15 Best Second Chance Bank Accounts

Should your banking history reveal past challenges and a less-than-ideal track record, some financial institutions may refuse to grant you access to a new account. 

Thankfully, some banks and credit unions offer a lifeline in the form of second chance banking by looking past their ChexSystems® reports and credit files, allowing individuals to access financial services regardless of their banking and credit history. 

After evaluating numerous accounts across different banks and financial institutions, our team at BidnessETC.com has curated a list of the top 15 second chance checking accounts with high approval rates and low fees.

The 15 best second chance banking accounts

Certain second-chance checking choices outshine others. The good ones provide minimal or no fees, extensive ATM availability, and modest initial and ongoing deposit prerequisites.

Below are 15 second chance banking accounts deserving of your consideration.

PNC Financial Services

Pittsburgh National Bank is a financial services corporation based in Pittsburgh. The bank clarified that they don’t use ChexSystems for account approval. Instead, they rely on ‘Early Warning Services.’

This brick-and-mortar bank offers the ‘Foundation Checking account,’ designed for people who may have encountered difficulties getting approved for a traditional checking account. You must visit a PNC branch in person to apply for this account.

Locations: Available in all states except Alaska and Hawaii.

  • Suggested account: Foundation Checking 
  • Monthly maintenance fee: $5 (waived for people over 62 years)
  • Minimum opening deposit: $0
  • Minimum balance required: $0

Additional info: 

  • Overdraft and returned item fees are $0; 
  • Cashier’s Checks and PNC Bank Visa Debit Card is included
  • PNC Pay is available for seamless digital transactions
  • Quickly deposit checks with PNC Mobile Deposit

Chime

Chime is a financial technology company and a neobank, with banking services provided by The Stride Bank or The Bancorp Bank.

After reaching out to representatives from Chime, we were informed that credit score evaluations are not conducted during the application process for any account. This makes them ideal options for people looking to open a checking account with a non-so-perfect credit history. 

Download the Chime mobile app and enter your details to open an account. Connect your existing account to transfer money. Use the temporary debit card to make purchases until you get your physical card in 7-10 days.

Locations: Online platform; no physical branches.

  • Suggested account: Chime Checking Account
  • Monthly maintenance fee: $0
  • Minimum deposit: $0
  • Minimum balance required: $0

Additional info:

  • No overdraft fees and a $200 free overdraft with SpotMe
  • 60k+ fee-free ATMs and free Chime Visa debit card with no forex fees
  • No network ATM withdrawal fee at Allpoint, Visa Plus Alliance, or MoneyPass ATMs
  • $2.50 charge (per transaction) for any out-of-network ATM withdrawal
  • Access to Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card with eligible direct deposit

SoFi

SoFi, a San Francisco-based financial company established in 2011, operates similarly to a traditional bank, providing diverse services and products. 

Unlike other non-ChexSystems accounts, with SoFi’s accounts, members with direct deposit can earn 4.50% APY on their savings balances and 0.50% APY on their checking balances.

As per the bank representative, SoFi does not use ChexSystems, making this fintech an ideal second chance option for people with a negative banking history.

Locations: 9 states, including California, New York, Florida and Texas.

  • Suggested account: SoFi Checking and Savings®
  • Monthly maintenance fee: $0
  • Minimum deposit: $0
  • Minimum balance required: $0

Additional info:

  • No minimum daily balance or monthly service charge
  • Fee-free overdraft coverage for debit card purchases, up to 50 dollars
  • Access to 55,000+ fee-free ATMs
  • Receive direct deposit funds earlier depending on payment file’s submission

The First Bank

Headquartered in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, The First Bancshares is the parent company of The First Bank, which has been serving communities across several states since 1996.

First Bank offers TheFirst Step Checking, a short-term loan and a second chance checking account specifically designed to assist individuals seeking a fresh financial start, as confirmed by the bank themselves.

Locations: Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.

