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SBI’s new minimum balance rule leaves OBC, UCO and PSB as only ‘free’ banks in India

SBI Chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya

With the country’s largest bank, State Bank of India, refusing to rollback service charges for customers who do not maintain a minimum balance in their accounts, only Oriental Bank of Commerce, UCO Bank and Punjab & Sind Bank remain as ‘free’ providers of savings bank services, according to an analysis of RBI data.

SBI said that its savings account holders will have to maintain an average quarterly balance of Rs 1,000 to Rs 5,000 –depending on their branch location — from Apr 1 to avoid paying service charges.

Rural branches require an average balance of Rs 1,000, while semi-urban branches require Rs 2,000, urban Rs 3,000 and metro branches requires Rs 5,000.

These are the highest minimum balance requirements among all 27 public sector banks in India, according to an analysis of the account and scheme details filed by various banks with the RBI.

Other than SBI, the only other public-sector bank that has such high balance requirements is IDBI Bank. Most other banks have minimum balance requirements of 500-1000 rupees.

If a user fails to maintain enough funds, SBI will charge Rs 50 per quarter for rural accounts, Rs 75 for semi-urban, Rs 80 for urban and Rs 100 for metro branches as service charges.

SBI Chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya said the bank needs to impose these charges to recover its cost of operations.

The move is likely to result in a reduction in the number of savings account with the bank as some are closed while others slip into negative balance due to the charges.

ONLY THREE LEFT

The move by the country’s largest bank has left only the Oriental Bank of Commerce, UCO Bank and Punjab & Sind Bank as the only providers of ‘free’ savings bank services.

RBI data shows that none of these banks have any minimum balance requirements, nor do they charge for non-maintenance of funds.

Besides the above three, Bank of India, United Bank and Indian Bank also offer nominal minimum balance requirements.

Bank of India, for example, requires savings bank customers to keep an average minimum balance of Rs 100 irrespective of whether they are in a metro or a village. The penalty for not doing so is also lower at only Rs 40 per quarter.

United Bank requires Rs 50 for rural branches and Rs 100 for all other branches. The penalty for failure is Rs 44 in rural and Rs 72 in others.

AVG QTLY MIN BALANCEPENALTY
RuralSemi-UrbanUrbanMetroRuralSemi-UrbanUrbanMetro
UCO Bank00000000
OBC00000000
PSB00000000
United Bank5010010010044727272
Bank of India10010010010040404040
Andhra Bank10025025025050100100100
IOB10010050050045454545
Vijaya Bank25025050050050656565
Indian Bank250250250250100100100100
Union Bank10025050050022224343
BoB50050010001000100100200200

Similar, Indian Bank requires a minimum balance of Rs 250 per quarter irrespective of location, and the penalty is Rs 100 per quarter.

Indian Overseas Bank and Syndicate Bank both require a minimum balance of Rs 100, but only for rural and semi-urban branches. In urban and metro areas, they have a requirement of Rs 500. IOB charges Rs 45 for failure to meet the requirement irrespective of location, while Syndicate charges Rs 40.

Private players already have balance requirements ranging from Rs 1,000-10,000 depending on branch location.

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