Mutual Funds - Difference between bank Deposits and Debt Funds


The majority of investors consider debt fund as an alternative to the fixed deposits or as a rival to the bank’s fixed deposit. One of the reasons for this misconception is because due to their similar serving nature in the portfolio. But in reality this is not so. There are some crucial differences between the two which every investor should be familiar with. The preliminary differentiation comes in the segment of - safety and taxation, ultimately affecting the returns.


Fixed Income

Debt Fund

How to invest?

FD are offered by most of the banks

You could visit or contact a Mutual Fund house when required to invest in a direct plan

Also, one can also invest online through brokerage houses, like ICICI, Kotak etc., or through agents. However, this will charge commission around 0.5 per cent.


Moderate:Generally, premature withdrawal is allowed but it usually comes with a penalty of 1 per cent on the interest rates for which the deposit is kept

An investor can seek a loan against FD

High: Redemption can be made any day. Usually, there are no charges for redemptions after 1 year. However, an exit load of 1 per cent is generally applicable if the units are redeemed before 1 year


As per the current tax slabs (10, 20 or 30 percent)

If your interest income exceeds 10,000 a year, the bank will deduct 10.3% from this income

Minimum 10 per cent flat or 20 per cent with indexation (explained earlier)


Interest rates on bank fixed deposits (FDs) have touched 7.5-9.0%

The average short-term debt fund has given 9.8% returns in the past year, some long-term bond funds have shot up by 14-15% during the same period. However, returns in the short term could also be negative



A MF usually has a fund management charge of around 0.5%. This can be reduced by investing in direct plans. However, if you have invested through a broker, the broker may also charge you around 0.5%

Interest Rate

Fixed for the entire tenure (Present 7.5-9.0%)

MFs are actively managed and the fund usually seeks to generate returns from various instruments offering different interest rates as per the interest cycles

Underlying Assets


Government bonds, treasury bills, bank bonds, corporate CDs, etc.

Guaranteed Returns


Theoretically, no, as these funds are linked to the market and subject to interest rate and credit risks. However, chances of a default are very minimal and hence debts funds are practically safe and give positive returns.


Let’s understand this with an example: Suppose you had invested 10,000, three years back, i.e. in 2011-12, into a fixed deposit offering an interest rate of 10% p.a. and also in a debt mutual fund, offering same 10% p.a. return for 3 years.


Fixed deposit (FD)

Debt fund

Invested amount



Interest after 3 years



Capital gain after 3 years



Indexed cost*



Taxable capital gain (13,331 - 13,044)



Tax to be paid:

As per income slab

20% after indexation

10% Slab



20% Slab



30% Slab



Overall Return (20% slab)



*Indexed cost refers to the cost of your investment, if you were to invest the same, on the date of selling it. It is calculated using the Cost of Inflation Index (CII).


The goal of any investor is to make wealth to fulfill their needs in the future. For an investor with low-risk appetite, protection of investment amount is very important. However, there should be financial investments for liquidity during emergency. You also need investments for the means of capital appreciation.

  • If you seek capital appreciation and tax benefits, along with reasonable safety on capital, then debt funds are the better than fixed deposit.
  • If it is the question of capital safety to investor then fixed deposits would be the right option.


Source : eCRM Team back