Banks and credit unions can check your banking history against the records maintained by ChexSystems, TeleCheck, and EWS. If you are listed in any of these databases, you may be turned down for a checking account.
These records are maintained for a period of five years. So, waiting for your entries to be cleared is not an option. You need a checking account, and you need it now.
Thankfully, there are banks and credit unions out there that offer second chance checking to customers listed in ChexSystems, TeleCheck, and Early Warning Services.
Best Second Chance Bank Accounts for 2022
Below is a list of our top recommended second chance checking accounts for people looking for a fresh start. These second chance checking accounts offer guaranteed approval and come with the lowest fees, and great features and benefits.
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 is 100% free and has no monthly fees:
- no monthly maintenance fees
- no foreign transaction fees
- no minimum balance fees
You can also start building your credit with the Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card. It’s a secured credit card with no annual fees, no credit checks, and no interest charges.
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.
You can see why Chime is our #1 choice.
Features & Benefits
- No minimum balance or hidden fees
- Fee-free overdraft up to $200 with Overdrive
- 40,000 fee-free Allpoint ATMs in the U.S.
- Get paid up to 2 days faster
Current is a financial technology company, not a bank. The company does not use ChexSystems or pull your credit report, and they have a lot to offer.
A Current mobile bank account includes fee-free overdraft protection of up to $200. Account holders also get access to over 40,000 fee-free Allpoint ATMs with your Current debit card, and there is no minimum balance or hidden fees.
You can also get paid up to two days early with direct deposit with a Current Premium account. Plus, Current offers up to 4.00% APY with Current Savings Pods.
Features & Benefits
- $0 ATM fees
- $0 overdraft fees
- Visa debit card, iOS and Android mobile app
- Up to 2% cash back on debit card purchases
Upgrade doesn’t pull your ChexSystems report, but they do look at your credit report.
The Upgrade Rewards Checking account has no monthly fees and no ATM fees. You’ll also get up to 2% cash back on everyday debit card purchases.
Upgrade reimburses up to five out-of-network ATM fees per month if you meet certain conditions.
Upgrade is partnered with Cross River Bank, Member FDIC, and your funds are FDIC-insured up to $250,000. With an Upgrade checking account, you can also get up to 20% lower rates on Upgrade loans and credit cards.
Features & Benefits
- No credit check or ChexSystems
- $100 bonus after 10 purchases in 60 days
- 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.
Features & Benefits
- No overdraft or NSF fees
- Unlimited ATM fee reimbursements
- $50 minimum deposit required
Axos Bank doesn’t use ChexSystems or pull your credit report.
The Rewards Checking account from Axos Bank has no monthly maintenance fees, unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements, and it comes with cash back rewards.
You get unlimited free mobile deposits and your funds are FDIC insured up to $250,000. Plus, there are no overdraft fees or non-sufficient fund fees.
There are no minimum balance requirements, and you’ll only need a $50 deposit to open the account.
Features & Benefits
- $10 minimum opening deposit
- Up to 5% cash back on qualified debit card purchases
- 55,000 fee-free ATMs
- Get paid up to 2 days early
Aspiration’s Spend & Save Account hybrid checking and savings account that is entirely online. There’s a $10 minimum opening deposit to get started.
With an Aspiration debit card, you get unlimited fee-free withdrawals at over 55,000 ATMs and one out-of-network ATM reimbursement per month. You can also get paid up to two days early with direct deposit.
You can earn up to 5.00% APY when you spend $1,000/month and deposits are FDIC insured.
Features & Benefits
- $25 minimum opening deposit plus $9 setup fee
- Monthly service fee as low as $9.95 with direct deposit set up
- No ATM fees at Woodforest ATMs
- Flexible overdraft options
Woodforest offers a second chance bank account to members at over 700 branches in 17 states.
The minimum opening deposit is just $25 and you’ll also have to pay a one-time setup fee of $9.
It also comes with a monthly fee of $11.95. You can get it reduced to $9.95 by enrolling in direct deposit. Another small fee is a paper statement fee of $3 per month. It can be waived completely by signing up for e-statements.
Features & Benefits
- Minimum opening deposit of $25.
