What is a Second Chance Account and Where Can You Get One?

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A checking account is an important tool to managing your finances. I’ve had a checking account since college, and frankly, it’s hard to imagine living without one. For some people, however, getting approved for a traditional checking account is impossible. And that’s where a second chance checking account can help.

ChexSystems

Fresh start checking accounts, as they are sometimes called, are designed for customers who have been turned down for more traditional checking accounts. While it may surprise you, banks routinely turn down applications for checking and savings accounts. While this can happen for several reasons, it is common for those who have been reported to or are listed in a recognized consumer checking history database such as ChexSystems Inc. (“ChexSystems”).

If an account holder overdraws his or her account multiple times, “bounces” checks, commits identity theft or fraud, or stops using an overdrawn account without having covered the negative balance, the account is considered delinquent, and a file on the consumer is opened with ChexSystems. When this happens you may be banned from opening a checking account at any bank that is a member of ChexSystems for approximately 5 years. FIVE YEARS!

The ChexSystems network is made up of member financial institutions that report information on mishandled checking and savings accounts to a central location. ChexSystems then shares this information among its members so that they will be better equipped to determine what risk is involved in approving a particular consumer for a checking account. Financial institutions also rely on ChexSystems for credit information on customers. Unfortunately, each member bank’s parameters for reporting a consumer to ChexSystems is different; accordingly, there can be extremely high risk consumers in the database and some who really should not be there.

In the United States, approximately 80% of all banks and credit unions participate in the ChexSystems program. Therefore, if a consumer has been reported to this database, it will be extremely difficult to open a new checking account unless the consumer can find a “no credit check bank” or open a second chance checking account. Virtually all second chance checking accounts have limits to the types of transactions that can be performed in such accounts. Such restrictions include the denial of a checkbook or, alternatively, the bank might only allow a consumer to use the debit card associated with his/her second chance checking account for debit transactions.

Second Chance Checking Accounts

The majority of the standard features, however, are included with second chance checking accounts such as ATM withdrawals, an ATM card with a VISA or MasterCard logo, online bill payments, money transfers, and direct deposit.  Often, second chance checking accounts have higher annual or monthly maintenance fees or may require larger opening deposits. Some banks will refund maintenance fees if a consumer eventually establishes a good name at the financial institution.

The best way to open a second chance checking account is online through a lender that offers this service.  Banks that do not use ChexSystems allow consumers to apply for second chance checking accounts online and provide instant acceptance. Even banks that do use ChexSystems allow consumers to open second chance checking accounts provided they have a copy of their ChexSystems report as proof of payment from their previous bank.

The idea behind a second chance checking account is that it provides a consumer who has no other alternative, a second chance at a bank account. Used properly, if the consumer remains in good standing with the bank and shows discipline, a second chance checking account can be used as a “stepping stone” to reinstating ones good name, and opening a normal checking account in a six to twelve month time frame.

As of late, several banks have relaxed the parameters by which they report consumers to ChexSystems, understanding that many consumers do not have sufficient knowledge to use their checking accounts properly, while other banks offer second chance checking accounts to anyone found in the ChexSystems database provided he/she has not committed a fraudulent act.

Banks That Offer Second Chance Accounts

Listed below are banks that currently offer checking accounts to those reported to ChexSystems:

Alternatives

There is an alternative to 2d chance accounts–prepaid credit cards. These cards act like a checking account, many allowing you to pay bills online. And some of the better prepaid cards even offer a high interest savings account. So if you are looking for an alternative, check out our list of free and low cost prepaid cards.

Published or Updated: July 28, 2014
About Rob Berger

Rob founded the Dough Roller in 2007. A litigation attorney in the securities industry, he lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, their two teenagers, and the family mascot, a shih tzu named Sophie.

Comments

  1. alex jordan says:

    Good article. Around 90% of banks in the U.S. use chexsystems. there is also Telecheck which is similar to Chexsystems. More than likely if a bank doesn’t use one service they use the other. If you have a negative balance with a bank the only way to go is a second chance account.

  2. Great points. Most people don’t know it will take 5 years to qualify for a normal checking account after you’ve been declined by numerous banks. The problem comes from not being financially accountable and a second chance checking account is the only option for consumers who need banking but can’t obtain approval from a bank using chexsystems.

  3. william bradley says:

    do suntrust have second choice checking

  4. jne2003 says:

    I want thank you for this informative post. I have been without a bank account for 5 years and no one ever mentioned a second chance checking account to me. I only wish that someone would have given me this information sooner, and I could have started rebuilding my credit. Hopefully now I will finally be able to begin again. Thanks

  5. Marcus says:

    I’ve been without a bank account for six years. I recently inherited a large amount of money and finally need an account. I was denied by every bank on earth because of one account on chex. I paid this account but it is still in EWS. I was approved today for a 2nd chance account from a local credit union. I appreciate the second chance they are giving me. Moving forward, I am choosing to only do business with this bank.

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