Living in Washington, DC affords you countless unique opportunities, and a robust banking experience is no exception. This is even true if you’ve made financial mistakes in the past and have a record in ChexSystems. While a ChexSystems history may seem like a roadblock in getting a new checking account, it doesn’t have to be.

There are credit unions and banks that don’t use ChexSystems in District of Columbia or that offer second chance checking accounts. Either option allows you to qualify for an account you otherwise thought out of your reach.

How can you get started in your search for the right bank or credit union? We’ve got the full list below, along with details on who can qualify and how to get started.

BBVA Compass ClearConnect Checking

Our Top Pick
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on BBVA Compass' secure website

ClearConnect Checking from BBVA Compass is a free, non-ChexSystems account.There’s no monthly fee and there’s just a required opening deposit of $25. After that, you don’t need to maintain any minimum balance. As an online bank, BBVA Compass allows you to completely manage your checking account online or through their mobile app. You also get free ATM usage when you select a machine that’s either in the BBVA Compass or Allpoint network.

Extra perks include mobile deposit, bill pay, and a cash back rewards program every time you use your debit card. You can also sign up for overdraft protection if you’d like. For an extra $4 per month, you can add on ClearBenefits, which is an identity theft protection service. Paper statements cost $3 per month or you can opt for e-statements for free.

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Chime Bank

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on Chime's secure website

Chime Bank is another online bank available to residents in the District of Columbia. You actually get total account access through Chime’s mobile app. Their second chance checking account helps you keep track of your finances by sending you balance alerts as well as transaction alerts. This way, you never have to wonder how much cash you have in your account before you make a purchase.

Chime Bank is especially advantageous if you have direct deposit because your funds will be available in your account up to two days faster than normal. You get free ATM access with MoneyPass and Visa Plus Alliance machines. Chime also offers a savings account that you can connect to your checking in order to create an easy, automated savings plan.

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CommonWealth One Federal Credit Union

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on CommonWealth One's secure website

CommonWealth One Federal Credit Union offers Second Chance Checking to help you get a fresh start with your finances. In order to get more details and apply for an account, you’ll have to visit a branch in person. There are branches throughout the Washington, DC metro area in Alexandria and Springfield. If you’re a GAO employee, you can access their on-site private branch.

Curious about membership to CommonWealth One Federal Credit Union? The easiest way to join is if you live, work, worship, or go to school in Alexandria, Washington, DC, Harrisonburg, Warren County, or Clarke County, Virginia.

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Library of Congress Federal Credit Union

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on Library of Congress' secure website

Opening an account with the Library of Congress Federal Credit Union doesn’t entail any kind of check reporting system or credit check. They offer a Free Checking account, so there’s no monthly charge or minimum account balance. This comes with both a Visa debit card and unlimited check writing, making it an extremely flexible option.

You get free access to a large network of ATMs, plus 10 transactions at non-LCFCU ATMs each month. There’s also a free program you can use to help you learn more about budgeting, called Balance Financial Fitness.

To join the Library of Congress Federal Credit Union, you must work at a participating employer or be a family member of an existing LCFCU member. There are nearly 40 participating employers in the DC region, so there could be a good chance you qualify for membership.

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Premier Bank

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on Premier Bank's secure website

Premier Bank offers a StartFresh banking program for anyone who has a negative checking history they want to rebound from. It begins with StartFresh First Step, an account that comes with a debit card but no check writing.

With direct deposit, you’ll qualify for a monthly fee of $7.95. Otherwise, you’ll pay $9.95 a month. There’s a $50 opening deposit required and after 12 months of successfully managing your account, you can upgrade to the StartFresh Checking account.

StartFresh Checking comes with the same fees and opening deposit requirement, but you also get checks in addition to your debit card. It takes 18 months of keeping this account in good standing to upgrade to a regular checking account. You’ll find Premier Bank branches on Connecticut Avenue, K Street, 17th Street (Dupont Circle), and First Street NE (NoMa).

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United Bank

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on United's secure website

United Bank doesn’t use ChexSystems or a credit report to approve account applications. There are three checking account options: United Rewards Checking, Platinum Checking, and United Free Checking. Free Checking comes with a Visa check card, free e-statements, mobile banking with check deposit, and online banking with bill pay. There’s no minimum balance and you also get access to Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Android Pay with this account.

United Bank has multiple branches in Washington, DC. These include Glover Park, Georgetown, U Street, G Street, and Spring Valley. There are also locations in Maryland and Northern Virginia if you work in DC but live just outside the city and want to access a branch closer to home.

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Wells Fargo

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on Wells Fargo's secure website

Wells Fargo has branches throughout Washington, DC and offers a second chance account called Opportunity Checking. To qualify for this account, you first have to be denied a traditional account because of your ChexSystems history. Once approved, you’ll need just $25 as your opening deposit. Then there’s no minimum balance required. Opportunity Checking comes with a $10 monthly service fee, but you can get it waived in one of the following ways:

  • Post 10 or more debit card transactions each month
  • Sign up for at least $500 in monthly direct deposits
  • Maintain at least a $1,500 daily balance

You get a debit card and check writing abilities with this account, plus standard features like online and mobile banking. You can even sign up for overdraft protection if you open up an Opportunity Savings account as well.

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