Our top 5 picks can help if you have poor credit or a troubled financial past.
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.
How we picked the best bank accounts for second chances
We chose these five second-chance checking accounts with the needs of our readers in mind.
We searched for accounts with low monthly maintenance fees and small opening deposits to help you avoid problems you might’ve experienced with past accounts. We also looked at features that can make your banking life easier, free mobile apps, online check deposits and online bill pay.
Best accounts for second chances
Our top five picks for second-chance accounts are standouts for helping those with past financial struggles get back to better banking.
Wells Fargo Opportunity Checking
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 DC.
- Mobile banking to manage your money on the go
- Free debit card, checks and online bill pay
- Ideal for customers who can’t maintain high balances
- Link to an Opportunity Savings account for overdraft protection
First National Bank and Trust Company Renew Checking
Open your Renew Checking account with a $25 deposit and enroll in direct deposit to save $2 on the typical $9.95 monthly maintenance fee. It’s available to customers who live in select areas of Illinois and Wisconsin.
- Mobile banking to manage your money on the go
- Free debit Mastercard with rewards
- Free online banking, bill pay and e-statements
- Free mobile banking and access to mobile apps
BBVA Online Checking account
ClearConnect Checking features no monthly fee and can be opened with a $25 deposit. Customers gain access to a large network of participating ATMs and a mobile banking app. But it’s available only to those who live in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico and Texas.
- No monthly fee
- No-fee access to 56,000 ATMs
- Deposit at a local branch, by ATM or through a mobile app
Peoples Bank Cash Solutions Second Chance Checking
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.
- Available nationwide
- Free debit Mastercard
- Online banking and bill pay
- Online money transfers
Radius Essential Checking
Radius Essential Checking works like a prepaid debit card, but with the added benefit of FDIC protection. You’ll pay a $9 service charge monthly with a low $10 opening deposit.
Essential Checking offers many modern checking account features, but with potential drawbacks that include a $500 daily debit card limit and a mobile check deposit limit of $1,000 a day.
- Available nationwide with online signup in minutes
- FDIC-insured for up to $250,000
- Free Radius Bank Mastercard debit card
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.
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.