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India Post, the trade name of the Department of Posts, has been operational since 1854. With more than 1.55 lakh offices throughout India, it is the most widely distributed post network in the world.

Apart from delivering mails, India Post offers the following –

  • Small savings schemes.
  • Life insurance (Postal Life Insurance and Rural Postal Life Insurance).
  • Instant money order.
  • Electronic money order.
  • Mutual funds.
  • Money transfer services.

Under small savings schemes, it offers the post office time deposit or National Savings Time Deposit Account. It is similar to a bank fixed deposit with a few elemental differences.

Individuals can open a time deposit account by visiting the nearest post office or by using the official website or app of India Post.

Features of Post Office Term Deposit Scheme

Few of the requisite details regarding investment in the post office term deposit are as follows –

1. Eligibility and joint accounts

Any individual above the age of 10 can open a time deposit account at any post office. Further, guardians can open an account on behalf of a minor. However, the minor has to apply for ownership of the account after he or she reaches the requisite age.

Accounts can also be held jointly by up to 3 individuals. Depositors can also nominate a person before or after opening an account.

One of the primary benefits of post office time deposits is that individuals can create multiple accounts without any restriction. Depositors also have the freedom to transfer their accounts from one post office to another.

2. Multiple lock-in periods

Depositors get the option to open a time deposit account for 1, 2, 3, and 5 years. However, account tenure can be extended by giving a formal application to the post office.

3. Income tax benefits 

Income tax benefits are available only for a 5-year post office time deposit account. Depositors will be able to claim income tax exemptions of up to Rs.1.5 lakh under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act, 1961.

4. Lucrative returns 

The rates of interest applicable on a National Savings Time Deposit Account is listed below –

TenureRate
1 year5.5%
2 year5.5%
3 year5.5%
5 year6.7%

Consider the following example to understand the returns better –

Mrs. Shah invests Rs.5,000 in four post office time deposit schemes of 1 year, 2 years, 3 years, and 5 years each. As per the prevailing rates, she will earn –

  • Rs.5,281 after 1 year.
  • Rs.5,578 after 2 years.
  • Rs.5,891 after 3 years.
  • Rs.6,970 after 5 years. 
  • Revision and determination of rates 

The post office term deposit interest rate is revised every quarter by the Government of India. The interest is calculated quarterly and paid annually.

This rate is determined based on the yields on government securities (G-secs). A spread of 25 bps or 0.25% is added to 5-year time deposits over and above the G-sec yield. However, 1-year, 2-year, and 3-year time deposits do not carry such spreads.

  • Transfer of rates to other accounts

The interest can be transferred to the depositor’s post office savings account with the same post office.

It can also be transferred to the depositor’s National Savings Recurring Deposit Account or 5-year post office recurring deposit account as the entire year’s deposit. RD account holders will have to make a formal application every year before the time deposit interest is credited for this transfer to process.

  • Payment of interest 

The interest, along with the principal, will be paid either in cash or cheque. However, payments higher than Rs.20,000 will only be made with a cheque.

  • Applicability of interest post maturity 

Those who do not withdraw the sum after the maturity of a time deposit account will not receive any additional interest. However, in the case of post offices with core banking solutions, the time deposit will get renewed for the same period it was originally created. The post office time deposit interest rate at the time of maturity will be applicable after renewal.

5. Low minimum deposit amount

The minimum amount required to open a National Savings Time Deposit Account is Rs.1,000. Individuals can deposit in multiples of Rs.100 thereof. There is no limit for maximum investment.

Individuals can make the initial deposit in cash or cheque. In case the payment is made by cheque, the date of encashment will be set as the account opening date.

6. Premature withdrawal 

A National Savings Time Deposit Account does not allow premature withdrawal within the first 6 months. The post office term deposit rate if the corpus is prematurely withdrawn between 6 months and 12 months will be in adherence to the rate prescribed for a savings account.

Post Office Time Deposit vs Bank Fixed Deposits

Even though the Time Deposit Scheme bears similarity with bank FDs, they differ with respect to several parameters. These differences are illustrated in the table below –

ParticularsTime deposit Fixed deposit 
Rate of interest5.5% to 6.7%5.5% to 6.5% (average)
Additional interest for senior citizensNo0.25% to 0.5%
Interest payment frequencyYearlyMonthly, quarterly, or yearly.
Lock-in period1 to 5 years.7 days to 10 years.
Auto-renewalOnly after prior application or in case of post offices with core banking solutions.Yes
Loan against the depositNAAvailable from some banks and NBFCs.
Premature withdrawalAfter 6 months.Available any time with certain financial institutions.
Applicability of tax deducted at source (TDS)NoYes

Post Office Time Deposit vs Other Post Office Savings Schemes

The post office offers several other schemes that can present lucrative investment opportunities for individuals. Following is a look at the differences between a Time Deposit Scheme and that of the other investment options offered by the Post Office.

ProductRate of interestTenurePremature withdrawal Income tax benefits under Section 80C
Time deposit5.5% to 6.7%1 to 5 yearsAfter 6 monthsOnly on 5-year time deposit.
Recurring deposit5.8%5 yearsAfter 3 yearsYes
Monthly Income Scheme6.6%5 yearsAfter 1 year but before 3 years/after 3 years 

No

Sukanya Samriddhi Account7.6%Until the girl reaches 21 years of age or marries after 18.After the girl reaches 18 years of age.Yes
Public Provident Fund Account (PPF)7.1%15 yearsAfter 5 yearsYes
Senior Citizen Savings Scheme (SCSS)7.4%5 yearsAfter 1 yearYes; TDS is applicable if interest earned is more than Rs.50,000.
National Savings Certificates (NSC)6.8%5 yearsAllowed in case of the certificate holder’s death or via a court order.Yes

Given that the conditions of a Time Deposit Scheme are suitable for a short-term investment, with the promise of guaranteed returns, it makes for a profitable avenue to park one’s investment corpus.

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