About 10 million Americans don't have bank accounts, according to the U.S. Treasury. Without them, they must pay to cash their pay checks (3 percent of the check's value is not uncommon). And they buy money orders to pay bills. They aren't building a credit record needed to get good mortgage rates, and they may not be saving.

Though banks haven't done much to seek their business, individuals are responsible for being un-banked. Low-income people would be better off if they had checking and savings accounts rather than carry their money with them.

Oddly, there are workers with high-paying jobs who don't have bank accounts. Sometimes it's because of a bad experience they had in the past, like having to pay for returned checks when they forgot to put the money in the bank. These people would be better off going back to banking and doing a better job of it this time around.

People who are new to the U.S. often distrust banks or are afraid of them. But they still need to cash checks, wire money to relatives, pay bills, and borrow in a pinch. The best way to do these things is with a bank account.

Paying bills with money orders from check-cashing outlets costs much more than using a checking account, and those who buy them are not moving into the financial mainstream.

The government is concerned about its un-banked citizens, but hasn't done much to move them into the mainstream. Right now, the Treasury is encouraging banks to offer accounts to high-school students, betting on a get-them-while-they're-young approach.