  • Suggested account: TheFirst Step Checking
  • Monthly maintenance fee: $3
  • Minimum opening deposit: $15
  • Minimum balance required: $0

Additional info: 

  • Free debit card
  • Checks aren’t allowed
  • Free online banking, e-statements, and telephone banking
  • Account upgrade review available after six months.

Woodforest National Bank

Headquartered in The Woodlands, Texas, Woodforest National Bank utilizes ChexSystems for new account applications, as confirmed by the bank.

However, they offer the “Second Chance Checking” account specifically for individuals with a negative banking history. This account requires in-person branch visits for opening.

Locations: 780+ branches in 17 states

  • Suggested account: Second Chance Checking
  • Monthly maintenance fee: $9.95 with direct deposit; $11.95 without
  • Minimum opening deposit: $25 (with a $9 one-time account setup fee)
  • Minimum balance requirement: $0

Additional info: 

  • Online and mobile bill payment options
  • Seamless fund transfers, alerts, and secure mobile deposit functionality
  • E-statements available
  • $9.00 one-time fee for account setup

Dave

Dave, a financial app, collaborates with Evolve Bank & Trust, an FDIC member, to offer a bank account. Your deposits, up to $250,000, are federally insured, ensuring financial security.

The Dave Spending Account offered is a feature-rich, affordable alternative to a traditional checking account. Aimed at budgeters, this platform offers zero overdraft fees and competitive interest on checking accounts.

There are zero credit checks and no minimum balance requirements when signing up for a Dave Spending account – just pass a security check.



Locations: Online platform; no physical branches.

  • Suggested account: Spending Account
  • Monthly maintenance fee: $1
  • Minimum opening deposit: $0
  • Minimum balance required: $0

Additional info:

  • Fee-free withdrawals at over 37,000 ATMs (through the MoneyPass network)
  • Free Dave Debit Mastercard® instantly usable with Apple Pay® or Google Pay™
  • 4.00% APY on your checking account balance.
  • ExtraCash™ account available to advance up to $500 w/o interest and credit check
  • Use Green Dot for cash deposits – ATMs don’t take cash.
  • Set up a direct deposit to receive payment up to 2 days in advance.

US Bank 


US Bank, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is a national bank that allows online account opening from anywhere in the country. Their website ensures secure account setup with 128-bit encryption.

According to a representative, they offer the Safe Debit Checking account as a dedicated second-chance option with limited features like no check writing. They recommend trying to open the Smartly Checking account first and only considering Safe Debit if your application is denied.

Locations: 3,100 branches in the West and Midwest.

  • Suggested account: Safe Debit Checking (or Smartly Checking)
  • Monthly maintenance fee: $4.95 for Safe Debit Checking. $6.95, waived with $1000+ direct deposits or $1500+ balance for Smartly Checking. 
  • Minimum opening deposit: $25
  • Minimum balance required: $0

Additional info: 

  • Ideal for debit card users; checks not provided
  • Industry’s strongest available encryption
  • Free U.S. Bank Visa Debit Card with no overdraft fees
  • Mobile check deposits and mobile banking via mobile app
  • No transaction fees at U.S. Bank ATMs and no surcharge fees at MoneyPass ATMs

Varo Bank

Varo Bank, also called Varo Money, is a neobank that offers a comprehensive financial service suite. Since it is an online-only bank, it operates without any physical bank branches.

To open a Varo Bank account, download the Varo Bank mobile app, provide personal information, verify your identity, set up your account, and add your card to your mobile wallet.

Our team reached out to the bank, and we were informed that they do not conduct credit checks for opening a new account. Instead, they collaborate with various partners to authenticate identities and protect against fraud and identity theft.

Locations: Online platform; no physical branches.

