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Record Low 4.5% of US Households Have No Bank Access

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Only 4.5% of U.S. households were unbanked in 2021—the lowest since the government started keeping track in 2009.

That’s according to a report released Tuesday by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, an agency that regulates banks. The share of unbanked households—that is, households where no one has a checking or savings account at a bank or credit union—peaked at 8.2% in 2011 and has steadily improved since then. The 4.5%, however, still represents 5.9 million households.1 

Households without bank accounts are forced to meet their financial needs by using expensive and exploitative alternatives to mainstream financial services, such as payday loans and check cashing businesses. The FDIC survey showed the most common reason for people remaining unbanked was not having enough money to maintain minimum balances required by banks. 

The FDIC’s survey of unbanked and underbanked households, conducted every two years, showed that the unbanked rate dropped from 5.4% in 2019 to 4.5% in 2021 mainly because people wanted a safe and easy way to access pandemic emergency relief aid, such as stimulus checks.2 

Have a question, comment, or story to share? You can reach Diccon at dhyatt@thebalance.com.

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