Women lead the world in every aspect, be it in politics, science, entrepreneurship, defence, education and any other sphere. In the world of finance and investments too, the participation of women is the key. In India, the involvement of women as financial decision makers has grown steadily in the last decade. This has been partly helped by banks and financial institutions offering attractive products focused on women’s needs.
Why are women-friendly investment and finance products required?
The investment and financial needs of women are, to a degree, different from those of a male customer. Working women often juggle responsibilities in their careers and at home, together. Therefore, they need greater flexibility and greater rewards from a financial product. A higher ROI for women investors could promote greater financial inclusion.
There are several women-oriented investment and finance products available in the market. So let’s check each one by one.
Cheaper home and car loans for women
Several banks allow home loans at a concessional rate to woman applicants. The interest rate is offered at .05% to .2% lower than normal rates. For getting these discounts, there is a prerequisite that she be the main applicant and owner or co-owner of the property that is to be financed.
Benefits in home loan promotes women empowerment. Further to this interest rate benefit, there are several states in India which offer discounts on stamp duty charges to women buying homes.
Similarly, several banks offer car loan to women applicants at a lower than normal rates. Here too, it is mandatory that the primary loan applicant be a woman.
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Home and car loan interest for women borrowers
*Interest rates taken from respective bank’s website as on March 7, 2017.
Savings account for women customers
Many banks have savings account products for women, customised to their special needs. Women-oriented accounts offer extra benefits over the regular accounts such as a lower minimum balance, insurance benefits, unlimited cash withdrawal benefit, additional rewards and discounts.
Some women- exclusive savings accounts and its benefits are mentioned in the table below:
Benefits of Savings account for women
Note: Data taken from respective bank’s website as on March 7, 2017.
Debit and credit cards for women
Banks offer debit cards specifically customized to the needs of women customers. For example, HDFC Bank has an Easy Shop Woman’s Advantage card, Citibank offers Woman’s Visa Silver card, Standard Chartered has a Diva card, while IDBI, YES Bank and several other banks offer women-centric debit cards.
Such cards come loaded with several offers depending on the banks. Offers may include accidental, life and health cover, critical illness cover, jewellery insurance, attractive reward points on card purchases etc.
Like debit cards, there are some credit cards in the market specifically designed for women. These include Kotak Silk Inspire Platinum Credit Card that offers 5X reward points on apparels, HDFC Premium Women’s Credit Card that offers attractive shopping benefits, and so on.
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Insurance products for women
Insurance companies have designed special life and health products focussed on women.
Life insurance products such as HDFC Life Smart Woman Plan, SBI Smart Women Advantage, LIC’s Jeevan Bharti Plan etc. offer schemes that vary from life cover and money back to a simple term plan. The companies consider the requirements of women while designing such products.
Among health insurance plans, Tata AIG offers Wellsurance Women Policy. Bajaj Allianz offers a women-specific critical illness cover designed to cover women-centric illnesses. There are many other health policies by various companies that cover maternity-related costs and women-centric ailments.
Apart from car and home loans, there are some banks that offer special rates for women customers for gold loan, education loan, personal loan, etc. For women entrepreneurs, banks offer loans on easy terms and lower interest rates. For example, Dena Bank has Dena Shakti for women entrepreneurs, and Corporation Bank has Corp Mahila Power as personal loan for women that offer lower interest rates than regular loans.
The BFSI sector provides several benefits to women looking for a personal finance product suited to them. All they need to do is a little bit of research. For making their search easy, they can always compare and buy products with online aggregators.
(The writer is CEO, bankbazaar.com)