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Second Chance Banking: Top 10 Banks To Restore Your Privileges

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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 end up sticking 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.

There are several checking account reporting companies you may have never heard of until you get denied for a checking account.

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.

10 Second Chance Banking Options

With second chance banking, negative checking account reports are overlooked and people are approved for real bank accounts. These are second chance checking accounts accessible to anyone in the U.S., even if the bank does not have local branches in your city.

1. OneUnited Bank

OneUnited Bank’s Online Checking Account is available to people in ALL STATES. We like OneUnited Bank because customers can add cash to the OneUnited Bank Debit Card at over 90,000 locations across the country through a partnership with Green Dot®.

OneUnited Bank offers the Black Wall Street Checking account with no monthly fee. However, if you don’t qualify, they offer the U2 E-Checking Account specifically designed for bad credit.

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 ($25.00 minimum), then complete your identification details (name, address, SSN, and employer).

Black Wall Street Checking Account Features

  • Minimum opening deposit of $25 (can be funded with a credit card).
  • No monthly fee.
  • Get paid up to 2 days early with early direct deposit.
  • Free Online & Mobile Banking.
  • Obtain Cash, Surcharge Free at Over 35,000 ATMs Nationwide.
  • Deposit checks through the mobile app.
  • Free Bill Pay
  • OneUnited also offers a secured credit card that reports to the major credit bureaus.

2. Upgrade Rewards Checking

Unlimited-cash-back-checking-account
The Upgrade Rewards Checking Account offers up to 2% cash back on common everyday expenses at grocery and drug stores, gas stations, monthly subscriptions, restaurants, and cell phone utilities. Plus, account holders get unlimited 1% cash back on all other debit card charges. This account takes less than 10 minutes to open, the process is simple and easy.

Upgrade Rewards Checking Features

  • No ATM fee, no account fee, no monthly, and no overdraft fee.
  • 2% cash back on common everyday expenses and recurring payments and unlimited 1% cash back on every other debit card charge.
  • Use your Rewards Checking card wherever Visa® is accepted.
  • Upgrade will rebate ATM fees charged by another institution up to five times a month when you meet certain conditions.
  • As an added bonus, Rewards Checking customers can receive discounts on new loans and cards through Upgrade.
  • FDIC-insured up to $250,000.

Rewards Checking customers 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 charges. 2% cash back is limited to $500 in rewards per calendar year; after $500, customers earn 1% cash back on all eligible debit card charges for the remainder of the year. Some limitations apply. Please refer to the applicable Upgrade VISA® Debit Card Agreement and Disclosures for more information.
Upgrade is a financial technology company, not a bank. Rewards Checking services provided by Cross River Bank, Member FDIC. Upgrade VISA® Debit Cards issued by Cross River Bank, Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. Personal Loans made by Upgrade’s bank partners. Personal Credit Lines are issued by Cross River Bank, a New Jersey State Chartered Commercial Bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender. The Upgrade Card is issued by Sutton Bank, Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc.

5. Current – Banking for modern life

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Current Account does not use ChexSytems or a credit report to open accounts. One unique feature Current offers is their no-holds on debit card gas purchases. Some gas stations may apply a hold of up to $100 when you use a debit card. These holds lock the amount being held, making it unavailable for spending. The Current debit card will immediately refund the hold so that you don’t have available funds locked for days.

Current Account Features

  • $10 minimum opening deposit.
  • No overdraft fees when you overdraw by up to $200 with Overdrive™.
  • Get your paycheck up to 2 days early with direct deposit.
  • Earn points for unlimited cashback at participating retailers.
  • Gas station holds immediately credited to your account.
  • Send money instantly for free.
  • 24/7 member support.

6. Go Further Checking – 200 Welcome Bonus

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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.
You must use Referral Code E599076ICB and use the Promo Code JOIN2000 in order to get the $200 welcome bonus.

