Financial mistakes happen. As unintended as they may be, bounced checks, unpaid overdraft fees, and excessive NSF charges are a few banking mishaps that can stick to you like glue.
A negative banking history plays a major role in preventing you from opening a checking or savings account.
Second chance banking gives people an opportunity to get finances back on track along with restoring banking privileges.
Most banks and credit unions use a checking account reporting company to screen new accounts. ChexSystems and Early Warning Services (EWS) are the two largest checking account reporting companies, but banks and credit unions may also use Telecheck and even pull a credit report to open checking accounts.
Top 10 Online Second Chance Banking Options
Here are online second chance checking accounts accessible to people across the United States.
Go2bank provides a range of financial services, including a checking account, savings account, and debit card. Go2bank also offers various features like early access to paychecks, cash-back rewards on certain purchases, and the ability to deposit checks remotely using your mobile device.
- No monthly fees with eligible direct deposit, otherwise $5 per month¹
- No hidden fees²
- Overdraft protection up to $200, with opt-in and eligible directs³
- $0 Minimum deposit
- Get your pay up to 2 days early with direct deposit⁶
- Free nationwide ATM network⁷
2. Upgrade Rewards Checking Plus
People looking for online banks that don’t use ChexSystems should put Upgrade at the top of the list. With free checking, no overdraft fees and fee-free ATMs, Upgrade’s checking account offers attractive benefits to step back into banking. Upgrade Rewards Checking Plus best features:
- Customers get up to 2% cash back on common everyday expenses for active accounts with a monthly $1,000 direct deposit 1.
- $0 Minimum Opening Deposit.
- Up to 2% cash back on common everyday expenses for active accounts with monthly $1,000 direct deposit, and up to 1% cash back for other purchases2.
- Optional savings account that earns 5.07% APY3.
- Customers with direct deposit can get paid up to two days early4.
- No monthly fees, no overdraft fees5, and get reimbursed for ATM fees with an active account.
- FDIC-Insured Up to $250,000.
Upgrade is a financial technology company, not a bank. Checking and savings accounts provided by Cross River Bank, Member FDIC.
3. OneUnited Bank
OneUnited Bank’s Online Checking Account is available to people in ALL STATES. Customers can add cash to the OneUnited Bank Debit Card at over 90,000 locations across the country through a partnership with Green Dot®. To get started go to the “Get the Card” button, enter your name, email address and cell phone number. Choose the Black Wall Street Checking account option along with the opening deposit, then complete your identification details (name, address, SSN, and employer).
- $0 Monthly fees
- $25 Minimum opening deposit
- Obtain cash, surcharge free at over 100,000+ ATMs
- Up to 20% cash-back in different categories like food, hair products, hotels, cosmetics, home goods.
- Get paid up to two days earlier with direct deposit
- Cash advance feature called “CashPlease” that offers a short-term loan up to $1,000 without a credit check
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4. Acorns Checking Account
Acorns is primarily a money app that helps you invest and save. Acorns offers an FDIC-Insured Checking Account with tools to benefit your overall financial well-being by investing your spare change, managing everyday banking transactions, saving for retirement, and growing your wealth building knowledge.
- $3 per month for an individual account or $5 for families
- $10 Minimum opening deposit
- The Acorns marketplace gives customers a small percentage cash-back on purchases made at hundreds of major retailers, including Walmart
- Receive pay up to two days earlier with direct deposit
- All Acorns banking customers get a heavy metal laser engraved Acorns Visa™ debit card
Acorns is not a bank. Acorns Visa™ debit cards are issued by Lincoln Savings Bank or nbkc bank, Members FDIC for Acorns Checking account holders
5. BMO Harris Bank
BMO Harris Bank is a well-established financial institution with over 500 branches across U.S. and access to over 40,000 ATMs. As the 8th largest bank in North America by assets, BMO Harris Bank has $852 billion in total assets. Financial products and services include checking, savings, CDs, personal, auto and mortgage loans, HELOCs, small business banking, investment and retirement accounts. The monthly free checking account is called Smart Advantage Account with the following features:
- $25 Minimum Opening Deposit
- Unlimited Transactions at 40,000+ fee-free ATMs nationwide
- $0 Monthly maintenance fee
- BMO Digital Banking – pay bills, transfer money and more
6. Albert Banking
With Albert, there is no minimum deposit requirement to open an account. The Albert Genius feature analyzes your income and spending to find extra dollars to save automatically. All funds are insured up to $250,000 through federally backed FDIC protection. Albert will spot you up to a $250 cash advance with no credit check, interest or late fees.
