The composition of financial services relative to one another may matter for financial access. For example, households may have a more difficult time using safe and affordable financial services when they live in communities that have more alternative financial services (AFS) like payday lenders and check cashers than mainstream financial services like banks and credit unions. Indeed, households tend to have poorer financial health when they live in communities with more AFS than mainstream financial services. And, in some communities, the locations of AFS far outnumber those of mainstream financial services. For example, in Park County, CO, there are three AFS for every bank or credit union branch. What is the ratio of alternative to mainstream financial services in counties across the United States?
The ratio of alternative to mainstream financial services can also be explored relative to counties’ demographics, such as median household income and percent minority population. For an in-depth exploration of county-level ratios, please visit here. For example, there is one AFS for every bank or credit union in Clarke County, Alabama, where the median household income is nearly $31,000 and 46% of the population identifies as being from a racial or ethnic minority group.