Record Americans have bank accounts, powered by pandemic funds

A record number of American households had bank accounts in 2021, according to a survey released Tuesday by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).

The FDIC said its 2021 National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households found that a record 95.5% of American households held a checking or savings account with a bank or credit union. Only 4.5%, representing roughly 5.9 million households, did not have one, marking the lowest proportion of “unbanked” since 2009.

A record number of American households had bank accounts in 2021, according to an FDIC survey. (iStock/iStock)

One factor that contributed to the lower “unbanked” households in 2021 was people opening accounts in order to receive government benefit payments like stimulus checks or unemployment benefits, according to the FDIC.

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The survey found that 44.8% of “recently banked” households that “received a government benefit during the pandemic” reported the payment factored into their decision to get one. The FDIC categorized households that had a bank account at the time of the survey but did not have one at some point between March 2020 and June 2021 as “recently banked.”

The survey found that 44.8% of “recently banked” households that “received a government benefit during the pandemic” reported the payment factored into their decision to get one. (iStock/iStock)

“During the pandemic, consumers opened bank accounts to access relief funds and other benefits quickly and securely,” FDIC Acting Chairman Martin Gruenberg said in a statement.

Other economic factors like starting a new job or seeing a significant jump in income also contributed to household opening bank accounts last year, the survey found.

The survey found that minority households had higher rates of not having bank accounts in 2021. About 11.3% of Black households and 9.3% of Hispanic households lacked accounts, whereas 2.1% of white households were “unbanked.”

The proportions of Black and Hispanic households without bank accounts went down 2.5% and 2.9%, respectively, from 2019, according to the survey.

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Among all households without bank accounts last year, 21.7% said not having sufficient funds to meet minimum balance requirements was the main reason, according to the survey. About 13.2% cited not trusting banks as their main reason.

Among all households without bank accounts last year, 21.7% said not having sufficient funds to meet minimum balance requirements was the main reason, according to the survey.

The survey found that 53.6% of households without bank accounts said they were “not at all interested” in getting one. However, more than 27% expressed some level of interest in opening one.

The survey was conducted in partnership with the Census Bureau among more than 30,000 households in June 2021.

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