October 25, 2022

FDIC: New National Survey Finds that Despite COVID-19 Pandemic, Record 96% of U.S. Households Were Banked in 2021

Latest FDIC national survey finds record low six million households remain unbanked

Despite unprecedented economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 96 percent of U.S. households were banked in 2021, according to the latest national survey released today by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). The FDIC’s 2021 National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households also found an estimated 4.5 percent of U.S. households (representing 5.9 million households), lacked a bank or credit union account, the lowest national unbanked rate since the FDIC survey began in 2009. 

According to FDIC’s latest biennial survey, approximately 1.2 million more households were banked since 2019. Nearly half of newly banked households that received government payments said these payments contributed to their decision to open an insured bank or credit union account. Meanwhile, 14.1 percent of households (representing 18.7 million households), were underbanked in 2021, meaning they had a bank or credit union account and used nonbank financial products and services.

“During the pandemic, consumers opened bank accounts to access relief funds and other benefits quickly and securely,” said FDIC Acting Chairman Martin J. Gruenberg. “Safe and affordable bank accounts provide a way to bring more Americans into the banking system and will continue to play an important role in advancing economic inclusion for all Americans. Today’s results highlight the importance of ensuring consumers who are receiving benefits or starting a new job, two key bankable moments, can easily find and open a bank account that meets their needs.”

Since 2009, the FDIC has asked households about their use of banking and financial products and services through the most comprehensive survey of its kind. In 2011, 8.2 percent of households were unbanked, the improvement from that point represents 5 million additional households with banking relationships over the most recent decade.

Key findings in the 2021 survey include:

“Banked households appear to be using nonbank online payment services in conjunction with banking products by linking them to credit cards or bank accounts, while unbanked households are frequently using these services in place of a bank account,” said Gruenberg. “The FDIC will continue its educational and outreach efforts to help consumers understand the benefits of a bank account, the consumer protections they afford, and the applicability of deposit insurance.”

The FDIC launched the #GetBanked initiative at the onset of the pandemic as a way to inform consumers about how to open a bank account online and to facilitate the safe and timely distribution of Economic Impact Payments through direct deposit. As part of ongoing efforts to expand financial inclusion, the FDIC began a public awareness campaign in April 2021 with targeted advertising in select cities to promote the benefits of opening a bank account, including access to safer, lower-cost financial products. 

In turn, the FDIC is calling on community groups and government agencies to join the movement and help bring more people into the banking system. To learn more, you can go to www.FDIC.gov/GetBanked and follow the campaign at #GetBanked. 

In partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau, the FDIC conducted the survey in June 2021, 15 months after the COVID-19 pandemic began, collecting responses from more than 30,000 households.

For more information on the survey findings, including custom tables and localized data, visit FDIC.gov/EconomicInclusion.

This post was originally published here.