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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.
The best second chance checking accounts are the ones that allow you to make purchases without charging ridiculous fees (all accounts below are FDIC insured). Banks that do not use ChexSystems allow consumers to apply for a second chance checking accounts online and provide instant acceptance.
The Best Second Chance Checking Accounts
|Chime Spend Account
|Paid 2 Days Early
|CapOne 360 Checking
|Wells Fargo Clear Access Banking
|No Overdraft Fees
|LendingClub Bank Rewards Checking
|ATM Fee Rebates
1. Chime Checking Account
The Chime Checking Account is the best second-chance checking account on our list because it does just about everything well. With this account, there’s no monthly fee, no minimum balance required, and no overdraft fees. You can use your debit card at more than 60,000 fee-free ATMs.
The Chime app affords everyone instant transaction alerts, the ability to block your card with a single tap, and 24/7 live customer support. My favorite feature is “Spot Me” where you can overdraw your account by up to $200 and Chime will cover the transaction. You’ll have to pay this back promptly of course but the payments are not charged interest or fees.
Our two favorite additional Chime products:
- Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa Credit Card – Average FICO 8 improvement of 30 points over eight months.
- Chime Savings Account – 2.00% APY
2. SoFi Checking
SoFi Checking is the only account on our list that includes a sign-up bonus. When you open an account and deposit at least $5,000 in the first 25 days, you’ll receive a $300 bonus. If you deposit between $1,000 and $4,999, you’ll earn a $50 bonus. SoFi Checking has no overdraft fees, no monthly service fees, and no in-network ATM fees.
With SoFi Checking, you’ll earn a 0.50% APY on your cash. The SoFi app is also set up to show you special retailers where you can earn up to 15% cash back when you use your SoFi debit card.
Our two favorite additional SoFi products:
3. mph.Bank Fresh
The mph.Bank Fresh digital checking account allows you to improve your financial standing without worrying about a Chexsystem report. You’ll have access to 55,000 Allpoint ATMs free of charge and the ability to round up your purchases to start saving right away.
With all mph.Bank checking products, you’ll earn a 1.00% APY. The Fresh digital checking account also includes Zelle integration so you have a fast and safe way to send and receive money with friends. There is a $9 monthly fee which is waived the first two months for all account holders.
Our two favorite additional mph.Bank products:
- mph.Bank Free – Requires a monthly direct deposit of $500 or more but is completely fee-free.
- mph.Bank First – Perfect for the teenager in your household who needs to learn a bit about financial responsibility.
Varo has become an all-in-one app that offers a spending account without a monthly fee. You can deposit checks, link accounts and send money to anyone you want (no matter the bank they have). You can also use Zelle if you prefer.
An additional big perk of the spending account is that you can access your cash at more than 40,000 ATMs without a fee. When you set up your direct deposit with Varo, you’ll be paid up to two days early and you can even qualify to receive up to a $250 cash advance to spot you before your next payday.
Our two favorite additional Varo products:
- Varo High Yield Savings Account – 5.00% APY on balances up to $5,000
- Varo Believe Credit-Builder Card – An average 42-point improvement after 3 months of on-time payments
5. Cap One 360 Checking
Cap One 360 Checking offers a basic checking account that includes moving your money to external accounts through Zelle and the ability to visit a branch or Capital One cafe to ask for help (or open a new account). There are never any overdraft fees with this account, no matter the protection you choose.
The Capital One 360 Checking mobile app is my favorite of all the apps on this list and one that I use personally. You can deposit checks easily, receive instant alerts to any transactions that are coming across your account, and immediately freeze your debit card if you need to. This checking account also includes access to more than 70,000 fee-free ATMs.
Our two favorite additional Capital One products:
6. Wells Fargo Clear Access Banking
Wells Fargo Clear Access Banking is designed for those looking for their first bank account or those with poor past credit and banking history. You’ll have access to 11,000 Wells Fargo ATMs free of charge and like Cap One 360 above, you’ll have access to support at physical Wells Fargo bank branches.
You can find features like mobile deposit, biometic authentication, and Zelle when using Clear Access Banking and if you’re less than 24 years old, there is no monthly maintenance fee. Otherwise, the fee is $5. The best feature this account offers is that it never charges an overdraft fee.