  • Suggested account: Varo Bank Account
  • Monthly maintenance fee: $0
  • Minimum opening deposit: $0
  • Minimum balance required: $0

Additional info: 

  • Access to Free Varo Debit card and 40,000 + fee-free in-network ATMs
  • No overdraft fees or minimum balance fees
  • Early direct deposit helps you get paid two days earlier
  • Payments facilitated with Zelle
  • Varo Believe Credit-Builder Card available with $500 direct deposits 
  • Automatic payments and credit building.enabled via the card

Current

Current is a neobank and a financial technology enterprise; Its banking services are provided by the FDIC member Choice Financial Group.

Current offers the ‘Build Card,’ a secured credit card that helps build credit by reporting each transaction as credit. Simply add money to your current account, and your credit card spending limit gets automatically updated. 


The representative on X stated, “There’s no minimum credit score required. No credit check is conducted during sign-up; we only request basic information.”

Locations: Online platform; no physical branches.

  • Suggested product: Build Card
  • Monthly maintenance fee: starts from $0 
  • Minimum deposit: $0
  • Minimum balance required: $0

Additional info:

  • Credit-building features like credit bureau reporting and AutoPay
  • Mobile check deposits possible with the Current app
  • With direct deposits, get paid two days earlier 
  • No bank transfer fee, annual fees and in-network fees 
  • 4.00% APY savings rate on ‘Savings Pods.’
  • Fee-free overdraft

First American Bank 

First American Bank operates as a community financial institution catering to customers’ needs in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Florida. Although privately owned, the bank prides itself on its diverse range of services and products despite its limited size.

The bank offers the Fresh Start Checking account, a dedicated second-chance checking account explicitly designed to help people to regain control of their finances, as stated on their official website.

Locations: 60+ branches in Illinois, Florida, and Wisconsin.

  • Suggested account: Fresh Start Checking
  • Monthly maintenance fee: $9.95 monthly fee
  • Minimum opening deposit: $50 deposit
  • Minimum balance required: $0 

Additional info: 

  • Unlimited check writing
  • Interest earning on checking balance is not available 
  • Free Mastercard debit card, eStatements, and online banking
  • Access to 55,000+ surcharge-free partner ATMs

GTE Financial

GTE Federal Credit Union, also known as GTE Financial, is a well-established financial institution in Tampa, Florida. While they use ChexSystems, individuals with poor credit can still get the ‘Go Further account.’

>> Read up on Credit Unions that Don’t Use ChexSystems

Location: 24 locations across Florida

  • Suggested account: Go Further account
  • Monthly maintenance fee: $9.95, waived with qualifying deposit, transactions, and e-statements.
  • Minimum opening deposit: $5
  • Minimum balance required: $0

Additional information: 

  • Free debit card and 30,000 fee-free ATMs available
  • Unlimited check writing
  • 24/7 virtual banking via online, mobile, or telephone
  • Facility of Mobile Deposit through the GTE Mobile App
  • Free upgrade to regular account in 1 year (criteria apply)

Bank OZK 

Bank OZK is a well-established regional bank founded in 1903. With over 240 offices spread across eight states, including Arkansas, Georgia, and Florida, Bank OZK offers various banking services. 

Applicants with past banking issues can find a fresh start with OZK Pathway Checking (their second chance account), even though ChexSystems is reviewed during the application process, as confirmed by the bank representative. 

Locations: Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Texas, New York, California, and Mississippi

  • Suggested account: OZK Pathway Checking
  • Monthly maintenance fee: $10
  • Minimum opening deposit: $50
  • Minimum balance required: $0

Additional info: 

  • Free Visa debit card
  • Unlimited check writing and paper statements
  • Online banking and mobile banking

Peoples Bank


Founded in 1988, Peoples Bank is a state-chartered bank headquartered in Paris, Texas. They operate two branches across the city, offering banking services like savings and checking accounts, mortgages, and loans.

As confirmed by the representatives, Peoples Bank provides a “Second Chance Checking” option for individuals with negative items on their credit, telecheck, or ChexSystems reports.

