How to Get Approved for a Bank Account with Bad Credit

Banking

Opening a bank account can be a challenging process, especially if you have a negative banking history. However, it’s important to understand that most banks don’t check your credit score for opening a bank account as they do for credit cards and loans.

In most cases, having bad credit doesn’t matter when it comes to opening a bank account. Instead of checking your credit history, banks and credit unions utilize a system known as ChexSystems to access your banking history. So, even if you have bad credit, you can still open a bank account.

woman using smartphone

What is ChexSystems, and how does it differ from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion?

If you were turned down for a checking or savings account, it’s highly unlikely that a poor credit score was the reason behind the denial. It’s more likely that your name appeared in ChexSystems.

When it comes to managing your finances and credit history, you’re likely familiar with the big three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. These companies gather information about your credit history, payment history, and other financial information to compile your credit report. However, there’s another player in the game that you might not have heard of: ChexSystems.

ChexSystems is a consumer reporting agency that specializes in collecting and reporting information related to checking and savings accounts. In contrast to credit bureaus such as Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, which concentrate on credit histories and loan management, ChexSystems zeroes in on your banking behavior. This involves tracking your record of overdrafts, bounced checks, and any other negative banking activities.

How can I find out if I’m in ChexSystems?

If you’re wondering whether you’re in ChexSystems, the good news is that it’s easy to find out. ChexSystems is required by law to provide you with a free copy of your report once every 12 months, just like the three major credit bureaus. Here are a few steps you can take to get your report:

  • Request your report online: The easiest way to get your ChexSystems report is to visit their website and request it online. You’ll need to provide some personal information, like your name, address, and Social Security number, as well as some information about your banking history. Once you’ve submitted your request, you should receive a copy of your report in the mail within a few days.
  • Request your report by phone: If you prefer to request your report by phone, you can call ChexSystems at 1-800-428-9623. You’ll need to provide the same personal and banking information as you would online, and your report will be mailed to you.
  • Request your report by mail: If you prefer to request your report by mail, you’ll need to download and fill out a request form from the ChexSystems website. You’ll need to provide the same information as you would online or by phone, and mail the completed form to the address listed on the website. Your report will be mailed to you once your request is processed.

Once you’ve received your ChexSystems report, review it carefully for any errors or inaccuracies. If you find any mistakes, you can dispute them with ChexSystems and request that they be corrected.

What should I do if I’m in ChexSystems?

If you’ve discovered that you’re in ChexSystems, you have several options.

  1. Review your report: Once you’ve received your ChexSystems report, take the time to review it thoroughly for any errors or inaccuracies. If you spot any mistakes, dispute them with ChexSystems and request that they be corrected. This can help improve your overall banking history and increase the likelihood of opening new accounts in the future.
  2. Pay off any outstanding balances: Take steps to pay off any outstanding balances or negative items on your ChexSystems report. This may involve paying overdraft fees, settling disputes with your bank, or negotiating a payment plan with a collection agency.
  3. Open a second chance account: Consider opening a second checking chance account if you have been denied a bank account due to your ChexSystems history. These accounts are designed for people with a history of banking problems and typically have fewer fees and less strict requirements than traditional accounts.
  4. Choose a bank that doesn’t use ChexSystems: While more than 80% of banks and credit unions use ChexSystems, there are some excellent banks that do not. The banks that offer these accounts don’t conduct a credit check or look at your ChexSystems report.
  5. Get a prepaid debit card: Another alternative to a traditional bank account is a prepaid debit card. You can load money onto the card and use it like a regular debit card to make purchases or withdraw cash from an ATM.

What are the best banks that don’t use ChexSystems?

We’ve compiled an extensive list of banks that don’t use ChexSystems. You might be surprised to know that, unlike some second chance bank accounts, these bank accounts come with all the same features and benefits as a regular bank account.

