Overheard In 10 Million American Households: Bank Account? What Bank Account?

I used to know a guy who kept his money hidden in his home because he didn’t trust banks. Like, all of it. He would never tell me where, obviously, guess though I may (Freezer? Under the mattress? Behind the “secret” DVD collection?). He isn’t alone — there are 10 million American households that don’t have bank accounts, a number that is increasing every day.

The most common reason households said they didn’t have any kind of bank account is because they don’t have enough money to open one and keep it funded, according to 33% of  respondents the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation surveyed. In 2009, 7.7%, or 9 million households, didn’t have accounts and instead rely on prepaid cards, payday loans or other services to get cash.

A checking account is not an easy thing for many people, especially when banks aren’t too keen on working with consumers who aren’t seen as desirable, reports CNN.

“[There’s a] declining availability of free checking — and a lot of that is banks pushing out unprofitable customers,” said a senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com.  “And if you have a tendency to overdraft accounts and fees are $35 a pop, that’s really going to prompt you to not open an account.”

While some can’t face the financial challenges, there are 21% of households who just don’t want or need an account; 7.5% that don’t trust banks; 5.4% that can’t open accounts due to lack of required ID or bad credit and another 6.4% that used to have an account but the bank closed it.

Many of these households use alternative financial services to get their hands on the cash they need to use in daily life, and 12% of households have used one of those means in the last 30 days. And if households aren’t using only cash, many get prepaid cards, at 18% of non-bank households.

10 million U.S. households don’t have bank accounts [CNNMoney]