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Research shows 1 in 20 households earn "Superbanked" status with multiple accounts

By , CardRatings contributor
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Approximately 5 percent of American households carry multiple accounts at multiple banks, according to new research from Scarborough. The consumer insight firm launched a study of "atypical bankers," Americans who either avoid traditional financial institutions or choose to spread credit cards and other accounts across many different banks and brokerages.

Though numerous studies have focused on "underbanked" Americans, Scarborough's focus on atypical banking use uncovered an almost equal percentage of consumers who have broken from accepted personal finance practices. Instead of remaining loyal to a single bank or credit union, the superbanked spread accounts across multiple companies.

High credit card usage among superbanked consumers

93 percent of superbanked consumers in Scarborough's study reported using a credit card of some kind during the past three months. When opening up their wallets, survey respondents told researchers that their credit card brand loyalty broke down this way:

  • Visa: 68%
  • MasterCard: 48%
  • Retail/Department Store: 30%
  • American Express: 29%
  • Discover: 23%
  • Gas Credit Card: 11%

The overlapping percentages reflect how most superbanked Americans carry multiple credit cards, leveraging loyalty rewards points and rebate programs to save money.

Superbanked doesn't mean affluent

Scarborough Vice President Alisa Joseph revealed that some of her team's findings fly in the face of conventional banking wisdom. For instance, consumers who juggle multiple rewards credit cards don't always fit the affluent stereotypes portrayed on television. 28 percent of superbanked consumers in the study reported household incomes less than $50,000 per year. Meanwhile, consumers with annual incomes higher than $150,000 comprised just 17 percent of superbanked participants.

"Financial institutions tend to think of Unbanked Consumers as lower income and Superbanked Consumers as affluent," Joseph wrote in her team's report. "Though there is some truth to these concepts, it is essential for marketers and financial institutions to look beyond the stereotypes in order to reach less frequently accessed audiences on the atypical banking spectrum." Joseph's report is available at no charge on Scarborough's website.

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