The FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) has released findings from its “2011 National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households” and it shows very clearly that thousands and thousands of Americans are leaving the traditional banking system. They are replacing it with pre-paid debit cards and payday loans.

The study found that 28.3% of US households are either underbanked or unbanked altogether.  8.2% are unbanked representing ten million households.  The remainder (20.1) is classified as underbanked; this represents 24 million homes.

Under findings include: 29.3% of US households do not have a savings account and 10% do not have a checking account.  Only about 2/3 of households have both.

The FDIC estimates that roughly 25% of all households have used an Alternative Financial Service (AFS) in the last year.  Almost more surprisingly, 12% of all US households have used an AFS in the last 30 days.

The groups most likely to use AFS products are black and Hispanic households.  Only 41.6% of black households are fully banked and 48.7% of Hispanic households.  With head of household under age 24, only 49.7% are fully banked.

The first FDIC study of this issue took place in 2009.  Since then 821,000 households have joined the ranks of the unbanked.

Some consumers choose to use AFS services despite their often additional expense.  They find them faster, more convenient and less expensive.  Yes, to many of the respondents, (there were 45,000 total respondents) traditional banking is considered more expensive than the oft-criticized Alternative banking services.