While nearly 10% of Arkansas residents are unbanked (meaning they can’t or won’t get a bank account), that doesn’t mean you have to settle for carrying cash or paying fees on prepaid debit cards. Even if you have a rocky past with your finances that has resulted in one or more ChexSystems records, you can still find a bank or credit union that’s right for you.
Can you really qualify for a bank account while in ChexSystems?
The answer is yes. Many financial institutions throughout Arkansas that don’t use ChexSystems or offer second chance checking accounts that are designed for your needs. Often, it takes only six months or a year to upgrade to a more flexible account. The benefits are two-fold: you get immediate access to a checking account, while also rebuilding a positive banking history.
To help you find the best options for your situation, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of non-ChexSystems and second chance checking accounts in Arkansas. There are also some online options available if you prefer a completely digital banking experience.
Ready for a free online checking account that doesn’t require a ChexSystems review? If so, check out the ClearConnect Checking account from BBVA Compass. There’s no monthly service fee or minimum balance required, and it takes just a $25 deposit to get your account opened. You also get all the benefits of a normal checking account, such as a free debit card and online and mobile banking.
There are more than 55,000 ATMs you can use for free across the country through either the Allpoint or BBVA Compass network. Activate your Simple Cash Back account and you can earn rewards on your most frequent debit card purchases. ClearConnect Checking also comes with overdraft protection and is available throughout the state of Arkansas.
You can apply for Second Chance Checking at BancorpSouth, but you’ll have to do it in person at a branch rather than online. They’ll review your check writing history to determine whether or not you qualify. If you do, the account comes with a debit card, free online banking, and unlimited check writing. Other perks include a mobile app, mobile wallet, and direct deposit. You can also use BudgetWi$e, BancorpSouth’s free budgeting tool.
Second Chance Checking comes with a $10 monthly fee regardless of your account balance. You’ll also need at least a $50 opening deposit. You can apply at one of the BancorpSouth’s Arkansas branches, which include Little Rock, Calico Rock, Jonesboro, Brinkley, Carlisle, Hot Springs, and more.
Consider Opportunity Banking from Bank of Arkansas, which is a second chance checking account designed to give you a fresh start. The monthly fee starts at $14.95 but that can be reduced to $9.95 if you sign up for qualifying direct deposits. The opening deposit must be at least $50.
You can request a refund on one overdraft fee each year, giving you a built-in buffer as you start to establish a better checking history. Other benefits include a free debit card, online banking, and bill pay. For in-person service, visit a Bank of Arkansas branch throughout the state.
You’ll find the Pathway Checking account at Bank OZK, available to those with a less than perfect banking history. It comes with a $10 monthly fee and a $50 minimum opening deposit, but you can access some nice perks with this account, including a debit card, mobile wallet, and overdraft protection. Plus, there’s no minimum balance you need to maintain each month.
You can apply to open a Pathway Checking account online or visit a branch in Arkansas. Headquartered in Little Rock, Bank OZK has a large footprint throughout the state, as well as across the rest of the southeast United States.
Designed for people seeking to re-establish their banking history, Centennial Bank offers the Opportunity 100 Checking account. You’ll need $100 to deposit into your account from the start, and you’ll also pay a monthly fee. With direct deposit, it’ll cost you $9.95 each month; without it, you’ll pay $12.95 each month.
This is also a great account if you’re looking for quick access because you get an instant-issue debit card when you apply in a branch. Other perks include mobile banking, bill pay, and free coin machine transactions. You’ll find Centennial Bank locations across the state of Arkansas.
For a completely mobile banking experience, consider Chime Bank. This app-driven bank offers a non-ChexSystems checking account, which you can also link to a savings account. Both are completely free and there’s no minimum balance required. One of the best things about the checking account is that it’s easy to track your finances with daily balance alerts as well as transaction alerts.
When you enroll in direct deposit, you can even get your funds up to two days faster in your account. Free ATM access is available throughout the country and while you don’t get checks, you can have them sent directly through your app.
Diamond Bank’s second chance checking account is called Diamond Encore. The minimum opening deposit is relatively high at $100, but there is some flexibility with the monthly fee. It starts at $10 but can be reduced to $8 per month when you enroll in direct deposit. Once you reach 12 months with no insufficient funds, you can switch to another checking account at Diamond Bank.
