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Regional and Generational Differences in Consumer Banking Attitudes in the US

Regional and Generational Differences in Consumer Banking Attitudes in the US

Last year at EPAM we surveyed 26,000 banking customers across eight countries to discover the emerging trends, attitudes and behaviors influencing the retail banking landscape. Following that survey, we published the results, which highlighted several interesting differences among banking customers globally. Of the 26,000 consumers surveyed, 5,000 were from the US. As such, we wondered what differences in attitudes and expectations might exist amongst US consumers across various geographies and demographics.

Where do Americans bank?

We were not surprised to find that 43% of consumers we surveyed consider a megabank (Citi, Wells Fargo, Bank of America or Chase) their primary bank. Meanwhile, nearly a third say they bank outside the top 10 banks.  

There were some interesting differences in primary bank choice by demographics:

  • By gender identity, those that identify as non-binary were less likely to bank with a megabank (36%) than those that identify as male or female.
  • Older consumers seem to prefer smaller banks. Boomers were less likely to bank with the megabanks (36%), while Millennials were more likely to do so (48%). Boomers tended to prefer regional and community banks (41%).

Regionally, there weren’t any big differences in the types of banks consumers preferred, except in the Midwest. Those from the Midwest were less likely to bank with megabanks (34%), preferring regional and community banks. West coasters were much more likely to bank with megabanks (53%), perhaps having to do with penetration of all four banks in West Coast markets.

Interestingly, respondents who identified as technically savvy were more likely to bank with one of the top 10 banks. Those who described themselves as early adopters were most likely to utilize a megabank (52%) versus self-described digital avoiders at 38%. One hypothesis for this might be that the bigger banks are perceived to offer more digital capabilities. 

How do American choose a bank?

Gender identity didn’t seem to make that much difference on the reasons why Americans chose a particular bank. However, women were less likely to rank trust, brand recognition and digital experiences as deciding factors as highly as men and non-binary consumers.

On the other hand, reasons for choosing a particular bank did appear to correlate to age. The older the consumer, the more important location became as a deciding factor. Only 19% of Gen Zers cited location as a factor in choosing a bank. That rate increased for Millennials to 28%, Gen Xers at 35% and Boomers at 47%. The Silent Generation chose location as the most important factor by far, at 54%. 

How happy are Americans with their bank?

Happiness with current primary banks was high overall (81%). However, non-binary consumers expressed a lower level of happiness (67%), choosing slightly happy to neutral more often than those who identified as male or female. The older the consumer, the more likely they reported being extremely happy with their primary bank. Gen Zers were twice as likely to be unhappy (8%) than the rest of the age cohorts (4%). Geographically, we saw no significant differences between different regions of the country.

Why would Americans change banks?

When it came to factors that could motivate US consumers to change banks, the top responses were good interest rates (25%), reduced fees (20%), better customer service (17%), inviting welcome offers (16%) and branch location (15%). However, reasons to change banks differed by age. 

The younger the consumer, the more likely that good interest rates, reduced fees, security and digital experiences were cited as reasons to change banks. The older the consumer, the more likely they were to respond that they wouldn’t consider switching banks. Nearly half of Silent Generation (49%) responders said they wouldn’t switch versus the overall average of 26%. By region, the only difference we saw was those living in the Northeast, as they were slightly more motivated by good interest rates (29%) versus the national average (25%).

How satisfied are Americans with digital banking experiences?

While 82% of all consumers said they were satisfied with their bank’s digital experiences, only 66% of non-binary consumers agreed. Millennials, Gen Xers and Boomers were close to the average on their level of satisfaction with digital experiences, while Gen Zers (78%) and Silent Generation (74%) reported lower levels of satisfaction with digital banking experiences. This might indicate Gen Zers and Silent Generation consumers have higher expectations for their bank than other age cohorts. By region, we saw no differences in satisfaction with digital experiences. 

Do Americans trust their bank?

Interestingly, the younger the respondent, the less trust they had for their bank. Gen Zers demonstrated the lowest level of trust by generation at 69%, while the Silent Generation expressed the highest level of trust at 84%. 

