More Americans turning to banks for credit

WASHINGTON, Oct 20 (Reuters) - The percentage of U.S. households without a bank account fell last year as more families turned to credit sources that have government backing, according to a report released on Thursday.

Roughly 93 percent of households held bank accounts for services like saving, checking or credit, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

The government agency guarantees as much as $250,000 in customer deposits.

The bi-annual survey of credit access has existed only since 2009, but in that time bank access increased, said FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg.

"As a general matter, looking at the alternatives, I suggest a bank account is still probably the best available option," he told reporters during a conference call on the study.

In September, Wells Fargo said that employees created as many as 2 million accounts without customers' knowledge to satisfy management's demands.

The Wells Fargo fraud "is very serious," Gruenberg said, but customers should not be discouraged from relying on federally insured banks to hold their savings.

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The percentage of black Americans without bank accounts dropped to 18.2 percent from 20.6 percent in the 2013 survey, the FDIC said. For Hispanics, it fell to 16.2 percent from 17.9 percent.

Gruenberg said he hoped the tally of households with bank accounts continues to climb. "Ideally I would like every household to have access (to a bank)," he said. (Reporting by Patrick Rucker; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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