Even though the national economy is booming, many Florida residents are finding it difficult to qualify for a checking account. In fact, in many communities throughout the state, the percentage of unbanked people is actually rising.
Why aren’t so many Floridians able to qualify? One reason is that they might have negative records in ChexSystems. If you’ve ever accumulated bank fees like overdraft or ATM fees and haven’t paid them, for example, that history is usually kept in the ChexSystems database. Similarly, you may have a record if you consistently wrote bad checks or had other types of non-sufficient funds in the past.
With this kind of history, banks may not be willing to approve you for a checking account anymore, even if you’re in a better financial situation or learned to manage your finances better. At this point, it’s time to start looking for non-ChexSystems banks and second chance banking.
Luckily, there are many credit unions and banks in Florida that don’t use ChexSystems as part of the application process or offer second chance checking accounts for people like you.
BBVA Compass offers an excellent checking account called ClearChoice Interest Checking. It is openly available to residents of Florida and is provided for free with no monthly service charge. The minimum opening deposit is $25.
In addition to a free Visa debit card, you also get unlimited check writing, no ATM fees when using BBVA Compass ATMs, and cash back on daily debit transactions through the Simple Cash Back program.
Chime is another awesome checking option available to those who live in the Sunshine State. It’s an all-digital financial firm, which means it can offer top-end financial products at bottom-of-the-barrel prices, by which we mean, absolutely free e-checking.
When Chime says “fee-free,” they mean it: your account will carry no minimum opening deposit or account balance, and you’ll be charged no overdraft, foreign transaction, or withdrawal fees, either.
They also have more than 38,000 in-network ATMs to choose from. And if you get direct deposit, rejoice: you’ll be able to access your funds up to two days earlier than you would with other bank options.
Chime also offers an automatic savings function that can make getting back on firm financial ground totally hassle-free, as well as a suite of account security features through its mobile app, like the option to instantly disable your debit card.
Ameris Bank uses ChexSystems, but as long as the report has since been settled, only one bank is reported, and there are no previous reports indicating fraud or account abuse, applicants should not have any issues opening a new account. Ameris has multiple locations throughout northern, western, and central Florida, and it currently offers four checking accounts.
It’s the cheapest account is At-Ease Checking, which doesn’t charge a monthly fee nor have a minimum account balance. It offers free online, mobile, and text banking, as well as free bill pay. To open an account, an initial $25 deposit is required.
Army Aviation uses ChexSystems, but is more lenient than other banks and credit unions. If the report is at least 2 years old, the infraction was not fraud related, and all balances have been paid in full, Army Aviation will disregard any ChexSystems reports.
Army Aviation currently has two locations in Santa Rosa Beach and Defuniak Springs. Membership is available to anyone who lives, works, worships or studies in Walton County, or who is active duty military, a civilian, or a retiree of Fort Rucker. Employees of affiliated civilian business are also eligible.
Axiom Bank uses ChexSystems but has a second chance checking account called Opportunity Checking. Opportunity Checking has a low monthly service fee of $10, and only requires an initial deposit of $25 to open. Account holders get unlimited check writing, free bill pay, as well as free online banking.
Mobile banking and remote mobile deposit are also available. Axiom Bank currently has multiple locations throughout Central Florida, Western Florida, the Lakeland Region, and the Jacksonville region.
If only one bank is on your ChexSystems history, and the report doesn’t indicate bank fraud and has since been paid, Bank United may open an account with you. Currently, Bank United offers four accounts:
- Vertical Rewards Elite Checking
- Relationship Checking
- Value Checking
- Health Checking
Value Checking requires an initial deposit of $50 and a low monthly service fee of $7. Members get a free debit card, free online, mobile and text banking, as well as free bill pay. Bank United currently has multiple locations throughout Southeast and Southwest Florida.
Bank OZK offers a second chance account called Pathway Checking. If you have been turned away from other banks, Bank OZK can help you establish a positive checking history. It only requires an initial deposit of $50 to open an account, but thereafter does not require a minimum balance.
The monthly fee is $10 a month, but membership comes with a lot of perks. Members get unlimited check writing, online and mobile banking, as well as free bill pay. Bank OZK has many locations throughout much of Florida but is centered primarily across the state’s major cities.