While reasons for trusting banks seemed largely similar across all ages, two factors stood out. The older the consumer, the less likely they were to choose agreement with the institution’s values as a reason to trust their banks. Gen Zers cited this as a reason for trust in their bank at 17%, Millennials 16%, Gen Xers 11%, Boomers 8% and Silent Generation at 4%. 

Similarly, the belief that, “the bank does the right thing for society and the future” was cited more often by younger consumers. These differences may point to shifting expectations for corporations by different generations.

US consumers trust their primary bank (78% across all demographics) much more than FinTech firms (44%) or BigTech companies (52%). Within FinTech, consumers trust peer-to-peer payments (e.g., PayPal, Venmo, Cash App) at 55% versus Buy Now Pay Later providers (e.g., Klarna, Afterpay) at 49%, and crypto exchanges (e.g., Coinbase, Kraken) at an appalling 26%. Within BigTech firms, Google (54%) and Apple (53%) were more trusted than Amazon (49%) or Facebook (38%).

How are Americans using banks?

Across the board, 85% of Americans said they have used their branch within the last year. Women were less likely to use a branch within the last year (84%) than men and non-binary consumers (90% each). Similarly, men were much more likely to have used the branch weekly (34%) than women (22%) and non-binary consumers (20%).  

Looking at age, younger consumers are more likely to visit a branch on a weekly basis, with 35% of Gen Zers and 37% of Millennials saying they visit weekly, while 22% of Gen Xers, 17% of Boomers and 22% of the Silent Generation visited weekly. 

Geographically, those living in the Mid-Atlantic and Southern regions of the US were more likely to use the branch than those in other regions of the country. Equally as interesting, they also reported using the branch at the highest weekly and monthly rates.

Overall, 87% of Americans report using their bank’s website and this correlated to age as well. Twenty percent of Americans say they use a bank’s website daily, yet the younger cohorts (Gen Z at 20% and Millennials at 25%) reported using the website daily more often than older cohorts (~16%). 

On average, 84% of Americans say they use their bank’s mobile app, which also correlated to age. The younger the consumer, the more likely they are to use the app. However, there was a stark difference between Millennials and Gen Zers. While both groups reported using the app regularly (94%), Millennials use the app more often than Gen Zers on a daily basis (43% to 30%) and on a weekly basis (76% to 63%). Geographically, those in the New England region use their bank’s mobile app at the highest rates (88%) compared to the national average (84%).

Ultimately, the older the consumer, the more likely they were to state they prefer to bank in person or that it’s easier to go to the branch. Conversely, the younger the consumer, the more likely they were to report they prefer not to go to the branch but were forced to do so because of digital experience shortcomings. 

What bank features matter to American consumers?

When asked to pick the most important features of a bank account there were some very clear differences by age. “No account fees” was the most common response by all age cohorts. However, the younger the consumer, the less important this single feature was. Among Gen Z, 33% responded “No account fees” versus the Silent Generation at 74%. Proximity to branches was the second highest ranked feature on average at 38%, but only 17% of Gen Zers ranked it here versus 67% of the Silent Generation. 

While 47% of consumers noted that they would be willing to pay for personalized advice, only 40% of women agreed. By age, the younger the consumer, the more likely that they would be willing to pay for personalized financial advice. Gen Zers agreed with this notion at 73%, while on the other end of the spectrum, only 19% of the Silent Generation agreed.


As bankers think about what their customers want or need, it is easy to fall into stereotypes based on demographic, such as age, geography and gender identity. The results of this survey confirm some of those assumptions, such as preferences for physical versus digital channels based on age. On the other hand, sometimes these assumptions failed to match the reality of our survey results. This was especially evident in the way younger consumers showed a preference for more frequent branch visits than older consumers.

When it comes to research like this, we always encourage organizations to use surveys as a data point, enhanced by qualitative analysis of customers or prospects. Survey respondents aren’t always the best judges of their own experience. One-on-one interviews and ethnographic studies can surface reasons for consumer behaviors that can bring a much richer understanding.


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