Georgia’s unbanked population is quite above the national average, coming in at 10.9% rather than just 7% nationwide. On top of people who don’t use a bank at all, an additional 26.9% of Georgia residents are considered underbanked, meaning they often go outside of traditional lenders to get cash or credit.
While some people may choose not to use a bank, others simply cannot qualify for a bank account. Oftentimes, this is due to a previous negative relationship with a financial institution. Things like unpaid fees or too many incidents of non-sufficient funds can hurt your ChexSystems record for five years.
What can you do in the meantime to help manage your finances? There are plenty of banks and credit unions throughout the state of Georgia that offer checking accounts that either don’t use ChexSystems or are designed to give you a second chance. Here’s the comprehensive list.
BBVA Compass ClearConnect Free Checking
BBVA uses Early Warning Services (EWS) instead of ChexSystems to screen new applications. There are zero fees, and it’s both online and mobile-friendly, meaning members can access their accounts either over their computer or smartphone. BBVA has its own ATMs throughout the country but is also a part of the AllPoint ATM network, which has over 55,000 ATMs nationwide.
Open an account and have at least one direct deposit in the amount of $500 or more and you could be eligible for a $200 sign-up bonus. Furthermore, if you open up a savings account and deposit at least $100 into it and you could receive a bonus of $50.
Associated Credit Union
Associated Credit Union uses Equifax credit reports to screen new applications. They have multiple locations throughout all of Georgia, but have a particularly strong presence in Atlanta.
Currently, they offer two types of checking accounts: Associated Checking and Simple Checking.
Both require an initial deposit of $25 to open, but for $4.95 a month, Associated Checking comes with a variety of benefits, including credit monitoring, ID Protection, and Cell phone protection. Enjoy all the benefits of modern banking without the hassle ChexSystems, including ATM access, online banking, and even monthly compounding interest on balances over $2,500.
Community Bank & Trust
With $100, people who need to work on their checking history can open up a second chance checking account called Second Slice Checking at Community Bank & Trust. It comes with unlimited checking writing, mobile banking, a debit card, and free E-statements.
Currently, Community has four locations throughout Georgia, with two locations in LaGrange, one in Columbus, and one in Hogansville. Should account holders be able to keep their Second Slice Checking account in good standing, they may be able to transition to a conventional banking account.
DOCO Credit Union
DOCO Credit Union offers a second chance called Fresh Start Checking. To join, you must either work for a company that is a part of the DOCO member group, be related to someone who is already a member, or live in certain counties throughout Georgia.
Doco has nine locations throughout Albany, Leesburg, Tifton, Thomasville, Pelham, Moultrie, and Americus. DOCO is a part of the CU HERE ATM network, which has thousands of surcharge-free ATMs across the nation.
Excel Federal Credit Union
Excel FCU offers a second chance banking account called Fresh Start Checking. Designed for people who need to strengthen their credit history, it acts as a stepping stone to a traditional checking account. There are monthly fees associated with this account, but members who keep their account in good standing may be eligible to transition to one of Excel’s more traditional checking accounts after a time.
To become a member of Excel, you must be related to someone who already has an account, or work with a company that is a part of the Excel network. Excel currently has three locations throughout the Atlanta area.
FSB has locations in Wrens, Louisville, Americus, and Warrenton. It offers mobile banking, where you see and manage your bills, make deposits, transfer funds, and check your balances over your smartphone. They also offer OnCall banking, which allows account holders to manage all of their accounts over the phone.
Firstate currently has three checking accounts: Community Plus, Community Commercial Checking, and Community Commercial Interest Checking. Community Plus is the more commonly used account of Firstate, and requires an initial deposit of $100 to open, and has a monthly service of $5.00.
Fort McPherson Credit Union
Fort McPherson CU does not use ChexSystems or Telecheck to screen new applications. Instead, they use the applicant’s credit report. No specific score is needed, but they do look at negative entries to approve or decline membership.
FMCU offers a share draft checking account to their members. There is a monthly service fee of $10, but this fee is removed if the account has at least $250 in it. It comes with a free debit card, online and mobile access, free direct deposit, and free overdraft protection from a savings account.
Georgia United Credit Union
Georgia United Credit Union offers a second chance checking account called Restart Checking. For users who need to repair their financial history, Restart Checking only requires an initial deposit of $25 to open and has a low monthly fee of $12. Each account holder receives 1.00% APY on balances up to $15,000 and can receive up to $10 in refunds on ATM fees.
At the moment, Georgia United CU is concentrated in central and northern Georgia and has 19 branch locations throughout the state. If you frequent ATMs, it currently has 19 ATMs, as well as over 30 surcharge-free ATMs focused in the Conyers and Covington regions.