Campus USA uses each applicant’s Equifax report instead of referring to his or ChexSystems’ file. Currently, Campus USA has 17 locations throughout Alachua, Columbia, Leon, Marion, and Sumter counties. Campus’s free checking doesn’t require a monthly service fee, nor does it have a minimum balance requirement. Account holders also get access to:
- Free mobile banking
- Free online banking
- Free remote mobile deposits
- Free bill pay
- Free debit card
- Free ATM access at Campus and Publix Presto ATMs
CenterState Bank uses ChexSystems but offers second chance checking to qualified applicants. Established to help members rebuild their checking history, Fresh Start Checking only costs $12.95 a month.
Members get a variety of perks that other fresh start accounts don’t always offer, including:
- 24/7 free telephone banking
- Free mobile banking
- Free online banking
- Free bill pay
- Unlimited check writing
CenterState Bank currently has locations throughout much of Florida, except the Panhandle.
Centennial Bank has a second chance account called Opportunity 100 Checking. Centennial Bank still uses ChexSystems, so Opportunity 100 can help you reestablish your checking history. It also comes with a variety of benefits, including:
- Free bill pay
- Free debit card
- Free eStatements
- Free online banking
This account doesn’t require a monthly balance, nor is there a monthly service fee. After 12 months has elapsed, members can upgrade their account to a standard account if they’ve kept their account in good standing. Centennial Bank has branch locations throughout Central Florida, Panhandle Florida, South Florida, and Southeast Florida.
CCUF has a second chance account called Fresh Start Checking. It doesn’t require an initial deposit, and account holders get a fully functional Visa debit card. CCUF has four locations in Pensacola and one location in Panama City.
Membership is available to anyone who lives, works, or attends school in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Washington, Bay, or Duval County. To begin membership, new members must purchase one $5.00 share from CCUF.
Community First CU uses ChexSystems but offers second chance checking accounts called Fresh Start Checking. This account is fully functional, meaning account holders are able to write checks, use a Visa debit card, and access their account either online or through the mobile app.
There’s a $10 surcharge fee, as well as a $25 initial deposit requirement. Before you can open an account, you must first open a share account with Community First. To become a member you’ll need to live, work, or attend school in Baker, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Nassau, Putnam, or St. Johns County.
Coral Community uses an applicant’s Chexsystems and Equifax credit report. It’s alright if you have negative entries listed on both as long as there is no report of bank fraud and any reporting bank has been paid in full. If all of these are true, you can get an account with Coral Community FCU.
Membership, however, is limited to select regions in Broward County. Members can do all of their banking needs both online and via the mobile app, and there aren’t any balance or direct deposit requirements, nor are there any monthly service fees.
CFE FCU uses Equifax Decision Power instead of ChexSystems or Telecheck. Membership is available to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers or studies in the following counties: Orange, Osceola, Seminole, or Lake County.
CFE offers a second chance account called Opportunity Checking. It’s designed to help members rebuild their financial history.
Account holders must take an online financial literacy course and are not able to write checks, make ATM deposits or remote mobile deposits, or access shared branches. Once their financial history has been repaired, account holders can upgrade to a standard checking account.
Country Financial CU uses your credit report in lieu of reviewing your ChexSystems file. You’ll first need to apply for membership before you can open an account. To do this, you need to live or work in Baker County, Nassau County, or Duval County.
A checking account with Country Financial CU doesn’t have any monthly fees and online and mobile banking are included. It only requires a $5 initial deposit, and overdraft protection is available after the account has been open for 90 days.
ECU has nine branches located in Niceville, Destin, Eglin, Fort Walton Beach, Hurlburt Field, Mary Esther, Navarre, and Crestview. Eglin CU doesn’t use ChexSystems but instead uses Telecheck.
If you’re accepted as a member after submitting an application (you must live, work, study or worship near one of the above locations), you’ll get the opportunity to open a basic checking account. This account requires an initial deposit of $25 and as well as a one-time fee of $5.00.
First American Bank is located in the Jacksonville area and offers a second chance account called Fresh Start Checking. It requires an initial deposit of $50 to open, but does not require a minimum balance.
Once you’ve kept your account in good standing for 12 months or more, meaning no overdrafts or non-sufficient funds, you may be eligible to open a standard checking account with FAB. Each account with FAB comes with mobile banking, online banking, and access to a large network of surcharge-free ATMs.
First Choice has locations in West Palm Beach and Palm Beach Gardens but is also a part of the Co-Op Shared Branch network, which has locations across the country. Members can go to any of them.
FCCU reviews all applicants prior to membership. Once a member, you’ll have your choice of several account options. Value Checking is perhaps the best, as it doesn’t require a minimum balance or charge any monthly service fees.
First Florida CU offers a second chance account called Smart Track Checking. Smart Track Checking offers members the chance to get a traditional bank account and repair their financial history.
