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Home > Business > Business Headline > Report

No-frills savings account is here to stay

January 12, 2006 01:42 IST

Over the past couple of months, banks have rolled out no-frills accounts, which need either nil or low minimum balances.

The country's largest state-run bank, State Bank of India, has introduced this facility - no-frills accounts - in Aurangabad, wherein the bank made it possible to open accounts with zero balance and deposit amounts as paltry as Rs 5.

To lend a local flavour, SBI plans to rope in services of non-governmental organisations, retired teachers, self-help groups and women to assess the target clients in opening the bank accounts and offer support for banking transactions.

Apart from basic banking services, the bank even plans to offer rural depositors personal and consumer loan products as well as life and healthcare insurance products.

As far as private sector banking behemoth ICICI Bank is concerned, the minimum quarterly average balance would vary according to the provision of the chequebook facility.

This means that the depositor will have to keep a balance of Rs 300 in case he does not use the chequebook facility, and Rs 500 if he does. In case a customer uses chequebook, he can request for additional chequebooks (with 25 leaves) at Rs 50 per chequebook.

The bank would charge a penalty of Rs 50 for non-maintenance of the quarterly average balance. Only if one pays an annual fee of Rs 99, would one be eligible for a debit card. One can avail of Internet and mobile banking services only if the person makes an annual payment of Rs 100 for either of these services.

ICICI Bank offers its no-frills account holders only six transactions at branches and ATMs free of cost per month. For every additional transaction at the branch, Rs 50 will be charged, while at ATMs, every extra transaction will cost Rs 15.

Another major banking player in the private sector, HDFC Bank has introduced a no-frills facility with a minimum QAB of Rs 500. However, it offers the holder of such an account only one free transaction at the branch and ATM per month.

While for additional ATM cash deposits/withdrawals HDFC Bank would charge Rs 30 per transaction, for every additional branch transaction, it would charge Rs 60.

However, the account holder does not have to shell out any additional fees for usage of Internet and mobile banking services. Mid-sized private entity IndusInd Bank has launched basic banking accounts, which customers can start with Re 1 as the opening balance.

Under this account, the customers can avail of free Internet registration and weekly direct withdrawal facility with an option of an ATM card.

As per the no-frills account put in place by state-owned Vijaya Bank, one can open the account with a minimum initial deposit of Rs 10 and can continue even with a zero balance. One can operate the account through withdrawal slips, and non-maintenance of the QAB will not invite any folio charges or penalty.

So, with the number of free transactions being limited, the account holder needs to prioritise his visits to the bank or ATMs and also try to possibly complete all necessary transactions in a single visit.

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