Here are the top 3 checking accounts that don’t use ChexSystems:

Chime

Features & Benefits

  • Over 14.5 million downloads
  • No credit check or ChexSystems
  • No minimum opening deposit
  • Over 60,000 fee-free1 ATMs

With Chime®, bad banking history is not an issue. They offer an award-winning financial app, a debit card, and a credit builder Visa® credit card, all with no credit check.

The Chime Checking Account has no monthly fees:

  • no monthly maintenance fees
  • no foreign transaction fees
  • no minimum balance fees

You can also start building your credit7 with the Secured Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card. It’s a secured credit card with no annual fees, no credit checks, and no interest charges1.

Chime has over 60,0001 fee-free MoneyPass® and Visa® Plus Alliance ATMs. Plus, you can get your paycheck up to 2 days earlier with direct deposit2. You can also deposit cash for free at over 8,500 Walgreens.

Chase

Our Top Pick

Features & Benefits

  • $100 bonus after 10 purchases
  • No credit check or ChexSystems
  • Over 16,000+ fee-free ATMs
  • Over 4,700 branches nationwide
  • $4.95 monthly service fee

Chase offers a checking account called Chase Secure Banking. The account comes with a Chase debit card that gets you access to over 16,000 fee-free ATMs.

Some features of this checking account include free online bill pay, free money orders and cashier’s checks, no overdraft fees, and no minimum opening deposit. However, there is also a monthly service fee of $4.95.

When you open a Chase Secure Banking account and make 10 qualifying purchases within 60 days, you’ll get a $100 cash bonus.

Account approval is immediate, and the debit card typically arrives within days.

U.S. Bank

Our Second Pick
  • $600 sign-up bonus
  • Minimum opening deposit of $25
  • Monthly service fee: $0 or $6.95
  • Over 40,000 surcharge-free MoneyPass ATMs

U.S. Bank is now offering the Bank Smartly™ Checking account, which is currently available in 26 states across the United States.

If you live in one of the following 26 states where this account is available, you can apply online: AR, AZ, CA, CO, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, MN, MO, MT, NC, ND, NE, NM, NV, OH, OR, SD, TN, UT, WA, WI, WY.

You can earn up to $600 when you open a new Bank Smartly™ Checking account, and complete qualifying activities. This offer is valid through April 11, 2023.

The Smartly™ Checking account comes with a free debit card and the option to lock or unlock the card if it’s ever lost or stolen.

Plus, you’ll never have to worry about ATM transaction fees at U.S. Bank ATMs or surcharge fees at over 40,000 MoneyPass Network ATMs.

U.S. Bank uses ChexSystems, but it has a history of being more lenient with records than most banks.

As long as you don’t have a history of fraud, or you don’t owe any money to U.S. Bank, you may be able to open a checking account with them.

The minimum opening deposit for this account is just $25, and the monthly service fee is $6.95. However, you can avoid the monthly fee by maintaining a minimum balance of $1,500 or by having a minimum monthly Direct Deposit of $1,000.

What are the benefits of opening a bank account?

Opening a bank account provides various advantages, even if you have a negative banking or bad credit score. These benefits include:

  • Secure place to store your money: Keeping your money in a bank account protects your funds from theft or loss.
  • Convenience: Accessing your money via a debit card or online banking is more convenient than carrying cash.
  • Easy bill pay: With a bank account, you can easily set up automatic bill payments and never miss a payment.
  • Interest on savings: Some bank accounts offer interest on your savings, which can lead to increased growth of your funds over time.
  • Direct deposit: By setting up direct deposit for your paychecks, you can save time and get faster access to your funds.

What documents do I need to open a bank account?

Opening a bank account requires specific documentation that varies based on the bank and account type. Typically, you will need to provide the following:

  • Government-issued ID: Such as a driver’s license, passport, or state ID.
  • Proof of address: This may include a utility bill, lease agreement, or other document that confirms your current address.
  • Social Security number: You’ll be asked to provide your social security number for tax purposes.
  • Initial deposit: Some financial institutions may require an initial deposit to open an account. The amount can differ, so it’s best to check with your bank.
  • Additional documentation: Depending on your circumstances, you may need to provide additional documentation like proof of income or citizenship.

