Survey: Number of households without bank accounts fell in 2013

The number of U.S. households without bank accounts fell last year amid an improving economy and changing demographics, according to a new survey.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) said Wednesday that their latest report shows that the proportion of households without bank accounts declined to 7.7 percent last year from 8.2 percent in 2011.

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Meanwhile, the share of those who had a bank account but used other non-bank financial services remained essentially unchanged at 20 percent, the report showed.

Last year, households had slightly higher levels of employment and income, and were slightly older and better educated, all factors linked to a greater chance of having a bank account.

Non-Asian minorities, lower-income, younger and unemployed households were the most likely to not have a bank account, with the numbers remaining about the same between 2011 and 2013.

One exception in the data showed up among Hispanic households who didn't have bank accounts — the percentage dropped to 17.9 from 20.1 percent.

"Improvements in economic conditions and changing demographics among Hispanic households over this period explain nearly half of the reduction in the unbanked rate among this population," the report said.

In 2013, Hispanic households had higher levels of employment, income and education. 

Overall, there are about 9.6 million households without bank accounts representing 25 million people.

Those without accounts — 35.6 percent — said the main reason for not having an account was because of insufficient money or the inability to meet minimum balance requirements.

Of those without accounts, 34.1 percent said that they had recently closed an account because of either a significant drop in income or job loss.

Meanwhile, 20 percent, or 24 million households, were underbanked in 2013, amounting to about 68 million people.

The comprehensive report, which is conducted every two years, provides the banking industry and policy makers with insights and guidance on the demographics and needs of those without accounts.

"The findings of this survey add to our understanding of the challenges facing unbanked and underbanked households and underscore the value of the FDIC's partnership with the Census to do this survey every two years," said FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg.

In some new questions on the 2013 survey, nearly two out of three households said they access their bank accounts primarily with bank tellers or online.

Notably, underbanked households, were more likely to use mobile banking devices relative to other groups.

Other key findings of the survey include:

• 22.3 percent of households without accounts reported using a prepaid debit card in the prior 12 months, compared with 13.1 percent of underbanked and 5.3 percent of fully banked households.

• 88.4 percent of all U.S. households owned a checking account in 2013, while 68.8 percent had a savings account.

• 80.3 percent of households with accounts had money directly deposited into a bank account or automatically transferred funds between accounts.