Many financial institutions run checks through a reporting agency on new account holders to determine the level of risk they present. Those who return with bad credit are often unable to open a checking account – queue the best checking accounts for bad credit.
Unlike a savings account, a checking account carries more risk due to the credit element they have, such as checks and overdrafts. These features, which typically come with any regular checking account, give room for defaults to occur.
The banks think they’re more likely to happen with those who have bad credit. Even so, many banks recognize that people with bad credit still need checking accounts. That’s why checking accounts for bad credit exist, giving those who have bad credit history a chance at having their own checking account.
If you’ve been denied a checking account due to bad credit, you’ll be glad to know that several of the best banks might still offer you an account. In some cases, they will also help you rebuild your credit score and even provide you with a path to a standard checking account option.
Top 10 Best Checking Accounts for Bad Credit
Here are the 10 best checking accounts for bad credit on offer right now:
- Aspire Federal Credit Union
- Bank of America
- One United Bank
- Wells Fargo
- Radius Bank
If you prefer a bank that has local branches nationwide, Chase and its Secure Banking account may be a good fit. Chase has more than 4,8000 local branches and 16,000 ATMs nationwide.
Chase offers several checking accounts, but Chase Secure Total Checking is ideal for low credit scores. Opening an account doesn’t require a credit check or dig into your ChexSystems history.
When you open your account and complete qualifying activities, you may be able to earn a $100 bonus. The account comes with a fixed $4.95 service fee, which can’t be waived.
Account-holders can pay bills online and get free money orders and cashier’s checks. You also get access to Chase’s mobile app, which is highly rated by users in the iOS and Android stores.
Chase Key Features:
- No minimum deposit
- Free money orders and cashier’s checks
- No overdraft fees
- Free credit monitoring
Launched in 2011, SoFi is a popular online financial platform offering personal loans, insurance, investment products, and checking and savings, with a range of free membership benefits.
SoFi could be a solid choice if you’re looking for a hybrid checking and savings account. SoFi Checking and Savings offers the interest of a savings account and the banking benefits of a checking account.
SoFi account holders have access to over 55,000 fee-free Allpoint Network ATMs. The account comes with no account fees or minimum balance requirements and no-fee overdraft protection. It also provides 2-day advanced paychecks when you enroll in direct deposits and cashback on local purchases made with your SoFi debit card.
The platform’s free financial coaching and resources for members make it an even better fit for bankers with bad credit.
SoFi Key Features:
- Direct deposits earn interest
- No minimum deposit
- No account or service fees
- $1,000 minimum deposit required for overdraft fee protection
Acorns is another online-only banking service that started as an investment platform. If you’re looking to manage your investment, checking, and savings accounts in one place, Acorns could be a good choice.
Like SoFi, it grants you access to more than 55,000 Allpoint ATMs and 2-day pay advances. It also comes with digital direct deposits and mobile check deposits. Acorns checking accounts are issued by Lincoln Savings Bank, a member FDIC.
Rather than incurring fees for account actions, Acorns users pay a regular subscription fee for their accounts. You can choose from the two account options below:
- Personal: At $3 per month, the personal account offers roundup-based investments, a retirement account, and banking services for one person.
- Family: For $5 per month, Family plan holders get the benefits above, plus investment accounts and financial educational resources for their children.
Acorns Key Features:
- FDIC insured up to $250,000
- Comes with a heavy metal visa debit card
- Offers fraud protection services
- Earns bonus investments when you shop from brands using the Acorns app
Aspire Federal Credit Union
Aspire is a federal credit union headquartered in New Jersey with around 22,000 people throughout the Northeast. Membership is open to employees of participating organizations and members of their immediate families, and those who live in the same household.
If you’ve been denied a checking account in the past, their fresh START checking account might very well be the account for you. You need to deposit your entire paycheck by direct deposit into the account and have no history of fraudulent activity to qualify.
There are no monthly fees, and ATM withdrawals are free from over 70,000 ATMs. The account also includes free access to online banking and telephone banking.
It comes with a debit card to help you access your money more conveniently. Since this is a federal credit union, your deposits are insured by the NCUA for extra peace of mind.
