These articles bring to a conclusion a two-week-long series reporting on the annual American Banker/Gallup consumer survey. The results came from interviews of 1,031 heads of financial-consumer households - people with at least one deposit or loan account with any type of institution - conducted by telephone between Sept. 5 and Oct. 5.

The series at a glance:

Dec. 23 - Financial institution choices and customer satisfaction.

*Consumers naming a commercial bank their principal institution dipped below 50% for the first time.

*Satisfaction with principal institutions slid overall. Declines at banks and credit unions were not offset by improvements among thrifts and nondepository providers.

Dec. 26 - Confidence in the banking and financial system.

*Even with consumer confidence at a cyclical high, one out of six still considers the financial structure unhealthy.

Dec. 27 - IRAs and IRA alternatives.

*Consumer interest in IRA-like accounts for medical costs, education, or down payments on a home could revitalize the tax-deferred savings account market.

Dec. 30 - Investment products.

*Interest in buying mutual funds, insurance, and other nontraditional products from banks may be peaking.

Dec. 31 - Use of branches.

*Nearly half of consumers visit branches three or more times a month. Only seniors and low-income people do so significantly less.

Jan. 2 - Plastic cards and automated teller machines.

*Visa widened its lead as "card used most often," beating MasterCard by 44% to 21%.

*Debit-card ownership jumped to 40% from 32% in two years; ATM cards held steady at 66%.

Today - Home banking.

*Only 3% have banked by personal computer, and PC banking is not growing nearly as fast as on-line service or Internet use. But 65% said they have used a telephone banking service.

American Banker is preparing a more extensive report with these articles and additional tabulations and commentary from Gallup. For information call the reprint department: 800-367-3989 or 212-803-8368.

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