Why Millions of Americans Don’t Use Banks

6.20 FB1 Why Millions of Americans Don’t Use Banks

If you’ve decided to steer clear of banks, you’re not alone. Endless fees, unclear policies and high minimum balance requirements have led millions of Americans to avoid banks.

The percentage of banks that offer free checking keeps shrinking. Fee amounts keep growing.  The rules keep getting more complicated. And what happens if you need to apply for a loan? When it comes to short-term credit, the closest thing many banks offer is overdraft coverage.

An overdraft happens when you have a transaction that pushes your checking account balance into negative territory. If this happens and you’ve opted in to your bank’s overdraft coverage program, your bank will typically cover the shortage in exchange for a fee.

According to a report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the median overdraft fee in the U.S. is $34. The report also found that most overdraft fees are charged on transactions of $24 or less. Here’s the eye-opening part: borrowing $24 for 3 days for a fee of $34 translates into an annual percentage rate (APR) of 17,000 %! Another turn-off for many people is the confusing way that banks present their fees and terms.

So if people are using banks less often, where do they go to get short-term loans and other services – like check cashing and prepaid debit cards? Many are turning to payday lenders. Reputable payday lending operations charge simple, clear-cut fees. Their terms are explained right up front.

People who don’t feel their needs are served by banks go to payday lenders for another important reason. Many payday lenders have small store operations where the employees really get to know their customers. Employees come to understand what their customers need. Customers come to understand that they’re more than just an account number – and that can make all the difference in the world.

 Why Millions of Americans Don’t Use Banks

About Donna Parshall

Donna is a regular contributor to Dollars and Sense, covering topics related to personal finance and frugal living. Before Check ‘n Go, she worked for more than 20 years in the insurance and investment industries. Donna’s writing has also appeared in Cox Media Group newspapers.