Aspire Federal Credit Union Key Features:
- No monthly fee
- Paycheck must be deposited in the account
- No history of fraudulent activity
- Need to be a member of the credit union
Bank of America
Bank of America is one of the biggest banks in America with a long banking history. They offer people with bad credit a chance to open a checking account thanks to Bank of America Advantage SafeBalance. The account comes with some limitations, but there are fewer restrictions in place when opening the account.
There is a minimum opening deposit requirement of $25 and a monthly maintenance fee of $4.95. If you’re a student under 24 years of age, the fee will be waived. The fee will also be waived if you enroll in the Preferred Rewards program.
There is no overdraft facility or overdraft protection. You won’t get any overdraft fees or NSF fees on the plus side – transactions over your available balance will be declined.
Paper checks are also unavailable with this account.
Bank of America Key Features:
- $25 minimum account opening deposit
- $4.95 monthly service fee
- No overdraft
- No paper checks
If your credit score is hurting, Chime’s Credit Builder account can boost your score by as much as 30 points. Chime is based in San Francisco, California, and offers several financial products and services.
There is no minimum security deposit requirement and no annual fee or interest on the secured credit card accompanying this account. Chime also won’t run a credit check on you when you apply for the account.
To avoid falling behind on your payments, you can turn on the Safer Credit Building feature to automatically pay your balance on time. Chime will also report balances paid in full to the three major credit bureaus, helping you build a better credit score over time.
Another perk of Chime is that you can opt to “round up” your purchases. For instance, if you make a purchase for $11.75, you can round up your purchase to $12.00 and Chime will put the extra $0.25 in your free Chime Saving Account, plus they pay 0.50% APY in interest on the savings account, that can add up quickly!
Chime Key Features:
- No security deposit required
- No monthly maintenance fee
- No credit check
- Balances paid in full reported to credit bureaus
Launched nearly 50 years ago in Boston, Unity Bank & Trust merged with Founders National Bank of Commerce and Family Savings Bank to become the nation’s largest black-owned bank.
OneUnited offers two checking accounts: Black Wall Street Checking and U2 E-Checking. U2 E-Checking is a second chance checking account for applicants with ChexSystems records.
While the account comes with a monthly maintenance fee, it can be waived if you make a direct deposit and 10 or more debit card transactions within a month.
OneUnited’s second chance checking account also offers 2-day pay advances and an auto-save roundup feature, similar to Acorns. It also provides a mobile banking app for easy online account management.
OneUnited Key Features:
- Access to 35,000 fee-free ATMs nationwide
- $25 minimum deposit required
- No fee to open an account
- Mobile check deposit available
Wells Fargo’s Clear access Banking account is designed for those denied a standard account and need help in better managing their finances.
There is a minimum opening deposit requirement of $25 and a monthly service fee of $5. The fee is automatically waived if you’re under 24 years of age.
The account does away with many of the prevalent features in most checking accounts, such as checks. There are no overdraft fees or NSF fees on a positive note, helping you keep your account balance in check.
The account includes several tools to help you budget and manage your cash flow. Withdrawals from Wells Fargo’s ATM network are free of charge, as is access to Wells Fargo Mobile.
The account also comes with Zero Liability protection which reimburses you for any unauthorized card transactions as long as these are reported promptly.
Wells Fargo Key Features:
- Minimum opening deposit of $25
- The monthly service fee is set at $5.00
- No overdraft or NSF fees
- Zero liability protection included
GO2Bank, formerly GObank, is an online bank owned by Green Dot Corporation, which also owns Green Dot Bank. The bank’s headquarters are in Pasadena, California.
While the GO2bank is relatively new to the market, the bank has been in operation since 1999.
Getting a GO2bank account can help you build your credit back up as the bank reports credit use to the three credit bureaus. You also get a free VantageScore every month to help you check and assess your progress.
The bank does not run a credit check on you, and there are no annual fees. You’ll need to receive direct deposits worth $100 over three days before you can apply for a credit card.