- $0 Monthly fees
- $0 Minimum deposit
- Earn cash-back on gas, groceries, delivery, and more
- Receive pay up to two days earlier with direct deposit
- Save and invest right in the Albert banking app
- FDIC insured
Albert is not a bank. Banking services provided by Sutton Bank, Member FDIC
7. Consumers Credit Union
Consumers Credit Union is a credit union based in Illinois with membership open to anyone regardless of where they live or work. Financial products and services include checking, savings, CDs, personal, auto and mortgage loans, small business banking, investments and financial education. The monthly free checking account is called Rewards Checking with the following features:
- Unlimited reimbursement for any and all ATM fees**
- Over 30,000 ATMs & over 5,000 shared branches
- Online & mobile banking plus bill pay
- Get paid as much as two days early with early direct deposit**
- No monthly maintenance fees, for anything
8. SoFi Bank Checking & Savings
The joint Checking and Savings Account at SoFi comes with no overdraft fee and no monthly fees. New members can earn a $25 welcome bonus by making an opening deposit of $100. Earn an additional bonus up to $250 by setting up a qualifying direct deposit from an employer, payroll, retirement pension, or benefits provider.
- No monthly service fees
- Minimum opening deposit is $100
- Interest earned with direct deposit is 4.50% APY on savings balances and 1.20% APY on checking balances
- 55,000+ fee-free ATMs.
- Get paid up to 2 days early with direct deposit.
- No-fee Overdraft Coverage with qualifying monthly direct deposit
- FDIC insured up to 2M
9. Axos Rewards Checking
The Axos Rewards Checking account is a good choice for no-fee banking. There are no monthly maintenance fees, competitive cash back rewards, and customers have access to over 91,000 fee-free ATMs across the U.S.
- Zero monthly fees
- $50 Minimum deposit
- Customers get unlimited reimbursements of ATM fees in the US
- Zero overdraft or NSF fees
- FDIC insured
10. Go Further Checking
Go Further Checking is designed for people that need to re-start a checking relationship. GTE wants to provide a second chance checking account. After one year, if you meet basic qualifications, your account is automatically upgraded. Membership is open to people in ALL STATES that are 18 years or older. Use Referral Code E599076ICB to open.
- 24/7 Virtual Banking (Online, Mobile or Telephone)
- Get paid up to 2 days early with early direct deposit for a $3 fee
- Bill Pay, Zelle®, and Friends & Family Transfers
- Monthly fee of $9.95
- Unlimited check writing
- Account Balance Alerts
- Note: Use referral code E599076ICB during the application process. You’ll get an opportunity to insert the referral code during the application process.
Second Chance Banks Near You
If you’ve searched for “second chance checking near me” then browse your state below to find the best second chance banking options in your area for in-person banking options.
Benefits of second chance banking
Financial stability requires access to resources. Having a bank account can provide numerous benefits beyond just a safe place to store your money.
- Easy access to your money. With a bank account, you can withdraw cash from ATMs, make purchases with a debit card, and even set up automatic bill payments. This can save you time and hassle compared to using cash or money orders for every transaction. Plus, many banks offer online and mobile banking options, so you can manage your money from anywhere at any time.
- FDIC insurance. Your money is protected by FDIC insurance, which means that even if the bank fails, your deposits are insured up to $250,000 per depositor. Additionally, banks have security measures in place to prevent fraud and unauthorized access to your account.
- Ability to make purchases and pay bills electronically. With a debit card linked to your account, you can easily make purchases online or in-person without having to carry cash. You can also set up automatic bill payments, which can save you time and ensure that your bills are always paid on time.
- Build credit and financial stability. By opening a checking or savings account and using it responsibly, you can establish a positive banking history that can help you qualify for loans, credit cards, and other financial products in the future.
- Earn interest on your money. When you keep your money at home or carry it with you, there is always a risk of theft or loss but you also don’t earn interest on your money. Banks and credit unions typically offer a variety of financial products including interest-bearing checking accounts and high-yield savings accounts.
- Ability to access loans and credit cards. By establishing a positive banking history, you can increase your chances of being approved for loans and credit cards with favorable terms and interest rates. This can be especially important for major purchases like a car or a home, or for emergencies that require access to funds quickly. Without a bank account, it can be much more difficult to qualify for these types of financial products.
Drawbacks of second chance banking
Here are several things to watch out for when researching second chance banking options.
- Restricted accounts. Second chance banking accounts may come with more limitations than standard free checking accounts.
- Cannot write checks. Checking writing privileges may be limited or non-existent.
- Monthly fees. Fees are likely to come with second chance checking accounts.
- May require direct deposit. Direct deposit may be required to open some second chance checking accounts.
Why most second chance checking accounts have a monthly service fee?
Second chance checking accounts often come with a monthly service fee. This is because banks view these accounts as riskier than traditional checking accounts and may require a fee to offset some of the additional costs and risks associated with these accounts. But with responsible use, a second chance checking account can help you rebuild your financial history and improve your credit score.
Here are some reasons why second chance checking accounts may come with a monthly service fee:
Additional account maintenance. Second chance checking accounts may require more frequent account monitoring and maintenance, including extra time spent by bank employees to help customers manage their accounts. This additional work can be expensive for banks, so they may charge a monthly fee to help offset these costs.