Go Further Checking Account Features

  • Access to 30,000 free ATMs.
  • 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.
  • Unlimited check writing.
  • Account Balance Alerts.
  • Free Bill Pay
  • Remote Deposit – with the GTE Mobile App and Deposit2Go.
  • Note: To get the $200 Bonus you must use referral code E599076ICB and use the Promo Code JOIN200 during the application process. You’ll get an opportunity to insert the referral code during the application process once you get to “Lastly, here’s an awesome member benefit.”



7. Chime Checking Account

chime-does-not-use-chexsystems
Chime is a no credit check checking account with no monthly bank fees. The Chime Checking Account is similar to a second chance checking with no opening deposit that practically anyone at least 18 years old and a US Citizen can open.

Plus, if you need a credit card for bad credit, Chime will offer you a no credit check Visa credit card that reports to the three major credit bureaus, has no interest fees and no annual fee.

Chime Checking Account Features

  • Chime will spot you up to $200 on debit card purchases with no overdraft fees. Eligibility requirements apply.¹
  • Get paid up to 2 days earlyˆ with direct deposit.
  • Chime Visa® Debit Card.
  • Transfer money, send and deposit checks and pay bills.
  • 60K+ fee-free ATMs˜ at locations like Walgreens, 7-Eleven, CVS, and more.
  • An optional savings account earns 0.50% (APY).
  • Leniency for people with previous checking account problems.
  • No monthly or overdraft fees.
  • Daily balance updates.

Full Chime Review


Benefits of second chance banking 

Financial stability requires access to resources. Second chance banking gives unbanked people access to resources not offered by check cashing stores, prepaid debit cards or money orders. Say you need a safe place to save money. A bank is the most logical place for most people. However, the unbanked don’t have that option and it can cost them in many ways.

In the wake of California’s most deadliest and destructive fire in Butte County (Camp Fire, Nov. 2018), some unbanked residents found it difficult to get federal assistance because they did not have a bank account. One resident even reported he lost $20,000 in cash savings that burned in the fire.

Second chance banking offers financial stability by removing barriers to banking and promoting wealth building among unbanked people.

Another option for people who have been denied a checking account is to find banks that don’t use ChexSystems to open checking accounts. Second chance banking might include pulling a ChexSystems report but the bank doesn’t hold past mistakes against you.

What to watch out for with second chance banking

Second chance banking accounts are specifically designed for people who messed up their bank accounts but want to get back into banking. The banking industry varies when it comes to second chance banking accounts.

Here are several things to watch out for when researching second chance banking options:

  • Second chance banking accounts may come with more limitations than standard checking accounts.
  • Checking writing privileges may be limited or non-existent.
  • Fees are likely to come with second chance checking accounts.
  • Some banks offer upgraded, standard accounts after 12 months of good account management, so avoid overdrafts.
  • Direct deposit may be required to open some second chance checking accounts. But the good news is that setting up direct deposit can lower or completely eliminate a monthly fee requirement.

Second chance banking can help your credit profile

While bank accounts are not reflected in your FICO scores, many lenders will ask if you have a checking or savings account when applying for home, car, business or personal loans. Having open and positive accounts is important because it reflects favorably on your ability to manage finances.

A positive checking account shows you know how to manage your money properly. A positive savings account shows lenders that you are saving for your future and have an emergency fund. Even if you have bad credit, lenders that offer second chance loans will require you have an active checking or savings account.

Overdraft protection should be part of your second chance banking option

Get overdraft protection when you open a second chance checking account, it can save your account from being reported to ChexSystems 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.

But with NSFs you can be charged multiple fees by your bank, along with a fee from the depositor’s bank in addition to a returned check fee charged by the person to whom you owe the payment, these fees can easily add up to well over $100 per NSF item.

Benefits of overdraft protection:

  • If you lack sufficient funds, overdraft protection covers the transaction for a fee.
  • Prevents embarrassment when you are checking out so your debit card is not declined.
  • You don’t have to worry about situations where you have a payment due on a certain date but may be short on the funds to cover the full amount.