Once you do this, you will also need to make a security deposit, which is refundable. The minimum amount is $100.
GO2Bank Key Features
- Free monthly VantageScore report
- A minimum security deposit of $100
- Credit is reported to all three bureaus
- Make direct deposits worth $100 or more over three days to get a credit card.
Radius Bank is an online bank based in Boston, Massachusetts. Recently, they joined forces with LendingClub to offer a wider range of products and services to their customers.
Their Essential Checking account is designed for those whose banking record is not perfect and would like to take steps to rebuild it.
The account is offered on a select basis, meaning you must be denied a Rewards Checking account before applying for it. There is a monthly service charge of $9.99, which the bank won’t waive, and debit cards are limited to $500 per day.
Mobile check deposits are also limited to $1,000 a day and $2,000 per 10 days.
If you stay on the straight and narrow, you may be eligible for an upgrade to the Rewards Checking account. The account comes with an integrated financial dashboard to help you get there.
This dashboard has several handy tools to help you manage your debts, budget your expenses, and track your net worth and spending.
Radius Bank Key Features:
- The monthly maintenance fee is $9.99
- Debit card transactions limited to $500 per day
- Limited mobile check deposits
- Financial dashboards included
Checking Accounts for Bad Credit Features
Checking accounts for bad credit comes in all shapes and sizes. Just because you do not have excellent credit, it doesn’t mean that you cannot choose an account that works best for you.
In this section, we’ll look at some of the features that you’re very likely to find, so you can understand what’s important to you and choose accordingly.
- FDIC Insurance. Checking accounts for bad credit comes with FDIC insurance, in most cases up to $250,000, although this can go higher with cash management accounts
- No Minimum Balance Requirements. Most accounts come with no minimum balance requirements, which can be great. However, this also means that you’re more likely to pay maintenance fees.
- Fewer Fees. With no fees for overdrafts or NSFs (insufficient funds), most accounts come with fewer overall fees.
- Free ATM Cashing. Many accounts come with debit cards that allow you to withdraw money without paying fees, as long as you do so from the bank’s ATM network.
- Money Management. A good number of accounts come with money management tools to help you manage your finances better.
Why Was I Denied a Checking Account?
One of the main reasons people are denied a checking account is due to a bad credit report.
There are two different kinds of reports that the bank runs. In most cases, the bank will run one of them, but some banks do run both. These two reports are Chexsystems reports and Credit reports.
While they might sound like they’re the same thing (and many people confuse them), they are two very different reports
It’s crucial to understand what they are and equally how they work. Knowing this can help you take corrective measures should any (or both) reports come back with a negative result.
Who Supplies the Reports?
When it comes to credit reports, there are three main bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. ChexSystems reports are a different report from those provided by the three main bureaus and run by FIS.
Experian is a consumer credit reporting company based in Dublin, Ireland. It was established in 1996 and collected data on more than 1 billion individuals and businesses worldwide. Besides offering credit reports, Experian also offers several other services, including marketing assistance and several others.
While Equifax is based in the US, it services customers across the world. They have information on some 800 million people and 88 million businesses. As a credit reporting bureau, they help banks and other institutions carry out due diligence on their customers. They also offer services to individual customers, including ID theft insurance and credit reports, among others.
TransUnion collects data on more than one billion individuals, 200 million located in the US. Aside from reporting credit scores to banks, TransUnion also offers several other credit monitoring and protection services to help individuals combat fraud cases.
ChexSystems is an agency that offers a verification service and consumer credit reporting. The agency is owned by eFunds, a subsidiary of FIS – an American company based in Jacksonville, Florida.
ChexSystems is used by about 80% of all banks and credit unions in America, with that said, there are some banks that do not run a ChexSystems check.
It collects data submitted by the banks over the last five years and highlights any irregularities it comes across.
Among other things, these irregularities include:
- Pending negative balances
- Fraudulent check deposits
- Suspicious activity
Can I Get a Copy of My Report?
It’s important to note that all three credit reporting agencies and ChexSystems are regulated through FACTA (Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act). The act was signed into law in 2003 by then-President George W. Bush.