How can I improve my banking history?

If you have a negative banking history, there are steps you can take to improve it:

  1. Settle your debts: If you have any negative items on your ChexSystems report, work to pay them off as soon as possible. This can make it easier to open new accounts in the future.
  2. Manage your checking account responsibly: It’s essential to open a new checking account and manage it responsibly. This involves making regular deposits, avoiding overdrafts, and paying your bills on time.
  3. Monitor your banking activity: Keep track of your banking activity and check your ChexSystems report regularly for errors or inaccuracies. Dispute any mistakes and work with your bank to resolve any issues.
  4. Seek professional help: If you’re struggling with managing your finances or have a lot of debt, consider seeking professional help from a financial advisor or credit counseling service. They can help you develop a plan to improve your financial situation.

How can I improve my credit score?

While most banks and credit unions typically don’t take your credit score into account when opening a bank account, there are a few that do consider it. However, your credit score holds immense importance for several other reasons. Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure that it’s in good standing.

To improve your credit score, you’ll need to put in some time and effort, but it’s certainly achievable. There are several ways to boost your credit score, including paying bills on time, which is essential to avoid negatively impacting your credit score.

Paying down debt is another effective strategy to improve your credit score since high levels of debt can negatively affect it. Additionally, checking your credit report frequently for errors or inaccuracies is crucial, and if you notice any mistakes, make sure to dispute them immediately.

Keeping your credit card balances low is also an effective way to help raise your credit score. High credit card balances can hurt your credit score, so it’s crucial to keep them as low as possible.

Finally, using credit responsibly is crucial. You should use credit wisely and avoid applying for too many credit cards or loans simultaneously.

How do I choose the best bank account?

To choose the best bank account, you’ll need to evaluate your individual financial needs since different accounts cater to different needs. Some factors to consider when making your choice include the following:

  • Fees: Finding a bank account with low or no fees is vital, so keep an eye out for accounts with no monthly service fees or ATM fees.
  • Accessibility: Depending on your preferences, it’s crucial to choose a bank with convenient locations or online banking options, making it easy for you to access your account.
  • Interest rates: If you plan to save money in your bank account, it’s essential to select an account with high-interest rates. This way, you can earn more interest on your savings.
  • Features: Some bank accounts offer additional features such as cashback rewards or budgeting tools, which can be beneficial to you. Take your time to research the available options and choose an account with features that match your needs.
  • Reputation: It’s important to consider the bank’s reputation for customer service and reliability before choosing an account. This way, you can be sure that you’re dealing with a bank that has a good track record in serving its customers.

Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services and debit card provided by The Bancorp Bank N.A. or Stride Bank, N.A.; Members FDIC. Credit Builder card issued by Stride Bank, N.A.

1. Out-of-network ATM withdrawal fees may apply with Chime except at MoneyPass ATMs in a 7-Eleven, or any Allpoint or Visa Plus Alliance ATM.

2. Early access to direct deposit funds depends on the timing of the submission of the payment file from the payer. Chime generally make these funds available on the day the payment file is received, which may be up to 2 days earlier than the scheduled payment date.

7. To apply for Credit Builder, you must have received a single qualifying direct deposit of $200 or more to your Checking Account. The qualifying direct deposit must be from your employer, payroll provider, gig economy payer, or benefits payer by Automated Clearing House (ACH) deposit OR Original Credit Transaction (OCT). Bank ACH transfers, Pay Anyone transfers, verification or trial deposits from financial institutions, peer to peer transfers from services such as PayPal, Cash App, or Venmo, mobile check deposits, cash loads or deposits, one-time direct deposits, such as tax refunds and other similar transactions, and any deposit to which Chime deems to not be a qualifying direct deposit are not qualifying direct deposits.