This account has a $5 monthly service fee, but after 12 months of keeping the account in good standing, members may transition to a standard account with no monthly fees. All new members get a Visa debit card, free bill pay, and online banking tools. To open an account, you only need to provide a $25 initial deposit after submitting an application.
Florida CU does not use ChexSystems, but rather uses both a credit report and Telecheck when screening new applications. Florida CU offers two checking accounts: an interest-bearing account and a non-interest bearing account. The non-interest bearing account is completely free and doesn’t require a minimum balance.
For either account you choose, you get free overdraft protection, online and mobile access, and ATM rebates at non-FCU ATM locations. FCU currently has branches in DeLand, Lake City, Ocala, Starke, and Gainesville.
If you’ve had checking problems in your past, Gold Coast Federal offers a second chance account called Fresh Start. It does not require a minimum balance, and members are able to switch over to a standard account after a year of keeping their account in good standing.
Gold Coast currently has locations in West Palm Beach, Royal Palm Beach. Belle Glade, Port St. Lucie, Boynton Beach and CU Center, Inc. Additionally, Gold Coast FCU is partnered with Co-Op Shared Branch ATMs, which means you’ll get access to over 5.600 surcharge-free ATMs when you join.
Gulf Winds FCU has a second chance account called My Opportunity Checking. My Opportunity Checking has a monthly fee of $10.95 and requires an initial deposit of $25, which is also the minimum balance. Members get access to a free debit card, free online banking, and free overdraft protection transfer.
Currently, Gulf Winds has six branch locations in Pensacola, one in Crawfordville, and three in Tallahassee. To become a member, you’ll need first need to provide your personal information online, which only takes a few moments of your time.
JAX offers second chance checking for people with a credit score of 540 or higher. Applicants must first become Jax Federal members to be eligible.
All locations are located in the Jacksonville area, but JAX members get access to over 5,000 shared branching locations all over the country. Additionally, JAX members also get access to over 30,000 non-surcharge ATMs across the United States and Canada. Many of these machines can even be used to make deposits if needed.
JetStream offers second chance checking to qualified applicants. If you’ve been denied membership at other banks because of past financial history, their account can help you repair your checking history.
JetStream has locations throughout Florida in Miami, Doral, Hialeah, and Coconut Grove. Membership is available to anyone who lives, works, studies, or worships in the following locations:
- Miami Dade County
- Carolina, Trujillo Alto
- San Juan
- Puerto Rico
Membership is also available to anyone who is a relative or existing JetStream Federal member, as well as an employee of a Select Member Company.
Liberty Savings Bank offers second chance checking to qualified applicants. Called Clean Slate Checking, this account doesn’t require a minimum balance, and members are able to convert to a regular account after 12 months.
As long as the account does not have any overdrafts or NSFs, transitioning to one of Liberty Savings’ other checking accounts isn’t an issue. Liberty Savings has five locations throughout Florida in Sarasota, Venice, and Bradenton, and offers completely free online banking.
McCoy FCU offers second chance accounts to enable people to repair their financial history while also enjoying all of the perks that come with a standard checking account.
With McCoy, account holders get unlimited check writing, free direct deposit, free debit card, free bill pay, free eStatements, and online account access. McCoy has multiple locations throughout Orlando, and membership is available to anyone lives, works, studies, or worships in Orange, Osceola, Seminole or Lake counties.
Members First offers a second chance account to qualified applicants. All applicants must have resolved any ChexSystems issues 90 days prior to application, and past negative entries can only be related to non-sufficient funds activity. Applicants who have been reported to EWS will not be granted membership.
There’s a monthly fee of $12, but no minimum balance requirement. Each member gets the following benefits:
- Free check card
- Free debit card
- Free direct deposit
- Free coin counting
- Free notary service
- Free check images
- Free online, mobile, and phone banking
One Florida Bank has an account called Opportunity Checking. It requires a minimum of a $100 deposit to open, and from there is a $15 monthly fee.
This account enables members to repair their credit histories and prepare them for a standard checking account. After 12 months of keeping their accounts in good standing, members are able to transition to a One Florida Classic account.
One Florida is located in Chipley and is open during standard business hours. They have two locations opening soon in Orlando and one in Apopka.
OneUnited Bank offers an account called U2 Checking. It’s designed for people with either a negative entry on their ChexSystems file or have a poor credit report. A $100 minimum deposit is required to open, and the first monthly fee is waived.
With OneUnited, members have access to free online banking, free mobile banking, surcharge-free ATMs across the country, and the ability to deposit checks through the mobile app.
