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Can debt mutual funds be the perfect alternative to fixed deposits and Term Deposits?

Can debt mutual funds be the perfect alternative to fixed deposits and Term Deposits?

Friday January 20, 2017,

4 min Read

Equity mutual funds can definitely prove to be a suitable option for several people with long term investment plans. However, there can be situations when the equity is not very suitable. 


The goals that you set are only five years away.

You are not comfy with volatility and you are also ready to adjust the expectations of growth accordingly.

The objectives of growth will be met with a return rate of 8 % to 9 %.

In case you are in such a position, you have two options to choose from. Debt Funds and Bank Fixed Deposits and Term Deposits. Let us compare them on different grounds.

The security of your capital is pretty much the same – In order to know if your money is safe or not, you must take a look at the credit rating of this instrument. This is provided by the independent agencies for credit rating using the scale below.

Mostly fixed deposits and term deposits are extremely safe and they are rated as AAA. In other words, there is no chance that you will lose the money that you invested. It is often assumed that the government guarantees fixed deposits. It is true that the government guarantees fixed deposits but only till an amount of Rs 1 lakh. Above that, the bank’s credit rating plays a major role. The selection of the bank is also vital. The debt funds do not come with ratings. However, the safety with debt funds can be deduced. It typically lies between Sovereign and AA. If you choose carefully, you might be able to select a debt fund that comes with a combined credit risk similar to fixed deposits.

The rate of interest gets locked when you invest in fixed deposit. At present that rate is 8 % to 9 %. This is applicable for a tenure that is above one year. You will be able to calculate the exact amount that you will get when the deposit matures. The debt funds offer 8 % to 9 % returns too. However, there is no guarantee about the returns. Debts funds are definitely safe but there can be situations when there is volatility due to interest rate fluctuations.

The income that you get from debt funds and fixed deposits are categorized differently. Debt funds offer dividend or capital appreciation. The interest amount that you get from the bank fixed deposits are taxable. On the other hand there is hardly any tax deduction on the debt funds after a period of three years. The tax that you pay on your debt funds within the 1 to 3 year time frame is pretty low. Up to the end of the first year, the tax impact for debt funds and fixed deposits are same. Every year, taxes must be paid for the interest earned of FDs. Thus, the amount of money that accumulates becomes lesser.

In case you need money before your fixed deposit matures, you will be getting lesser interest than you should. Along with it, you will also have to pay penalty charges for withdrawing the amount before maturity. Some of the banks might allow you to withdraw from your FD in part. However, most banks would ask you to take the entire amount when you wish to break the FD. For example, if you have Rs 2 lakhs in your fixed deposit account and you wish to take only Rs 40,000 from it, you might not be allowed to do it. You will be asked to withdraw the entire deposit of Rs 2 lakhs. On the other hand, debt funds offer you full liquidity for the investments you make. Any amount can be withdrawn from the debt fund value as per your needs. The money will be transferred to your bank account within a period of 3 to 4 days. The return that you receive is the money earned by your debt fund over the investment period. No complex formula is associated with it.

Since the FDs are taxable, records must be maintained about your investments. You must compute the income that you will earn from the interest and then file the taxes for it. Things get complicated further when you withdraw money before your FD matures. In case of debt funds, the only tax that you have to pay is on capital gains when you withdraw. This means, you might pay for the taxes only once in five years.