Choosing Your Financial Path: Sovereign Gold Bonds (SGBs) vs. Fixed Deposits (FDs)

When it comes to secure investment options, Sovereign Gold Bonds (SGBs) and Fixed Deposits (FDs) have risen to prominence. FDs have long been the go-to choice for cautious Indian investors, offering a reliable haven for their funds. However, the emergence of SGBs since 2015 has provided a formidable alternative. This evolution can be attributed to the Central Government’s Gold Monetization Scheme, aimed at curbing gold imports Both avenues offer unique advantages, making the choice between SGBs and FDs a critical decision for your financial goals.

What is Fixed Deposits?

Fixed Deposits, a cornerstone of conservative investments, are the preferred choice for risk-averse individuals. These investments operate through banks and financial institutions, involving the deposit of a specific sum for a predetermined period, ranging from months to years. The interest rate, locked in at the outset, remains unchanged throughout the tenure, ensuring a predictable return upon maturity.

Offering a yield superior to standard savings accounts, FDs are exciting for those seeking a stable income stream. The accrued interest typically outpaces inflation, thereby safeguarding the real value of the investment. Notably, FDs receive backing from the Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation of India (DICGC), providing security for deposits of up to Rs. 5 lakh per depositor per bank.

What is a Sovereign Gold Bond?

Sovereign Gold Bonds, a government-backed innovation, allow for gold investments without the need for physical possession. These bonds, issued by the Reserve Bank of India on behalf of the Indian government, offer a unique dimension to diversify portfolios. SGBs are denominated in grams of gold, featuring an 8-year tenure and a 5-year exit option.

The valuation of these bonds, in Indian Rupees, depends on the weekly average closing price of 999-purity gold, as published by the India Bullion and Jewellers Association Limited (IBJA). An annual interest rate of 2.50% enhances the investor’s initial capital, paid out biannually. SGBs are tradable on stock exchanges shortly after issuance, offering liquidity. Furthermore, their convertibility into Demat form and acceptance as loan collateral make them versatile.

Sovereign Gold Bond vs Fixed Deposit

Parameters Sovereign Gold Bond Fixed Deposit (FD)
Meaning A bond is a financial instrument that serves as a loan from an investor to a borrower. Investors receive regular interest payments, and the principal amount is repaid upon maturity. A fixed deposit is a type of financial product where an investor deposits a specific sum for a predetermined period at a fixed interest rate. The principal amount, along with the interest, is returned upon maturity.
Issued By Bonds are issued by various entities, including governments, municipalities, states, and private companies. Fixed deposits are offered by banks, post offices, and non-banking financial companies (NBFCs).
Safety Bonds are considered safe investments as they are backed by physical assets. However, the credit rating of the issuer should be considered for additional security. Fixed deposits are generally considered safe, but they lack physical asset backing. It is crucial to choose reputable institutions for FDs to ensure safety.
Liquidity Bonds are relatively more liquid since they are traded on stock exchanges. However, bond prices can be affected by changes in interest rates, leading to market volatility. Fixed deposits can be withdrawn prematurely, but doing so may incur penalty charges or lower interest rates.
Payout Frequency Investors do not have control over the payout frequency for bonds, which can be half-yearly, yearly, or cumulative at maturity. For fixed deposits, investors can choose their payout frequency based on available options.
Returns Bonds may offer higher returns, especially after accounting for taxes, compared to fixed deposits. Fixed deposits provide a fixed return to investors, offering predictable earnings.
Credit Rating It is mandatory for bond issuers to obtain credit ratings from agencies such as CARE, ICRA, or CRISIL. FFDs issued by NBFCs must be rated, while banks and post offices may not require credit ratings.
Accessibility Bonds may not be as easily accessible to retail investors since they are often bought over the counter. Fixed deposits can be easily opened by investors with banks, post offices, or NBFCs, offering convenience.
Liquidation In the event of bankruptcy and liquidation, bondholders have priority in receiving their payments. Fixed deposits are not backed by specific assets, but they are insured up to Rs.500,000 by DICGC, providing some security.
Taxation Taxation on bond capital gains depends on the holding period. Some government-issued bonds may be tax-free on interest income. Fixed deposits are subject to income tax based on the individual’s applicable tax slab rate. TDS is deducted at 10% for interest income exceeding Rs.40,000 (Rs.50,000 for senior citizens).
80C Deduction Investments in bonds do not qualify for special tax deductions under Section 80C. Investing in tax-saving fixed deposits allows tax deduction up to Rs.150,000 under Section 80C.

 

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Which is Better Option?

SGBs and FDs follow different paths, catering to diverse preferences. While SGBs offer higher returns, they are vulnerable to market fluctuations, potentially impacting gains. In contrast, FDs provide a more conservative yield shielded from market volatility. The choice between the two hinges on risk tolerance and financial objectives. Sound decision-making aligns one’s investment choice with their desired risk-reward balance.

FAQs

How can one invest in gold besides owning physical gold?
In addition to physical gold, contemporary options include digital gold, Sovereign Gold Bonds (SGBs), and Gold ETFs (Equity Traded Funds). These alternatives bypass upkeep costs and may even generate interest.
What risks are associated with Sovereign Gold Bonds?
The primary risk with SGBs lies in potential capital loss. The prices of gold bonds correlate with global gold rates, exposing them to market fluctuations. A decline in gold prices can result in capital depreciation.