While overdraft protection can be helpful but unless you have a linked account to draw from you should not make it a habit to frequently overdraw your account, as the fees can start to add up.

The best way to avoid fees associated with NSFs and overdrafts is to monitor your account balance and keep track of your spending.

Overhaul your finances

Opening a second chance bank account is the first major step to get financially fit! The next step is to understand your credit score and ensure your credit reports are accurate. A healthy credit score means you’re more likely to be approved for mortgage, car, personal, student, or business loans. Healthy credit scores also improve the terms and rates on those loans.

Empower your finances by ordering your credit report and scores. You are entitled to a free credit report from each of the major credit three credit bureaus once every 12 months and during the COVID-19 pandemic, you can get weekly free credit reports. But free credit reports will not come with free credit scores.

Many people subscribe to free sites to get their credit scores but don’t realize they are not getting access to the credit scores used by 90 percent of banks and lenders. To first understand your credit score you should get your real FICO scores. Experian gives you access to a credit report and FICO score for $1. You can also get FICO scores for the 3 major credit bureaus at myFICO.com.

How to Remove Credit Report Errors

Once you get your credit report and scores, it’s time to look for possible errors. The reason you want to spot and correct or delete errors is the impact an error could have on your credit scores. Remember, credit scores are a major component to financial fitness just like having a bank account.

Credit bureaus are required by law, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, to only report accurate information on your credit reports. However, it is up to you to spot errors on your credit reports. Once you spot an error on your credit report, take steps to dispute it.

Start saving money with your second chance bank account

The key to getting financially fit is saving money. Whether you’re saving for your first house or investment property or a major purchase, maintaining a healthy savings goes a long way. Most bad credit is a result of not having an emergency fund to rely on when life happens — job loss, illness, major repairs, you name it.

Good techniques for effective saving include:

  • Put your savings on automatic with direct deposit from your employer. Allocate a portion of your income to go directly to a savings account. What you don’t see, you don’t miss.
  • Keep track of your spending. Online banking offers tools and alerts giving you 24/7 access to your accounts. Download a mobile app that keeps track of your spending. Know where your money goes.
  • Get the family involved. It is easier to save when everyone is excited and working towards the same goal.
  • Get the most for your money with a high-interest savings account.

Use your new bank to become a homeowner or investor

You may already own a home, but if not, once you open a second chance bank account make homeownership your number one goal. Your home may be your greatest asset. Now that you’re saving money start to prepare your credit files for homeownership. Homeownership is a dynamic experience that requires a tremendous amount of care and attention.

Some things you can do immediately to prepare for owning a home are the following:

  • Reduce your debt. If your debt-to-income ratio is too high, your bank will likely not consider you for a mortgage loan; or, any type of loan. High debt, even when it’s paid on time, is considered high risk. In fact, mortgage lenders say high debt, not credit scores is the number one factor in denying mortgage loans.
  • Save a downpayment. It’s tough to save money when using a check cashing store or piggy bank. A second chance bank gives you access to a safe place to store your money while earning interest. The down payment is one of the most significant components to purchasing a home. It used to be that a 20% downpayment was required to purchase a new home but times have changed.
  • Homebuyers can buy a home with as little as three to five percent down. If you do put less than 20% down, you will probably have to purchase private mortgage insurance, which will cost you between .5% to 1% of the loan amount until your equity reaches the full 20%. Keep in mind that the more you put down, the less your mortgage payment will be.
  • Don’t take on new credit obligations. Don’t aggressively open new credit accounts while preparing to purchase a home. The last thing your bank wants to see is that you are taking on new debt. Unless you have no positive credit accounts reporting in your credit files, refrain from opening new accounts. If you need to open new credit cards make sure you keep the balances to less than 30% of your available credit. In fact, for the best credit scores consider keeping your balances at 10% or less of your available credit.
  • Consider FHA Mortgage Loans. Your second chance bank may offer FHA loans. FHA loans are easier to qualify for when people have less than perfect credit. Credit scores can be as low as 500 for FHA loans, however, most banks will want you to have at least a 620 credit score. Most banks require that total housing costs not exceed 28% of gross monthly income, and total debt payments per month (including the mortgage) not surpass 36%.But FHA has is less stringent requirements. FHA requires that total housing costs not exceed 31% of gross monthly income, and total debt payments not exceed 43%. But there are exceptions to FHA general guidelines. Total debt payments can be as high as 50% for certain borrowers, particularly those with good credit and other “compensating factors.

