Best second-chance checking accounts

Our top 5 picks can help if you have poor credit or a troubled financial past.

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If your past includes bounced checks or overdrafts, you know how difficult it can be to rebuild strong banking relationships. Second-chance checking accounts can offer a fresh financial start beyond expensive debit cards or check-cashing companies.

What’s changed in 2020?

We removed the First National Bank and Trust Company Renew Checking account from our list because it’s only available to customers who lived in select areas of Illinois and Wisconsin. We replaced it with the Chime Spending account, which has no fees and is available nationwide. We considered replacing the BBVA Easy Checking for one with a lower monthly fee. But since the account is more widely available in comparison to others we found, we kept it on our list.

Chime Spending account

  • Monthly fee: $0
  • Minimum deposit: $0
  • Availability: Nationwide
Chime Spending account is a digital checking account that comes with a free savings account when you sign up. With these linked accounts, you can enable features that let you automatically save 10% of every paycheck and save your spare change by rounding up your debit card purchases to the nearest dollar.

Wells Fargo Opportunity Checking

  • Monthly fee: $10
  • Minimum deposit: $25
  • Availability: 39 states

Wells Fargo waives the $10 monthly fee for this second-chance checking account if you meet a transaction, deposit or balance requirement. The minimum opening deposit is $25, and the account is available in all 39 states where a Wells Fargo branch is located, plus Washington, D.C.

BBVA bank logo

BBVA Easy Checking

  • Monthly fee: $13.95
  • Minimum deposit: $25
  • Availability: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico and Texas

The BBVA Easy Checking is for those who are unable to open a BBVA Free Checking account. It has an unavoidable monthly fee, but BBVA will upgrade you to a free checking account if your second-chance account is in good standing after 12 months.

Peoples Cash Solutions logo

Peoples Cash Solutions Second Chance Checking

  • Monthly fee: $4.95
  • Minimum deposit: $30
  • Availability: Nationwide

The Cash Solutions second-chance checking account is open to anyone with a past ChexSystems denial. Open your account with a $30 deposit and pay a $4.95 monthly fee to deposit cash, pay bills online and access worldwide ATMs.

Radius Bank logo

Radius Bank Essential Checking

  • Monthly fee: $9
  • Minimum deposit: $10
  • Availability: Nationwide

Radius Essential Checking works like a prepaid debit card, but with the added benefit of FDIC protection. To qualify for this account, you must first be denied for a Radius Rewards or Superhero Checking account.

What is ChexSystems?

ChexSystems is a credit reporting agency focused on deposit accounts — like savings and checking accounts. Similar to the major credit bureaus, it gathers the details of your banking history in a report that financial institutions review before approving you for accounts.

Your ChexSystems reports can include any unpaid fees, negative balances, bounced checks and fraudulent activity over the most recent five years. Also like the credit bureaus, ChexSystems is required to provide you with one free copy of your report each year.

How to compare second-chance bank accounts

Many big-name banks choose not to offer second-chance bank accounts. Shop around local credit unions or smaller banks, which are often more willing to meet members where they are.

When weighing which to choose, consider such factors as:

  • Opening deposits. Find an account that supports your budget out the gate.
  • Fees. Look for an account with low or no monthly maintenance fees. Some banks waive fees if you enroll in direct deposit or keep their balance above a stated minimum.
  • Features. Strong accounts that offer ATM access, autopay and mobile banking will offer easier everyday banking in the long run.
  • Spending limits. To cover the perceived risk of taking on those with a less-than-perfect financial past, banks often set spending caps that could limit your account’s flexibility.
  • Account upgrade eligibility. Many second-chance checking accounts will allow you to upgrade to a stronger account with more benefits after your account is in good standing for a specified period, typically 12 months. These benefits can include no monthly maintenance fees or spending limits.

How we picked the best bank accounts for second chances

A second-chance checking account should help you gain financial ground — not punish you with high fees and deposit requirements. That’s why we chose our top five accounts with you in mind.

Most second-chance checking accounts have unavoidable monthly fees. We began our search by looking for second-chance accounts with $0 to low monthly fees and small opening deposits to help you avoid problems you might’ve experienced with banks in the past. We then considered other factors like accessibility, overdraft protection and account perks to pinpoint which ones will help you get your financial life back on track.

Bottom Line

If past financial mistakes have made it difficult for you to open a new checking account, there’s still hope. There are several quality banks out there that offer second-chance checking accounts for those who have endured bankruptcy, bad credit and issues with ChexSystems.

Compare your bank account options to find the right account for your needs.

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