Bank Branch Visits Way Down

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

Online banking has revolutionized the way people do business with their banks, and one result is that fewer and fewer folks are actually stopping in to branches to do things like deposit checks, make withdrawals, and transfer money.

A new survey showed that almost four out of 10 people haven’t set foot in their bank or credit union in six months or more. In March 2014, the same survey showed that 34% of respondents hadn’t darkened their financial institution’s door—now it’s up to 39%.

The remaining holdouts who do like to visit their actual bank branch seem to go pretty frequently. Out of 45% who reported visiting their bank or credit union in the last month, 26% had been there in the last week.

Age difference doesn’t make a difference

While you might think that younger folks—Millennials, Generation Y, or whatever you like to call them—would be the ones least likely to go to their brick-and-mortar bank, the survey doesn’t bear that out. The financial institution frequenters were about the same across age groups. Forty-one percent of Millennials had visited a branch in the last month while 48% of people ages 50 through 64 had dropped in for an actual visit.

There wasn’t a significant different between genders, either. Men and women were equally likely to be seen in a bank branch. Perhaps surprisingly, the difference was seen between income brackets. Higher income folks were more likely to have visited a bank branch, and as income levels declined, so did the likelihood of the respondent having visited a branch of their financial institution.

The reason behind the visit

An analyst with the survey said that people tended to go to the bank to consult with bank staff, not to make everyday transactions. That makes sense, since most transactions can be done these days without visiting a teller window.

People can make deposits using an app on their phone, get cash from an ATM, and transfer funds online or via smartphone. There is very little that can’t be done remotely, in terms of common bank transactions.

Prepaid cards are a wild card

Another factor may be that many people are using prepaid cards instead of having a traditional checking account. These cards often do not have the fees associated with bank accounts, and they allow folks to get paychecks direct deposited, transfer money, and make purchases. As their popularity increases, bank branch visits may continue to plummet.

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