, then an amount equal to 1.5% of the deposit is to be deducted. Similarly, if the scheme account is closed after 2 years, then 1% of the deposit will be deducted. The maximum amount that can be deposited in the scheme is Rs 15 lakh.

Interest rates on different schemes available to senior citizens
Scheme Name

Interest Rate (%)

SBI Special FD scheme

6.50

Senior Citizen Savings Scheme

7.40

Post office Monthly Income Scheme

6.60

Five Year post office time deposit

6.70

RBI taxable bonds (Not available for investment from May 29, 2020)

7.75

Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana (PMVVY) 7.40

Other post office schemes such as five-year post office time deposit is currently offering 6.7 per cent and Post office monthly income scheme account is offering 6.6 per cent per annum which is slightly higher than the interest rate on SBI special FD for senior citizens.

Another option is Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana (PMVVY). The scheme is offering 7.4 per cent with a tenure of 10 years. It is a pension based scheme in which investment is made as per the amount of pension the investor wants to receive and in which frequency. The pension income can be received monthly, quarterly, half-yearly and yearly mode.

The minimum pension an investor can receive is Rs 1,000 per month and maximum is Rs 9,250 per month. Premature withdrawal from the scheme is allowed only under certain circustances such as critical illness of self or spouse.

Till May 28, 2020 investor also had an option of investing in RBI's 7.75 per cent. However, RBI has discontinnued issuing these bonds with effect from May 29, 2020.

Therefore, a senior citizen should evaluate all the features of the scheme and not just the interest rate before making any investment.
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