Here is a sample chart of required credit scores for FHA Mortgage Loans and Compensating factors for high debt.


Image: Compensating factors for debt ratios in manual underwriting. Source: HUD Handbook 4000.1

Final thoughts

As you can see there are many benefits to building a banking relationship. Access to credit is one of the unique benefits of establishing an account at a second chance bank. Access to credit and homeownership is not part of banking at a check-cashing store or using a prepaid debit card.

3 thoughts on “Second Chance Banking: Top 10 Banks To Restore Your Privileges”

  1. During this pandemic scammers have been patrolling the internet looking for unsuspecting and innocent Senior Citizens. If you fall prey to scammers instead of the bank assisting you they will close your account because you are high risk. There should be a way to have banks protect their clients from scammers

    1. Hi Anthony,

      I definitely agree with you that banks should protect their customers against scammers. But banks are risk-averse meaning they will do what they have to first to mitigate risk, then ask questions later. Unfortunately, it’s up to you to call, write and make complaints if a bank has unfairly closed your account due to scammers.

      Plus, if fraud has occurred and money was taken from your account from a debit card or electronic transaction, you have rights. You are not responsible for any unauthorized charges made after you notify the bank.

      Here are two major protections:

      1. Debit cards transactions

      For a lost or stolen debit card, your losses will be limited depending on how quickly you report the loss or theft of the card:

      • If you notify the bank within 2 business days of learning that your card has been lost or stolen, the most you can lose is $50 or the amount of unauthorized charges made before you call, whichever is less.
      • If you notify the bank more than the 2 business days described above but less than 60 days after your statement is provided, you can lose up to $50 in charges made in the first 2 business days plus any subsequent unauthorized charges made before you report the loss, up to a total maximum of $500.
      • If you fail to report the fraud charges within 60 days after your bank statement is sent, there is no cap on your liability for unauthorized charges made after those 60 days. Within the first 60 days, your losses are capped as previously noted.

      If your physical debit card itself is not lost or stolen, you are not liable for any fraud charges using your debit card number if you report the fraud within 60 days after your statement is sent.

      2. Electonic Funds Transfer Act

      The Electronic Funds Transfer Act requires banks to follow specific “error resolution” procedures to resolve these disputes.

      This protection allows you to dispute errors involving your debit card or other electronic transactions such as a direct deposit from your employer or a monthly electronic withdrawal to pay your mortgage. The Electronic Funds Transfer Act requires banks to follow specific “error resolution” procedures to resolve these disputes.

      Under the law, you must dispute an error within sixty (60) days of the first bank statement with the error. You may raise the dispute either in writing or orally, but the bank can ask that you send a written confirmation of the dispute within 10 days of an oral dispute. It may be a good idea to submit a dispute in writing so that you have a record of it.

      Here are some examples of what you can dispute:

      • Unauthorized charges.
      • This transfer from my account is for an incorrect amount.
      • I am missing a transaction (e.g., direct deposit) to my account.
      • The bank made a math error on my monthly statement.
      • I tried to withdraw $100 from the bank’s ATM, but the ATM only gave me $80, yet the receipt and my bank statement say I withdrew $100.
      • I can’t identify this transaction to my account. Please send me additional information about this transaction.

      Your dispute letter or email should include:

      • Your name and sufficient information to identity your account.
      • The date, type, and dollar amount of the error.
      • An explanation of why you believe an error exists.

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