If your account remains in good standing for at least 12 months, you may be eligible to transition to a standard account.
People’s Alliance Federal does not use ChexSystems nor EWS during their screening process; instead, they utilize Telecheck. If you were previously denied or turned away from other banks during the application process, there is a good chance People’s Alliance would be a suitable option for successfully opening an account.
People’s Alliance has multiple account options that include various benefits and perks to suit your neds. All accounts include online access, easy bill pay, unlimited debit card use, and fee-free ATM access at participating locations.
Republic Bank offers an account called Checking Builder. It doesn’t require a minimum balance and only requires a $50 deposit to open. Monthly fees are $12.95 a month, but this amount can be reduced to $7.95 if the account holder signs up for direct deposit or has 20 debit transactions a month.
Each account holder with a Checking Builder account gets the follow benefits:
- Free unlimited debit card use
- Free unlimited check writing
- Free bill pay
- Free online banking
- Free ATM transactions at participating ATM locations
SACFCU offers second chance checking to new applicants. To become a member, applicants must live, work, study or worship in Eastern Pasco or Easter Hernando County. Visit one of the four branches and open up a savings account with as little as $5 to make the membership official.
After a year of keeping the second chance account in good standing, members are able to transfer over to a standard account.
South Florida Federal offers second chance checking to those in need. This account is available to applicants who have been denied membership at other banks because of negative ChexSystems records.
Called Another Chance Checking, the account doesn’t have any monthly fees, nor does it have any minimum balance requirements. Members get a free debit card with their account and can visit numerous ATMs throughout the Miami area. If you’re interested, you can fill out an application online.
Synovus Bank uses your Equifax credit report and your credit score when considering your application. All applicants must have a credit score of at least 500 to be considered. If accepted, you’ll get your choice of either Free Checking, Preferred Account, and Gold Checking (if you’re in the military, there’s also the Military Interest Checking option).
Free Checking only requires a $100 deposit to open an account, and there’s no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements. Synovus currently has locations in Wesley Chapel, Trinity, Port Richey, Oldsmar, Tampa, and Palm Harbor, Florida.
If you’ve only had issues with a ChexSystems bank, UCU might be a good fit for you. As long as your credit report is average and you don’t have any negative entries with Telecheck, University CU may open an account with you.
Membership is available to anyone associated with the University of Miami, Florida International University, St. Thomas University, the Legal Community, and the Miami-Dade Community. There are no service fees or minimum balance requirements, and each member gets free access to mobile and online banking, as well as access to thousands of surcharge-free ATMs.
Union State Bank, unlike its peers, uses neither ChexSystems or EWS. This is very fortunate because most people turned away from banks are done because of negative entries they have with ChexSystems or EWS. Union State’s most popular account is Freedom Checking.
Freedom Checking only requires a $50 initial deposit to open, and comes with the following features:
- Free debit card
- $0 service fee
- Unlimited check writing
- Free online bill pay
Union State currently has a branch location in Destin with plans to further expand in the future.
United Bank offers its members a unique account called Gateway Checking. Applicants with low credit or negative entries on their Chexsystems file are encouraged to apply. The monthly service fee is only $10 a month, and has a variety of features users can add for a small fee.
Online bill pay is available for only $4.95 a month, and remote mobile deposit only costs $2 per deposit. After 6 months of keeping their account in good standing, members can apply for a standard bank account with United Bank.
Vystar doesn’t use ChexSystems, but uses Telecheck instead. Telecheck doesn’t communicate or exchange any of its data with ChexSystems, so many applicants that are turned away from other banks are able to set up an account with a Telecheck-based bank. Vystar is located primarily in the Jacksonville area.
To join, you have to live, study, work or worship in a nearby county. Participating counties include Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Brevard, Clay, Columbia, Duval, Flagler, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Lake, Levy, Marion, Nassau, Orange, Putnam, St. Johns, Seminole, Sumter, Suwannee, Union, and Volusia. A standard account with Vystar is 100% free and comes with access to online, mobile, and text banking.
Woodforest National Bank has an account for people with a bad credit report or negative entries with ChexSystems. Woodforest is a national bank and has multiple locations throughout Florida and many other states. Only $25 is needed to open an account, and from there the monthly service fee is $9.95 with direct deposit (without it it’s $11.95). There is also a one time account set up fee of $9.00.
Their Second Chance Checking comes with everything you need from a modern-day bank, including online and mobile banking, overdraft protection, and remote deposit. Once your account has been in good standing for 12 months, Woodforest allows its members to apply for a standard account.