In addition to an instant-issue debit card, you get unlimited check writing and online and mobile banking services, including mobile deposit. You can find Diamond Bank locations in Glenwood, Mount Ida, Hot Springs, Murfreesboro, Dierks, Nashville, Mineral Springs, Mena, Hope, DeQueen, Ashdown, Russellville, and Texarkana.
First Service Bank is a non-ChexSystems bank and they also don’t use a credit report to approve new accounts. There are multiple checking accounts available, including Earn Checking, Earn 50+ Checking, Reward Checking, and General Checking.
The most accessible account for most people is General Checking. You’ll need a $100 opening deposit, but you can easily get the $5 monthly fee waived by enrolling in e-statements.
You can find multiple First Service Bank branches across Arkansas, including Conway, Clinton, Dermott, Flippin, Greenbrier, Little Rock, Marshall, Mountain View, Shirley, and Yellville.
Fresh Start Checking is a second chance account available from Focus Bank designed to rebuild your financial history. The monthly service fee is $7.95 but can be reduced to $5.95 by enrolling in e-statements. There’s no minimum balance with this account and it takes just a $50 deposit to get started.
You get a debit card with this account and can also purchase checks to use. Free benefits include online and mobile banking with check deposit. Focus Bank has Arkansas branches in Jonesboro, Marmaduke, and Paragould.
Fort Sill National Bank reportedly doesn’t use ChexSystems or Telecheck, so you could potentially be approved for an account. The easiest account to qualify for is Basic Checking.
There’s no direct deposit requirement and you need just $5 to open the account. If your balance falls below $75, you’ll be charged $5.50 each statement cycle. On the other hand, a balance above $500 starts to earn you interest.
Basic Checking comes with a free Visa CheckCard, basic online banking, unlimited check writing, and Savings Round Up. Fort Sill National Bank has branches located in Walmarts. In Arkansas, you can find them in Russellville, Conway, and Benton.
You could still qualify for an Easy Checking account with Hope Community Credit Union even if you have a ChexSystems record. You can also qualify with a low credit score. The account comes with a $9.95 monthly fee but that can be waived if you maintain a balance of $200 or more. Even with the monthly fee, you’ll need to keep at least $25 in your account.
You won’t get checks with this account, but you will get an ATM/check card. Direct deposit and overdraft protection are also available, in addition to online banking with bill pay and mobile banking. Hope Community Credit Union has branch locations in College Station, Little Rock, Pine Bluff, and West Memphis.
Fresh Start Checking from Red River Credit Union can get you back into banking even if you don’t qualify for a traditional checking account because of your ChexSystems history. There’s a $10 monthly maintenance fee, but you’ll receive an instant-issue debit card and the usual online banking features you’d see with regular accounts.
To qualify for membership at Red River Credit Union, you must live, work, worship, volunteer or attend school in one of the following Arkansas counties:
- Hot Spring
- Little River
Alternatively, you can join if you have a family member who is already part of Red River Credit Union.
You can qualify for River Valley Community Federal Credit Union’s Fresh Start Checking account if you have a history in ChexSystems within the last five years. There are some requirements you’ll need to meet, however. The record must be less than $300 and your charge-offs must be satisfied prior to opening the account.
Each month, you’ll pay a fee of $5 for Fresh Start checking. You’ll also need an opening deposit of $100, which will be placed on hold during the first 30 days. After 12 months of no instances of nonsufficient funds, you can upgrade to a traditional checking account. To join River Valley Community FCU, you must live, work, or worship in one of the following Arkansas counties: Ouachita, Calhoun, Columbia, Union, or Dallas.
Southern Bancorp is a non-ChexSystems bank with multiple checking account options. The most basic version is the Freedom Checking account. It requires a $100 opening deposit but the $2.95 monthly fee can be waived with e-statements. It’s a no-frills account to get you back into banking.
It’s easy to find a Southern Bancorp branch in Arkansas. In fact, there are over 20 branches throughout the state.
For a second chance account from a national bank, take a look at Wells Fargo’s Opportunity Checking. It’s made for people who would otherwise get denied for a traditional checking account, but it actually comes with quite a few perks.
First, the monthly fee is $10 but there are several easy ways to get that eliminated completely. You can either use your debit card ten or more times each month; enroll in direct deposit for $500 or more; or keep $1,500 in your account.
Other benefits with Opportunity Checking include a debit card, check writing abilities, and bill pay. Plus, the opening deposit to get started is just $25. There are Wells Fargo branches located throughout Arkansas.