Our two favorite additional Wells Fargo products:
- Wells Fargo Way2Save Savings Account – $525 cash bonus
- Wells Fargo Everyday Checking Account – $300 cash bonus
7. LendingClub Bank Rewards Checking
LendingClub Bank rounds out our list with an excellent checking product that focuses on cash back. LendingClub Bank Rewards Checking offers 1% cash back on all purchases made with your debit card. Even with cash back, the best feature of this account is its policy of rebating all ATM fees received from other banks and they’ll never charge you one).
Rewards Checking charges no fees standard fees, including monthly maintenance fees, overdraft fees, or incoming wire transfer fees. When you set up a direct deposit with LendingClub, you’ll be eligible to receive your money up to two days early.
Our two favorite additional LendingClub Bank products:
What to Look for in a Second Chance Checking Account
No Monthly Fees
If you’re trying to get back on track financially, you don’t want to have to put any of your hard-earned money toward managing a basic bank account. Many banks agree with that sentiment, providing options that are completely fee-free. The fact that there are so many attainable options out there is another compelling reason never to pay a monthly fee.
Easy to Maintain
One of the easiest ways to rack up fees when you don’t have a lot of cash flow is by not maintaining an account minimum. If you are living paycheck to paycheck, it can be very difficult to keep a balance month to month. But you don’t want to be penalized for that, especially when there are so many options that don’t require a minimum. Additionally, you don’t want to be forced to make a certain number of transactions if you are trying to limit or maintain your spending, so look for accounts with no transaction requirements.
Access to Your Money
If your job pays you in cash, or you happen to receive a lot of cash, you will want to have an easy way to make deposits into your checking account. That might mean looking for an account option with a brick-and-mortar location, or at least one with plenty of accessible and convenient ATMs.
In today’s world, never underestimate a good mobile app. Among other things, mobile banking allows you to move money quickly and easily and track your balance, which can be crucial in avoiding overdrafts and building your financial health.
What Is ChexSystems?
Similar to a credit bureau, ChexSystems is a reporting agency that banks use to find out if you had issues with checking accounts in the past. Things like fraud, fees, and unpaid negative balances can follow you around for years and prevent you from getting approved for checking and savings accounts.
Negative activity usually lasts around five years from the first date that it’s reported. Before applying for an account, it may be prudent to check your report in ChexSystems, just like you would check your credit score before applying for a loan or a credit card.
Our Methodology in Finding the Best Second Chance Checking Accounts
We built this list of the best second chance checking accounts by looking for the accounts with the best prices and the best features. Things like high-yield savings options, debit card rewards, and the chance to upgrade to a less expensive account option are features that helped accounts make the cut.
Most importantly, every account keeps the fees between low and zero. Banking today should be largely fee-free.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Do you have to get a second chance checking account if you have a bad ChexSystems report?
Having a bad ChexSystem report can make it difficult to open a checking account, but second chance checking accounts aren’t the only ones available. Some banks don’t check your ChexSystems report at all. Another good option is to try working with local credit unions.
These institutions tend to be smaller and more community-focused, so you might be able to find a credit union that’s willing to work with you.
Does ChexSystems affect your credit?
Your ChexSystems report can affect your chances of opening a checking account, so it’s natural to worry that having a poor ChexSystems report and needing to open a second chance checking account could impact your credit.
The good news is that your ChexSystems report and your credit report are separate, so the info that shows up on each won’t affect the other.
Can you overdraft a second chance checking account?
Many second chance accounts will not allow you to overdraft your account, which means any transaction that is going to cause an overdraft will be declined. However, not every account on this list is a classic second chance account, and many of them do offer overdraft protection up to a certain amount.
Can you be denied a second chance checking account?
There is still an application process, so any institution has the right to deny you an account
Access to basic banking is important to equalize access to wealth and is becoming more widespread through the competitive market of online banks and financial technology. If you do have some negative activity in ChexSystems, there are still options for you to work toward building back to a healthy financial future.
Second chance checking accounts give you the opportunity to get a checking account even if you have a bad ChexSystems report. While the accounts can be expensive, you can use them to improve your ChexSystems report and graduate to an account with lower fees.