- Online bill pay and mobile banking suite included.
- Use over 13,000 ATMs free of charge.
- Account alerts, 24/7 fraud monitoring, and zero liability protection for your debit card.
If Wells Fargo declines you for a standard checking account, you may still qualify for their “Clear Access Banking” account.
This second chance checking account has a monthly fee of $5. The only way to avoid it is if the primary account owner is 13 – 24 years old.
There’s a minimum opening deposit of $25. You get access to online bill pay, mobile banking, and over 13,000 ATMs free of charge.
What are ChexSystems, TeleCheck, and Early Warning Services?
ChexSystems, TeleCheck, and EWS are consumer reporting agencies that monitor and report the banking history of hundreds of millions of consumers. Those who are flagged by these agencies have records in their databases. ChexSystems is the largest of the lot.
Banks run your name through one or more of these databases when you apply for a bank account. If they pull up a record, you probably will not be able to open an account.
A wide range of offenses can get you listed in ChexSystems, TeleCheck, or EWS. Here are some examples:
- Unpaid overdraft fees (likely the most common reason to be listed)
- Abuse of your debit card
- Non-sufficient funds losses
- Various forms of check-related fraud
- Failure to pay other fees or service charges
- Sometimes the offense is simply listed as “Undisclosed”
Thinking back, you may be able to figure out exactly what got you listed. But often, the incident may have been so small that you have forgotten about it—or never even been aware of it in the first place.
What is a second chance checking account?
Second chance checking accounts (sometimes referred to as “fresh start checking” accounts) are offered by financial institutions willing to give customers a second chance to prove that they’re a reliable banking customer.
If you are listed in ChexSystems, you will be hard-pressed to find a bank or credit union willing to consider you. There are options available. However, only a minority of financial institutions are willing to ignore your negative checking history.
Over 9,000 banks and credit unions in the US screen applicants through ChexSystems. In all, that adds up to over 100,000 branches. It also accounts for 80% of banking institutions in the country.
If you pick a financial institution at random and try to open a new account there, you only have a 2 in 10 chance of success.
Actually, your chances are probably even slimmer than that. Why? Because if you happen to be listed in TeleCheck and/or EWS as well, that too can raise a red flag on your name. A bank that does not pull your ChexSystems report may still run a TeleCheck or EWS check and end up turning you down anyway.
Obviously, you can waste quite a bit of time doing this and get steadily more discouraged by rejection after rejection. That’s why it’s best to just open a second chance bank account.
Why get a second chance checking account?
Banks that offer second chance banking do so in full knowledge of your ChexSystems, TeleCheck, or EWS record.
Based on the information they see on your file, there is a possibility that you will still be denied. If, for example, you committed repeated counts of check fraud, most banks will not want to risk dealing with you.
In most cases, however, approval for a second chance checking account is pretty much guaranteed. These banks know that sometimes good customers can go through lapses in judgment. They are willing to take a risk on you despite your past banking issues or bad credit.
Banks and credit unions that use ChexSystems may reject you for overdraft fees that didn’t get paid or non-sufficient funds loss. However, second chance banks are willing to overlook these kinds of offenses and offer you an account.
In fact, approval rates for second chance checking accounts are very high, and most banks process customer applications very quickly. Features offered by these banks are comparable to those of a regular account. If you apply for an account today, you could be banking again in no time. This is the simplest and fastest way you can start raising your credit score right now.
What should I look for in a second chance bank account?
The best second chance bank accounts come with features such as:
- Low or no monthly fees
- No minimum balance requirements
- No overdraft fees
- Free Visa or Mastercard debit card
- A large fee-free ATM network
- Online banking
- Mobile banking
The key is to get as many features as you can while paying the least amount of fees. If you sign up for an online checking account, you’ll want to find one that offers many locations where you can deposit cash.
Second Chance Checking vs. Non-ChexSystems Checking
Aren’t they basically the same?
Not quite. But, it really depends on how specific you want to get. They serve the same purpose, but technically a “second chance” checking account and a “non-ChexSystems” checking account are two different things.