Georgia’s Own Credit Union
Georgia’s Own Credit Union offers what it calls “Resolution Checking” for account holders who may have had previous banking problems in the past. To open a Resolution Checking account, applicants must speak with a Georgia’s Own representative. Georgia’s Own currently has branches in Savannah, Augusta, plus 22 branch locations in the Atlanta area. Account holders southeast of Atlanta can also visit 30 co-op shared branches. Of course, Georgia’s Own is completely online and mobile-friendly and is a part of a network of surcharge-free ATMs throughout the state.
Heritage Bank does not use ChexSystems, Telecheck, or EWS to screen new applicants. To open an account with them, new applicants must instead apply in person and be able to present a government-issued ID. It has 15 locations throughout Georgian, including even one in Jacksonville, Florida.
They offer four checking account options but consider Connect Checking Account free monthly checking. It only requires a one time deposit of $50 to open, and comes with unlimited free transactions. Furthermore, once the account is open, it does not require a minimum balance to stay free.
Members United Credit Union
Members United offers a second chance checking account called Another Chance Checking. To find out more about it, applicants must contact Members United directly. To join this credit union, applicants must either live in Dougherty, Muscogee, or Lee County, or work for a company affiliated with Members United.
Other options include military service (past or present), or being a member of Street Blazers Motorcycle Club or American Cancer Society Hope Club. Members United has four locations in Albany, one in Leesburg, and one in Columbus. All members get access to both mobile and online banking and can enroll in the BillPayer service at no additional charge.
North Georgia Credit Union
North Georgia Credit Union uses Equifax credit reports to screen all new applications for checking accounts. However, if the applicant simply wants to open a savings account, nothing is screened or analyzed. NGCU has locations in Toccoa, Hartwell, and Lavonia, and an application can be completed entirely online. A deposit of $25 into a savings account is required, and there is a one time fee of $5. The $25 in savings must stay there for membership to continue.
A checking account is entirely free and does not require a minimum balance. Automatic bill pay, as well as online and mobile banking, are also free.
Peach State Federal Credit Union
Peach State Federal Credit Union offers a second chance checking account to people with a poor ChexSystems report. Called Fresh Start Checking, it allows account holders to rebuild their ChexSystems credit profile while also enjoying all of the benefits of modern checking. Additionally, if the account holder is able to maintain a positive status with their account for at least a year, he or she may be able to transfer over to a standard checking account.
There is a monthly fee of $9.00 associated with Fresh Start Checking, but once account holders transfer over to the basic plan there are no monthly fees. Currently, there are 19 branch locations throughout Georgia.
Applicants who have negative entries with ChexSystems, Telecheck, or EWS are still eligible to become a member with Renasant Bank provided they don’t owe any money to Renasant. A basic account comes with online banking, free bill pay, mobile banking, and a debit card. Additionally, all Renasant clients get free identity theft protection. Whenever anything suspicious occurs with your account, Renasant automatically calls, texts, and emails you to alert you to the activity.
Renasant has many locations throughout Georgia, but anyone interested in joining can apply entirely online. Renasant has received solid reviews for its customer service and is recognized across the board as a safe and dependable bank.
Robins Federal Credit Union
Robins Federal Credit Union offers a second chance checking account to anyone looking to repair their checking account history. It requires an initial deposit to open an account and has a monthly service fee of $10.
After only 12 months of maintaining a positive account, members who have not overdrawn and who have been able to pay the monthly fees are able to open up a free checking account. This account comes with unlimited check writing, a free debit card, as well as free online and mobile banking. Robins Federal currently has multiple locations throughout and around Warner Robins.
Rochelle State Bank
Rochelle State Bank only requires a government-issued ID from anyone interested in opening an account. To open up a standard checking account, Rochelle State requires an initial deposit of $100.
There aren’t any monthly service fees if you are able to keep at least $500 in your account every day of the month. If it falls below $500, however, there is a $5.00 fee. Moreover, there is also a $0.10 fee for any debit card transactions when the account balance is below $500. At the moment Rochelle State Bank only has one branch location in Rochelle, Georgia.
In lieu of ChexSystems, Synovus uses applicants’ credit reports instead analyzing their ChexSystems file. A relatively small bank, Synovus has locations in Perry, Byron, and Warner Robins.
It has four checking account options, but its free option comes with every modern banking feature that most people are looking for. Features include free online and mobile banking, and they allow users to use automatic bill pay for free. The free checking account does require an initial deposit of $100 to open, but after that, there aren’t any monthly service fees.
Woodforest National Bank
Woodforest National Bank offers people with a rocky financial past a second chance checking account. It only requires an initial deposit of $25.00 to open, as well as a one-time set-up fee of $9.00. There is a low monthly service fee of $11.95 unless you sign up for direct deposit. With direct deposit, it drops down to $9.95.
Woodforest has eight branch locations throughout Georgia, but is a national bank and can be found all across the U.S. Each checking account offered by Woodforest comes with free online and mobile banking, as well as free access to thousands of ATMs.