SBI lowers minimum balance requirement to Rs3,000, cuts penalties

State Bank of India (SBI) on Monday announced a reduction in the minimum balance requirement for savings account holders to Rs3,000 from the Rs5,000 prescribed in April  while exempting pensioners and minors from the minimum balance requirement for savings accounts.

The minimum balance requirements for semi-urban and rural branches will, however, remain unchanged at Rs2,000 and Rs1,000, respectively.

The country's largest lender also revised downwards penalties for not maintaining such a balance.

Accordingly, pensioners, beneficiaries of social benefits from government and minors will be exempt from the requirement of minimum balance in savings account.

In April this year, SBI reintroduced charges on non-maintenance of monthly average balance (MAB) after a gap of five years.

In metropolitan areas the minimum balance requirement was Rs5,000. For urban and semi-urban branches, it was fixed at Rs 3,000 and Rs 2,000, respectively, and for rural branches it was Rs1,000.

''We have decided to treat the metro and urban centres in the same category and the requirement of MAB in metro centres stands reduced to Rs 3,000,'' the bank said. Last week, managing director for national banking group, Rajnish Kumar, had said the lender was reviewing the average monthly balance requirement.

The lender also revised downwards the penalty for non-maintenance of MAB. ''For non-maintenance of MAB, the charges have also been revised downwards ranging from 20-50 per cent across all population groups and categories,'' the bank said.

Now, the penalty for non-maintenance of minimum balance at semi-urban and rural centres will range from Rs20 to Rs40 and at urban and metro centres from Rs30 to Rs 50, the bank said.

Earlier, in the metros, the bank was charging Rs100 plus GST if the balance fell below 75 per cent of the MAB of Rs5,000. If the shortfall was 50 per cent or less, the penalty charge was Rs50 plus GST.

Any shortfall in maintaining minimum average balance in rural areas was attracting a penalty in the range of Rs20 to Rs50 plus GST. The bank reiterated that basic savings bank deposit and PM's Jan-Dhan accounts are not required to maintain the minimum balance. The lender has 420 million savings bank accounts of which 130 million belong to this category.

''It has now been decided to exempt the pensioners, beneficiaries of social benefits from government and accounts of minors. The revision is likely to benefit another 5 crore account holders,'' the bank said.