Through this act, consumers can request one free copy of their credit report per year. Any highlighted activity in the report that you disagree with can be disputed, and you can also ask for proof should you feel that there is anything that shouldn’t be there.
If the information is accurate, remember that data in the reports cannot go further back than five years.
In the meantime, getting a checking account designed for those who have bad credit can help you bridge the gap until that time comes – and in some cases, for an even shorter period.
What banks let you open a checking account with bad credit?
Many banks have started to offer second chance banking opportunities to customers with bad credit.
While some accounts carry monthly maintenance fees, you can also nab yourself a bargain with a free checking account designed for people with bad credit.
Included account features vary from one bank to another and include online bill pay, a MasterCard or Visa prepaid debit card, free ATMs, and other perks.
While you might have to give up on some things, your checking account for bad credit will still include useful features. The important thing here is to understand what is and isn’t important to you and then try to find that account that best matches your requirements.
Can you open a checking account if you have bad credit?
Yes, you can still open a checking account if you have bad credit. Most online checking accounts and all second chance bank accounts don’t run credit checks, so your bad credit won’t hold you back.
You’ll have to give up on some traditional account features and perks such as unlimited check writing and cashback rewards.
On the positive side, your account can help you improve your credit score so that you’ll qualify for a regular checking account in the future.
What banks offer checking accounts for bad credit?
Many banks offer checking accounts for bad credit. Some banks do not run credit checks for any of their accounts, making it easier to get the right checking account for you.
Keep in mind that with bad credit, it’s going to be difficult to get credit, so services like overdrafts and loans might still be out of reach – at least for now.
Checking accounts for bad credit can help you rebuild your credit – so that in the future, you may get the same products and services as those with good credit.
How can I open a bank account without a credit check?
You’ll first need to identify which second chance checking account you would like to open.
Undertaking this exercise is important as different banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions that offer these types of checking accounts might have different procedures.
Some banks require you to apply for a standard account first, and once you’ve been denied, they will offer you a second chance checking account. In most cases, you’ll be able to complete the entire application process online.
However, some banks will require you to visit one of their branches.
If you’re looking at opening an account with an online bank, you’ll be able to do it online without ever setting foot in a branch.
Either way, you’ll need to submit your personal information as well as some form of identification, such as your driver’s license. You will also be asked for your SSN (Social Security Number), so be sure to have it at hand.
Checking Account Alternatives
Bad credit checking accounts have low barriers to entry which means that anyone should be able to get one.
Even so, you might want to consider some of the alternatives available:
Prepaid cards need to be loaded with money before you can use them to buy and pay for things, making them pretty safe. They tend to come with a mobile app, giving you a much clearer picture of how much money you’ve got and making it much easier to make transfers.
Prepaid cards are offered by different companies, with one prime example being Walmart and even Starbucks.
Neobanks are a new breed of banks that are increasing in popularity. Neobanks tend to be run by fintech companies instead of banks and are built to challenge traditional banks.
They offer great features such as easy account management and different perks to help you make the most out of your money.
Money apps such as PayPal, Venmo, and Payoneer, can help you make and receive payments, even internationally. They have a growing list of features such as PayPal’s mobile check deposit and Payoneer’s international payment system.
These apps tend to be specialized, so it might be worth your time to think about what you need it for and then picking the right one for you.
Is a Checking Account for Bad Credit Best For Your Financial Needs?
Having a checking account can make your financial life easier. From cashing checks to collecting cashback rewards, a checking account is an important aspect of personal finance.
While checking accounts for bad credit can be restrictive compared to traditional checking accounts, they’re an excellent vehicle to help you get back on your feet.
To get there faster, make sure you keep your debit card purchases to a minimum. If there are any transaction fees, account for them beforehand to avoid missing any payments.
Keep in mind that lenders report payments to the credit bureaus regularly, and a missed payment can undo all of your hard work.
You might also want to consider some of the alternatives available. However, it’s always worth your time to build your credit back up after taking a hit.
The truth is that you never know what the future might hold, and being prepared for as many eventualities as possible is sure to pay dividends well into the future.