Signing up for a standard checking account can offer a host of benefits to New York residents. You can use a debit card for online purchases and even potentially avoid predatory financial services looking to take advantage of unbanked populations.
But with a growing population throughout the state using cash instead of checking, it may be time to revisit the prospect of working with a bank or credit union.
There are many banks in New York that don’t use ChexSystems as a reference during the application process, so you can avoid being denied due to previous banking fractions. It can often be difficult to get back into the banking system if you have negative records in ChexSystems.
Another option is to select a second chance checking account. These frequently come with a low monthly fee and let you rebuild your checking history and later upgrade to a better account.
You can avoid a monthly service charge by getting a free checking account from BBVA. They don’t use ChexSystems and are based online, giving you easy-to-use tools right at your fingertips. You just need $25 to get started with your opening deposit and get access to free online and mobile banking.
You can avoid the $3 paper statement fee by choosing e-statements instead. Additionally, you can get free ATM access at BBVA and Allpoint ATMs, totaling 64,000 locations across the U.S. They even have a cash back rewards program for account holders.
Consider opening a mobile checking account with Chime, which combines top-of-the-line features with no fees.
Along with $0 opening deposit and account balance minimums, they also have an innovative suite of tech-minded banking controls, like mobile check deposit and a built-in option to send money to family and friends via Venmo.
They offer security features like instant transaction notifications and the option to disable your debit card at the swipe of a finger. They also have an automatic savings program that makes it painless to grow your emergency (or vacation) fund.
Plus, if you’re paid via direct deposit, you’ll have access to your funds up to two days earlier than you would at many competing banks, and you’ll be able to get your hands on it fee-free at any of Chime’s more than 38,000 in-network ATMs.
In order to qualify for checking at ACCESS Federal, you need to live, work, worship, or go to school anywhere in Oneida County or the City of Oneida.
There are three checking options available at ACCESS FCU. The free option is called Regular Checking. In addition to no monthly fee, there’s also no minimum opening deposit. You get the usual perks like online and mobile bank, plus free access to bank-to-bank transfers and PopMoney.
Affinity FCU won’t access ChexSystems or a credit report; instead, they look at their own specific membership requirements. To be eligible, you must be associated with one of 2,000 businesses in the Affinity network or one of the qualifying clubs or associations. They’re based out of New Jersey, but have several branch locations throughout New York state.
Consider Affinity Checking when you’re just getting back into the banking system. There’s no minimum deposit or balance that must be maintained. Like all other accounts, you just need a $5 balance in your Affinity FCU share account.
Alternatives FCU offers Fresh Start Checking, a free account that helps you rebuild your financial history. You get unlimited check writing and after three months of positive activity, you can get a Visa debit card. There’s no minimum balance or minimum deposit required.
They’re based in Ithaca, with a branch as well as multiple ATMs located throughout that city, as well as Dryden and Trumansburg.
Bank of Richmondville has its own personalized approach to taking applications, rather than using ChexSystems. Headquartered in Richmondville, the bank also has locations in Cobleskill and Schoharie.
Personal Basic Checking is a low-cost option with basic services available. The opening deposit requirement is just $25 and the monthly fee is a mere $3. Plus, there’s no balance requirement each month moving forward. If you combine it with a Cash Reserve account, you can sign up for overdraft protection.
Bank OZK offers Pathway Checking, designed to get people banked if you’ve been turned down by other financial institutions. You do need $50 to open the account, but there isn’t a minimum balance you’re required to maintain month after month.
Pathway Checking comes with a $10 monthly fee, which gives you access to benefits like unlimited check writing, a Visa debit card, and online/mobile banking.
There’s one branch location in the state of New York, which is at Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan. With a strong online presence, however, you could easily live elsewhere in the state and still take full advantage of Bank OZK’s services.
Bank United has eight locations in the New York City area. It’s a ChexSystems bank, but it’s more lenient with negative reports than other banks. As long as there’s no issue with bank fraud, and all accounts have been settled and paid, Bank United will likely open an account with you.
Each account with Bank United comes with a free debit card, free mobile and online banking, and free direct deposit. Currently, Bank United offers four options for you to choose from including Vertical Rewards Elite Checking, Relationship Checking, Value Checking, and a Health Savings Account. Value Checking has a low monthly service fee of $7 and requires an initial deposit of only $50.
Brooklyn Cooperative has two branch locations in Brooklyn and opens membership to anyone who lives, works, volunteers, worships, or attends school in designated Brooklyn and Queen districts.
The following Brooklyn localities are accepted: Bedford Stuyvesant, Bushwick, East New York, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights, Weeksville, Wingate, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Ocean Hill, and Brownsville. Maspeth, Middle Village, Glendale, and Ridgewood of Queens are also accepted.
To join, you must open up a savings account and deposit $25. $5 of that $25 is a one time fee, but the rest is directly deposited into the savings account. There are no monthly fees.