Locations: 2 branches in Texas

  • Suggested account: Second Chance Checking
  • Monthly maintenance fee: $4.95
  • Minimum opening deposit: $30
  • Minimum balance required: $0

Additional info: 

  • Zero transaction fees for check writing or cash deposits
  • Online banking features, bill pay, and mobile banking services offered
  • ATM/MasterCard access, subject to eligibility criteria.

Axiom Bank

Founded in 1963, Axiom Bank USA is a Florida-based community bank specializing in commercial loans, treasury management, and consumer banking services for individuals and businesses. 

The bank representative clarified that they do offer second chance banking through their ‘Opportunity Checking account’ despite the use of ChexSystems reports.

Locations: Central Florida

  • Suggested account: Opportunity Checking account 
  • Monthly maintenance fee: $12.95 (Reduced to $8.95 with direct deposit)
  • Minimum opening deposit: $25
  • Minimum balance required: $0

Additional info: 

  • Unlimited check writing
  • Debit Card for $12 per year
  • No-fee mobile banking
  • Facility to deposit checks through the Axiom Mobile banking app

Renasant Bank 

Renasant Bank, based in Mississippi, provides a hassle-free banking experience regardless of your past banking mistakes. The screening process does not involve using ChexSystems, ensuring seamless account approval. You can choose between various checking options, including three standard accounts and a dedicated student checking account to suit your needs.

Locations: 200+ branches in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee and Florida

  • Suggested account: Simple Checking
  • Monthly maintenance fee: $10 ($0 if you maintain a $1000 minimum balance)
  • Minimum opening deposit: $50
  • Minimum balance required: $0

Additional info: 

  • Various payment options supported, including Zelle, Apple Pay, and Google Pay
  • Unlimited check-writing and mobile check deposits
  • ‘Renasant Bill Pay’ to set up scheduled payments

What Is Second Chance Banking?



Second chance banking is a type of banking arrangement for individuals with previous financial difficulties or poor banking histories, such as bounced checks, unpaid overdraft fees, outstanding negative balances, or account closures.

Second chance bank accounts, despite potential feature gaps, provide a crucial opportunity for those reported to consumer reporting agencies like ‘ChexSystems’ due to past banking mistakes.

But how?

Well, once you have negative banking records associated with you, you could be denied a standard bank account. But second chance banks look past these records and give an opportunity regardless. 

>> Read up on Second Chance Banking: In-Depth Guide

How Does Second Chance Banking Work?

Before granting an account, banks may perform two kinds of checks: ‘credit checks’ and ‘ChexSystems checks.’ If these checks reveal past banking issues, it indicates to banks that the individual poses a higher risk than others with a perfect banking history.

Banks may use other services like Early Warning Services (EWS), TeleCheck, Shared Check Authorization Network (SCAN), and Certegy Check Services instead of or along with ChexSystem to assess individuals.

Most second chance banks do utilize ChexSystems reports during the approval process but they are more lenient with the screening and often look past most negative records.

They focus on enabling individuals to establish or rebuild their banking history, offering an opportunity to showcase improved financial responsibility with minimal fees and lower entry barriers.

But if you’re looking for banks that don’t use ChexSystems at all during their screening process, check out our Best Non-ChexSystems Banks article.

What Makes A Good Second Chance Bank Account?


When you’re getting a new second chance banking account, here are some essential things to look for:

  • Reasonable Fees: Look for an account with transparent, reasonable fees that you can afford. Avoid accounts with excessive monthly service fees.
  • Low Minimum Balance Requirement: Prefer an account with a low or no minimum balance requirement to avoid fees if the account balance drops below a certain level.
  • Minimum opening deposit: Second chance accounts with low minimum deposit requirements create a low entry barrier, allowing easy access to basic banking needs.
  • No Overdraft Fees: A good second chance banking account may avoid overdraft fees, offering options like lower fees or overdraft protection to ease financial strain. 
  • Graduation Option: Look for accounts that offer a pathway to “graduate” to a regular bank account after a certain period of responsible account management.
  • Spending Control: Second chance accounts should prevent overspending by restricting transactions to your available balance, preventing you from going into debt.