Risk management. Customers who are eligible for second chance checking accounts may have a history of overdrafts, bounced checks, or other issues that have resulted in fees or losses for the bank. As a result, banks may charge a monthly fee to help manage the risk associated with these accounts.
Limited options. Second chance checking accounts may have more restrictions than traditional checking accounts, such as lower limits on deposits or withdrawals, or limits on the number of checks that can be written per month. These limitations can make the accounts less profitable for banks, so they may charge a monthly fee to help cover the costs of offering the account.
Consider overdraft protection
Get overdraft protection when you open a second chance checking account, it can save your account from being reported to ChexSystems for excessive NSF (nonsufficient funds) charges. Banks are required to ask customers whether they want to “opt-in” for overdraft protection for their checking accounts.
If you “opt-in” the bank will pay the amount and charge you an overdraft courtesy fee. This can get expensive if you frequently overdraw your account. A better solution would be to sign-up for an overdraft protection program.
There are two main types of overdraft protection:
- Linked accounts. This type of overdraft protection is when a checking account is linked to another account, such as a savings account or a credit card. If the checking account has insufficient funds to cover a transaction, funds are automatically transferred from the linked account to cover the shortfall.
- Line of credit. In this type of overdraft protection, the bank extends a line of credit to the customer that can be used to cover overdrafts. If the customer’s checking account has insufficient funds to cover a transaction, funds are automatically borrowed from the line of credit to cover the shortfall. The customer is then charged interest on the amount borrowed until it is paid back.
It’s important to note that overdraft protection is not free and customers are typically charged a fee for each overdraft transaction. Additionally, customers should be aware of the terms and conditions of their overdraft protection program.
Why prepaid debit cards are not a long-term solution
Prepaid debit cards can act as a checking account but when you need additional financial resources, you’re going to hit a wall. First, let me say that prepaid cards can help you manage your money efficiently because they only let you access funds that you load onto them before spending. However, prepaid debit cards are very different from traditional checking accounts.
Prepaid debit cards may work for a while but are not a long-term solution to establishing a positive banking history.
Building a healthy banking relationship means access additional financial products like personal loans or mortgage loans, multiple savings vehicles like high-interest savings accounts, CDs, money market accounts, and perhaps even retirement planning – all of which prepaid debit cards cannot offer.
1 Active Accounts with a monthly direct deposit of $1000 are eligible for additional benefits on Rewards Checking Plus such as additional cash back rewards, ATM fee reimbursement, and more. See the Active Account page for more information.
2 Rewards Checking Plus customers who set-up monthly direct deposits of $1,000 or more earn 2% cash back on common everyday expenses at convenience stores, drugstores, restaurants and bars – including deliveries – and gas stations, as well as recurring payments on utilities and monthly subscriptions including phone, cable, TV and other streaming services, and 1% cash back on all other debit card purchases. 2% cash back is limited to $500 in rewards per calendar year; after $500, customers earn 1% cash back on all eligible debit card purchases for the remainder of the year. Rewards Checking Plus accounts with less than $1,000 in monthly direct deposits 60 days after account opening will earn 1% cash back on common everyday expenses and 0.50% cash back on all other eligible debit card purchases. Some limitations apply. Please refer to the applicable Upgrade VISA® Debit Card Agreement and Disclosures for more information.
3 The 1.5% Annual Percentage Yield (APY) for the Performance Savings account is effective as of June 1, 2023. The APY for the Performance Savings account is variable and may change at any time. Active Accounts qualify for 5.07% APY with monthly $1000 direct deposit. The APY for Active Accounts is effective as of September 1, 2023, is variable, and may change at any time. Please refer to the applicable Cross River Bank Performance Savings Deposit Account Agreement and Truth in Savings Disclosure. To earn APY, you must open and fund a Performance Savings account. Rewards Checking Plus accounts do not earn APY.
4 Early direct deposit requires set up of recurring electronic direct deposit from your employer, payroll, or benefits provider and is limited to direct deposits under $5000. Early access to direct deposit funds depends on the timing in which we receive notice of impending direct deposit, which is generally up to two days before the scheduled deposit date.
5 There are no overdraft fees or annual fees associated with Rewards Checking Plus accounts. Rewards Checking Plus charges no ATM fees, but third-party institutions may charge you a fee if you use their ATM/network or if you use your Upgrade VISA® Debit Card internationally. For Active Accounts, Upgrade will rebate ATM fees charged by another institution for debit card withdrawals in the United States, up to five times per calendar month. To be eligible to receive third-party ATM fee rebates in any calendar month for eligible ATM withdrawals made during that month on a Rewards Checking Plus account, the account must be an Active Account in the prior calendar month. See the Active Account page for more information. As a courtesy to new customers, Upgrade will provide third-party ATM fee rebates for 60 days after account opening regardless of account user status. Some limitations apply. Please refer to the applicable Cross River Bank Checking Deposit Account Agreement and Upgrade VISA® Debit Card Agreement and Disclosures for more information.