However, if your account falls below $1,200, there is a monthly fee of $6. All accounts come with free online bill pay, unlimited debit transactions, and four free ATM withdrawals a month.
Compass requires new applicants to provide proper identification prior to membership. This is done to help guarantee that the applicant lives works, volunteers, worships or attends school in Oswego County. An initial deposit of $5 is also required to open a savings account. Currently, they have seven locations throughout Oswego County.
There are no minimum balance requirements or monthly fees. New account holders also get their first box of checks for free. Compass CU offers a variety of checking and savings accounts to meet each member’s individual needs.
Located at 75 South First Street in Fulton, NY, Fulton Savings offers second chance checking for applicants who have had banking troubles in the past. The second chance bank accounts come with a variety of perks. Members enjoy:
- Unlimited check writing
- Direct deposit
- Free debit card
- Free phone banking
- Free mobile banking
- Free online banking
The monthly service fee is only $9.95 a month, but if you sign up for direct deposit it’s only $7.95 a month.
Genesee Valley FCU offers Fresh Start Checking for applicants who have had banking troubles in the past. At the member’s request, he or she can upgrade to a standard account after only six months.
The account must be kept in good standing for the entire six months, meaning no overdrafts or records of non-sufficient funds. It doesn’t require a monthly minimum balance, but it does have a low monthly service fee.
Genesee has locations in Geneseo, Dansville, and Warsaw. Applicants must make an initial deposit of $5 into a savings account, and be able to provide a social security number, phone number, and a valid New York State license or passport.
To open an account with Maple City Savings Bank, applicants must be able to provide a valid New York State license or current, up-to-date passport. Maple City currently has two locations in Hornell.
Maple City offers three checking options for members: Kasasa Cash, Kasasa Cash Back, and Health Savings Accounts. Kasasa Cash is a free, high interest savings account (3% APY on balances up to $10,000).
Account holders get the following perks for free:
- Free online banking
- Free bill pay
- Free MasterCard debit card
- Free eStatements
- $20 a month ATM fee refunds
To open a Kasasa Cash account, new applicants must make an initial deposit of $25.
Meridia Community uses credit reports in lieu of ChexSystems, Telecheck, and EWS when screening new applications. As long as your credit report doesn’t have too many negative entries on it, you may be eligible to open a new account with Meridia. Currently, there are two locations in Hamburg and one in Eden.
Meridia doesn’t charge any fees, plus offers overdraft protection, free online and mobile banking, free unlimited check writing, and free ATM access that are at the Meridia branch or CU24 ATM network. They don’t require a minimum deposit to open an account or require a minimum balance.
Mohawk requires all new applicants to provide a proper form of ID to open an account. Membership is available to anyone who lives in Schenectady, is employed by the National Grid, New York Independent System Operators, or one of the Small Employee Groups.
After you fill out a membership application and deposit $5 into a savings account, membership begins. Mohawk currently only has one location in Schenectady.
Mohawk offers a variety of savings and checking accounts. Their share draft account comes with a variety of benefits.
Some of the perks include:
- First 50 checks free
- Overdraft protection
- Free Visa debit card
- Free direct deposit
To become a member of Neighborhood Trust, applicants must complete a membership application form, provide a valid government-issued ID and a proof address. Neighborhood Trust currently only has one location on 1112 St. Nicholas Avenue in New York City.
Neighborhood Trust FCU offers unlimited check writing and overdraft protection. The minimum balance required is $500. There is a $6.50 fee if your checking and savings account falls below $550. To open an account, you must make a minimum deposit of $25.
People’s Alliance FCU allows new applicants to join if they meet certain eligibility requirements. Most residents of New York City live within the geographical parameters.
Individuals who work with select employers within the People’s Alliance network are also eligible. They have locations in Jamaica, Brooklyn, Westbury, Ronkonkoma, Yonkers, Hauppauge, and JFK Airport.
People’s Alliance offers four options for checking: PAFCU Standard Checking, Golden Checking, Business Checking, and Checking Plus.
Standard Checking doesn’t require a minimum balance nor does it charge a monthly service fee. No matter which account you choose, each account comes with a set of starter checks, direct deposit, and overdraft protection.
Port Washington FCU is located on Main Street in Port Washington. Membership is available to anyone who lives, works, or worships in Port Washington, Manhasset, Roslyn, Sands Point, Kings Point, or Great Neck. Anyone who is employed by North Hempstead is also eligible to join.
Checking with Port Washington has a number of benefits. Some of the perks include automatic payroll deduction, direct deposit, and if you get a savings account, your balance will earn high-interest dividends.
Rochester and Monroe County Employees doesn’t use ChexSystems, but instead refers to each applicant’s Experian credit report. As long as you don’t have too many dings on your credit report, you may be eligible to open a checking or savings account with Rochester and Monroe.