Tip: If you consider yourself tech-savvy, look for bank accounts with budgeting tools, user-friendly mobile apps, and straightforward online banking for a seamless and intuitive experience.

Prepaid Debit Cards: Your Second Chance Account Alternative?


If you’re having trouble opening a regular bank account, there are short-term alternatives such as prepaid debit cards, secured credit cards, money market accounts, and online banking services.

Prepaid debit cards act like digital wallets; they hold pre-loaded funds, which can be used for purchases or cash withdrawals. They operate independently with bank accounts and are ideal for controlled spending and credit-building.

These cards are more accessible due to minimal approval requirements. And they promote responsible spending by preventing overdrafts. 

Second chance checking, while initially costly, offers long-term cost savings and flexibility compared to prepaid cards due to lower fees and wider features like direct deposit and check writing.

Another viable option can be a secured credit card for limited or bad credit. It requires a deposit as collateral, and with responsible use, it helps improve your credit. Be cautious of fees and high APR if not paid promptly.

Fixing ChexSystems reports to get standard banking accounts

If you prefer opening a standard checking account instead of beginning with a second chance account, or if you aim to upgrade to a regular checking account gradually, focus on resolving negative ChexSystems entries to enhance your reliability as a customer.

Start by getting a free copy of your report—you’re entitled to one every 12 months. Once you receive your report, review it for any errors or signs of fraud. If you find any wrong info, you have the right to dispute it.

You can contact the company that reported the information or let ChexSystems handle the dispute process via dispute letters.

Next, check your report for any outstanding balances you owe to banks. If you find any, contact the banks directly to settle them. Once you’ve paid off the debts, ask the institutions to remove the negative marks from your ChexSystems report.

>> Read the full in-depth guide: How to Fix Your ChexSystems

Additional Tips:

  • Continue managing your finances wisely. Track expenses, avoid unnecessary debt, and prioritize savings.
  • Regularly check your consumer scores and report to track progress and identify areas for improvement.
  • Consider ‘Credit-Builder Loans’: Some banking institutions offer credit-builder loans designed to help people establish or rebuild credit.

FAQ


Answers to Common Questions About Second Chance Banking.

Q. Can I get a second chance bank account if I’ve gone through bankruptcy?

Generally, people with a history of bankruptcy can open a second chance bank account. Nonetheless, criteria can vary between banks, making it advisable to verify with the particular bank you are interested in.

Q. Does second chance banking help my credit score?

Second chance banking usually doesn’t affect your credit score directly. But, if you manage your money well—like paying bills on time—you might get chances for credit in the future, giving you opportunities to raise your credit score over time.

Q. How long do you stay in ChexSystems?

ChexSystems keeps reported information for about five years from when it was reported unless the source asks for its removal or ChexSystems is required by law or policy to remove it earlier.

Q. Do all banks use ChexSystems?

Many banks and credit unions use ChexSystems for checking reports, but some offer second-chance banking. These banks don’t check ChexSystems or overlook certain negative reports.

Q. Which is better for second chance banking: credit unions or traditional banks?

While credit unions seem better for second chance banking, offering lower fees, higher interest rates, and member-centric support, choosing the right fit requires understanding the differences between credit unions and traditional banks.

Q. Do second chance banks check credit reports?
Second chance banks may check credit reports. Specific policies vary, with some performing soft inquiries that don’t impact your score and others doing hard inquiries. Check with the bank to understand their credit check approach.

>> Read up on 5 Ways to Remove Negative Credit Report Entries.

Q. Is Chime a second chance bank?

Yes, Chime is considered a second chance bank. This online bank offers basic banking services specifically designed for individuals with challenging credit histories and does not conduct credit score checks when you apply for their accounts.

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