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Get yourself a safe deposit locker

Arti Sharma | August 12, 2003

If you open the newspaper and read about a house being burgled and loss of jewellery and money reported, the first question that comes to mind is, why did the family keep such valuables in the house?

The thing to do when you buy jewellery, get extra cash or have valuables is to go stash it in a locker.

That is, unless you're willing to risk the loss in case of a burglary.

Safe deposit lockers took off in a big way in the early eighties and have gained significance in the light of increasing insecurity.

Most banks offer safe deposit lockers in branches, though at some places there is a long waiting list before you finally get one. The rates and fees for a locker differ from bank to bank.

But regardless of whether it is a private sector or public sector bank you have to have an account with the bank to apply for the facility. Also, fees will vary depending on the size of the locker, usually banks have three sizes - small, medium and large.

Private sector banks like ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank do not charge a one-time deposit in addition to the annual fees like most public sector banks do.

The only criterion for obtaining a locker in a private sector bank is that one should have a satisfactorily maintained bank account with a steady minimum balance. The lockers are allocated on the basis of a first-come-first-serve basis or availability.

ICICI Bank, for instance, charges Rs 1,800 annually for the smaller locker size and Rs 4,000 for the large locker. This includes the rent, stamp and admission fee.

Public sector banks, however, charge a much lower annual fee. But availability of lockers being a key issue, they charge a deposit which is sometimes as high as Rs 50,000 - Rs 100,000 depending on the waiting list.

Like State Bank Of India's branch in Bandra which charges Rs 50,000 as a deposit, that can be paid in installments over a period of time.

The annual fee is Rs 500. Similarly, Indian Bank charges Rs 10,000 as a deposit and Rs 600 annually for a medium sized locker. Indian Bank calculates the deposit such that the interest earned on it matches the annual fee charged for the locker facility.

What you should do:

Always try and get a locker either close to your residence or your workplace so that you can access it within banking hours. Also, no matter what anyone says, lockers are a safer option for storing your valuables rather than keeping them at home.

Besides if the locker is easily accessible your valuables will be too. If you can't find a locker in your area, keep track of new branches opening in the area and you will definitely stand a chance there.

The branch will be building its customer base and will be more than happy to allocate a locker to you. All you have to do is open a bank account there and maintain a minimum balance at all times.

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