Membership is available to all employees of the City of Rochester and the County of Monroe (as well as some other smaller towns and villages in surrounding areas).
They have three locations in Rochester. They offer payroll deduction, direct deposit, ATM/ debit cards, and online banking to all of its members.
RT Federal uses credit reports when evaluating applications for new members. As long as the credit report is average and doesn’t have too many negative entries on it, RT will likely accept the application. Membership is also contingent upon whether the applicant is a student employee or retiree from select school and libraries within New York.
An account with RT Federal CU comes with online banking, direct deposit, a free Visa debit card, and an easier application process for select personal loans.
Sidney Federal offers membership to applicants who live, work, or attend school in Oneonta, Sidney, and surrounding areas. Sidney Federal has nine branch locations in Sidney, Bainbridge, Delhi, Greene, Hancock, Norwich, Oneonta, and Walton. Additionally, each member can access his or her account through numerous shared service centers.
Checking with SFCU comes with 24/7 ATM access and free online and mobile banking. There is no minimum balance requirement, and you don’t have to worry about any monthly service charges. If you sign up for direct deposit, you get a box of free checks, plus each account comes with free overdraft protection.
Ticonderoga has branch locations in Ticonderoga, Port Henry, and Elizabethtown, NY, and membership is available to anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in Essex, Washington, Warren, Clinton, and Franklin Counties. A checking account with TFCU comes with a variety of free benefits. These include:
- Free mobile banking
- Free remote mobile deposit
- Free direct deposit
- Overdraft protection
- Free online banking
- Free bill pay
- Free debit card
TFCU currently offers four checking options: Freedom Checking, Freedom Student Checking, Advantage Checking, and Prestige 50 Checking. Freedom Checking comes with one free box of checks and doesn’t require a minimum balance or monthly fee.
UFirst FCU is available to anyone who lives works, worships, or attends school in Clinton County. To apply, applicants need to provide a social security number, a license or government issued ID, proof of address and a telephone number. UFirst currently has four branch locations in Plattsburgh and Rouses Point.
UFirst has two savings account options and two checking account options for new members: Share Savings Account, Share Draft Checking, Lucky Savers, and Youth and Student Checking.
Share Draft Checking comes with a free Visa debit card, 10 debit card uses a day, 50 free checks, and a $500 a day ATM cash withdrawal limit.
US Alliance Financial requires applicants provide a form of government issued ID, as well as their social security card. They have multiple locations throughout New York City and nearby areas. At the moment, the other branches are located in White Plains, Purchase, Port Chester, Bronx, New York, Wayne, Hopewell Junction, and Wallkill. They also have two locations in West Haven, Connecticut.
A checking account with US Alliance doesn’t have any monthly service fees, nor does it require a minimum balance. Each member gets free online and mobile banking, free bill pay, a free debit card, and free monthly credit score updates.
Van Cortlandt is located on Hillman Avenue in the Bronx. To become a member, applicants must meet the eligibility requirements. However, there are a few options for this:
- Be a resident of Amalgamated, Park Reservoir, Mutual, Orloff Towers, or Cannon Heights Cooperatives
- Be employed or go to school at Amalgamated Housing Corp, Amalgamated Nursery school or Ampark Neighborhood school
- Have an immediate family who is already a member
Van Cortlandt has both checking and savings account options for its members. Their Free Share Draft Checking doesn’t have a minimum balance requirement or charge any fees for written checks. It comes with free online banking and free bill pay.
Webster Bank offers second chance checking called Opportunity Checking. It requires an initial deposit of $50 and has a monthly service fee of $16.95. This amount can be lowered to $11.95 if you sign up for direct deposit.
Opportunity Checking comes with free mobile banking, access to over 300 surcharge-free ATMs, a free debit card, free online banking, free bill pay, and free balance alerts. Webster Bank has locations in Yonkers, New Rochelle, Larchmont, White Plains, Scarsdale, Rye, Greenwich, as well as multiple locations in Connecticut.
Westside Community FCU is located in Churchville and allows anyone within its field of membership to join. Anyone who lives or works in Chili, Churchville, Ogden, Riga, and Sweden is allowed to join. A completed application must be submitted and a minimum of $5 deposited into a savings account before membership can begin.
Westside Community offers multiple savings account options, but also has a completely free share draft account option. Its checking share draft account doesn’t have a monthly service fee or a minimum balance requirement, and also doesn’t charge any fees for written checks.
Woodforest National Bank offers second chance checking for applicants who have a damaged checking history with ChexSystems. Second Chance Checking only requires an initial deposit of $25 to open, as well as a one-time set-up fee of $9.
The monthly service fee is $11.95 without direct deposit but drops to $9.95 with it. The account comes with both online and mobile banking access.
Woodforest has locations in Glenmont, Albany, Herkimer, Fulton, Rochester, Newark, Rome, Canandaigua, Horseheads, Olean, Watertown, Hamburg, Niagara Falls, and Batavia.