It’s not a given that anyone can open a regular checking account. About 7.7% of American households, or almost 17 million people, are unbanked, and part of the reason involves having bad credit or poor banking histories.
Making mistakes with a bank account, such as not paying overdraft fees, can put you on a list to let other banks know you’re a risky customer, and you might be denied an account because of it.
We give our highest recommendation for the best-in-class institutions that offer a second chance bank account.
Best Checking Accounts of 2020
The BBVA Online Checking Account is our hands-down winner for the best checking account. Unknown to some, BBVA is owned by a multi-billion dollar international bank and has won several awards for their leading products and online services. They are a fully insured FDIC member. Features include mobile deposits, direct deposit, online bill payment, and NO monthly or annual fees. Setting up an account is almost too easy and the smartphone app tools are the best we’ve reviewed. Here are a few of the highlights:
- FREE Visa® debit card you can personalize with your favorite photo
- NO monthly service charge
- Complimentary online banking and mobile banking, bill pay and online statements
- 24/7 customer support
- NO fees at over 64,000 ATMs nationwide (includes BBVA and Allpoint® locations)
- You can apply with only a $25 opening deposit
Applying is simple. The BBVA website is simple and easy to interact with. As stated above, there is a $25 minimum deposit required to open an account and once that deposit clears, you’ll be off and running. Hands down, BBVA is one of the most friendly banks for those who need a second chance at a checking account. The entire process from start to finish takes about 3 minutes.
For anyone interested, I signed up for a BBVA Online Checking account while on ChexSystems. I have been using the new checking account, debit card, online website, direct deposit, and customer service for over a month now. I have to say I am genuinely impressed with everything they have done with me and my account. So far it seems like the ideal bank.
B. Lewis, BBVA Customer
Getting Started Is Easy
Apply and make an initial deposit.
It takes about 3 minutes to sign up. You’ll need to make an initial deposit of $25 to get started. Deposit funds through direct deposit, transfer funds from another account, or deposit directly to BBVA.
Get your Visa card in the mail and set up your online banking account.
You’ll receive your Online Visa card in the mail in 5–7 business days. Then download the BBVA App and set up your account. Managing your account on your phone or computer has never been easier.
Use your BBVA Visa and checking account for all your day-to-day spending. You’ll have total control over your funds and can transfer money, pay bills and withdraw cash. And you can set alerts on the BBVA mobile app to carefully monitor your money.
Chime Bank is a fast-growing internet-only bank. Unlike big banks, Chime was created during the smartphone era and, therefore, features an app that is more than just a way for customers to review their bank accounts.
In our opinion, Chime is the only bank that comes close to BBVA.
- FREE Visa® debit card
- NO monthly fees or service charges
- NO monthly minimums
- FREE online banking and mobile banking/deposits
- NO fees at over 38,000 MoneyPass® and Visa Plus Alliance ATMs worldwide
- SAVINGS: You can round up every purchase to the nearest dollar and automatically deposit that difference into your savings account.
The Peoples Cash Solutions Second Chance Checking Account might be the answer for you. Peoples Bank will open an FDIC insured Second Chance Checking Account for you even if you have bad credit or have been reported to ChexSystems or TeleCheck in the past (except where fraudulent activity has been reported). Available in all 50 states.
- Debit MasterCard®
- Personal checkbook
- Online bill pay
- Online banking
- Online money transfers
- Monthly maintenance fee of $4.95
- $30.00 minimum deposit
The Radius Bank Essential Checking account is a FDIC-insured checking account designed to help you manage your money with powerful technology and limited fees. Available to residents in all 50 states.
- Free MasterCard® debit card
- Free mobile banking with check deposit
- Free online banking with bill pay
- $10 minimum deposit to open account
- Monthly service charge of $9.00
- No minimum balance
- Ability to upgrade account after 12 months of responsible banking
Varo Bank is another internet-only bank with services based on their mobile apps for Apple and Android devices. Varo doesn’t charge fees at 55,000+ Allpoint ATMs and offers strong budgeting tools and automatic savings programs.
When you open an account at Varo you can do so with no initial deposit. Plus, there are never any monthly maintenance fees, foreign transaction fees, transfer fees, or debit card replacement fees.
Finally, if Varo receives a payroll notification before your payday, it can deposit your money more quickly than many banks.
Wells Fargo Opportunity Checking may work out best for those who need a physical branch nearby. There is a monthly fee, but that can be waived with regular use of your account. This account is available to residents in all 50 states.
- The largest number of branches in the U.S.
- Minimum deposit of $25 to open an account
- Online bill pay and smartphone app
- Mobile check deposit
- Includes a Visa debit card and checks
- Additional features include account alerts, 24/7 fraud monitoring, and zero liability protection for your debit card
- $10 monthly maintenance fee, which can be waived by making monthly direct deposits of at least $500, or keeping a $1,500 minimum daily balance, or by making 10 or more debit card transactions during the month.
The Best Second Chance Banks by State
When people apply to open checking accounts, financial institutions screen them to determine how much of a risk they’ll be. About 85% of banks and credit unions in the United States use ChexSystems, a consumer reporting agency that gathers information on closed checking and savings accounts. Consumers with outstanding debts or overdrafts, fraudsters and victims of identity theft may have records on ChexSystems.
When a person with a ChexSystems record tries to open a checking account, it’s up to the financial institution to determine whether to approve that account. ChexSystems reports may or may not be used, as can credit reports.
When people cannot get bank accounts, their alternatives tend to be prepaid debit cards, payday loans and check cashing services, which aren’t always ideal because of transaction fees. They can also be much less convenient, since they may lack features such as online access to funds.
A second chance checking account, however, offers the security of a bank account while letting a consumer rebuild his or her banking history. After a year or two, an account holder may be able to upgrade to a regular checking account.
Unfortunately, some major banks don’t offer second chance checking, but many community banks and credit unions have them under various names, such as Opportunity Checking and Fresh Start Checking.
Some banks and credit unions offer so-called second chance checking accounts to help people rebuild their credit and financial histories. These accounts usually carry monthly fees and come with a few other requirements, such as participating in a financial literacy or money management class. An account holder might also not be eligible for overdraft protection, since second chance banking serves as a way to prevent overdrawing an account altogether.
Here’s an overview of these accounts and where you can find them at branches in your area.