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The Source: San Antonio's "Unbanked"

"2013 FDIC Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households"
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

San Antonio got some unexpected and  good news last week. According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the rate of "unbanked" households--those who do not have a bank account--dropped by almost half since the last survey done in 2011.  The biennial survey showed San Antonio drop from a 15.5 percent to 8.1 percent for households classified as unbanked.

The rate has often been referred to as a sign of economic health at the ground level. In addition to lacking requisite funds, the lack of a bank account usually means the lack any relationship with a bank and access to affordable and fair lines of credit. This makes these communities vulnerable to predatory lending.

Unfortunately, this nearly cut in half statistic, though exciting on its face,  is only half the story. The city has a perniciously high rate of the "underbanked," or households who have a bank account but have accessed nontraditional lines of credit like payday lenders or check caching centers, over the previous 12 months. That figure went up one percent to more than 27 percent of San Antonio households.

Both numbers are above the national average with 7.7 Percent or 9.6 million unbanked households  and 20.7 percent or 24.8 million underbanked households.

San Antonio residents also has the highest average debt load of major cities in Texas  at $30,293 according to  the credit monitoring company Experian. Dallas and Houston--like San Antonio--are above the national average.

What is San Antonio doing to address these issues of debt and access to banking?


  • Richard Keith, assistant director of Human Services at the City of San Antonio
  • Ashley Harris, vice president of corporate communications at Generations Federal Credit Union, a credit union with a mandate to assist the low-income