- When you apply for a non-ChexSystems checking account, your ChexSystems report is not screened.
- When you apply for a second chance checking account, your report usually is still checked.
- The other big difference is that second chance banking may come with some additional limitations or strings attached. The institution may require that you enroll in a course that teaches personal finance in order to open a new account.
That being said, a lot of the time, the two terms are used interchangeably.
All in all, both of these types of bank accounts have a lot more in common than otherwise. This is the reason why they tend to be grouped together, despite their differences.
Searching for a comprehensive list of the top banks without ChexSystems? Take a look at our in-depth non-ChexSystems banking guide.
If, for whatever reason, you still do not qualify for a second chance checking account, what can you do?
As mentioned previously, we do have a detailed page on non-ChexSystems banks. Some of the banks we recommend in that guide that do not use ChexSystems may fit your needs.
Second chance and non-ChexSystems bank accounts really are the most convenient options. They are easy to get started with and provide you with the best features.
If you cannot get approved for whatever reason, however, or you simply are looking for alternatives, here are some additional possibilities:
- E-wallets – PayPal and similar services sometimes offer debit cards to select customers.
- Secured credit cards – This type of credit card requires you to have a refundable security deposit. Your credit limit will be equal to your security deposit.
- Foreign bank account – If you live close to the border or travel often, see if a foreign bank will allow you to open an account.
- Prepaid debit cards – A prepaid debit card is much like a credit card. Fees on prepaid cards have come down, and some of them include a surprisingly large range of benefits.
- Money market accounts (brokerages) – If you can swing a large balance requirement, this is another option that may work out.
Of all of these alternative options, the two best are prepaid debit cards and money market accounts.
After 6 months to a year with a second chance checking account, there is a good chance that you will be able to upgrade to a regular checking account at the same institution.
Hopefully, from that point onward, you will maintain a clean banking record. But how can you make sure you do not end up in ChexSystems, EWS, or TeleCheck again?
Anyone (including your bank or credit union) can make a mistake, so there is no surefire way to guarantee that you will not run into this issue in the future. But the following tips can minimize your chances of another mishap.
- Check your account balance regularly. Make it a habit.
- Set up overdraft protection.
- Set up alerts for when your balance falls under a certain threshold.
- Set up alerts for large payments and transfers.
- Review your budget at least once a month. Figure out where all your money is going. Cut back on any unnecessary expenses. Consolidate debts and take other steps as needed to simplify your finances and reduce what you owe.
- Understand the terms governing account balance, fees, and so on to the letter.
- Make sure that you never allow your account to dip below the minimum threshold.
- If you incur a fee, either pay it that day or ask customer support to retract it. This is not always easy. It depends on the bank or credit union, the branch, how long you have been a customer, who is working that day, and how busy they are.
- If you can set up direct deposit, do so.
- It should go without say, but you need to follow the rules. Do not try to bend or break them in any way. Even if you are desperate, it is never worth it.
- If an issue does come up, contact customer service immediately and work with an agent for a swift resolution.
If you follow smart banking practices like those described above, you can protect your banking record. Ultimately, this will help you keep fees and daily balance requirements to a minimum and increase your access to banking services.
Which is better, a ‘second chance’ or ‘non-ChexSystems’ bank?
Neither option is really “better.” The features and benefits of the two types of checking accounts are almost identical. Some second chance banks insist that you take an educational course to help you better manage your finances, but many do not. Plus, while you may look at this as a detractor, it really is not; you may find the lessons useful.
Is it easier to qualify for a non-ChexSystems checking account or a second chance checking account?
You might think it’s easier to qualify when ChexSystems isn’t run at all, but this is not always the case. Sometimes a bank that does not look up your ChexSystems record may still find you in EWS or TeleCheck.
With a second chance account, they have seen your record, but they have assessed the risk of numerous customers listed in ChexSystems and have decided that most applicants are still worth taking on.
So in some cases, you might have an easier time being approved by a bank that doesn’t look at ChexSystems, but in others, you might have an easier time being approved for a second chance account.
Is a second chance checking account as good as traditional checking account?
Some of the second chance bank accounts we’ve listed above are just as good, if not better than a regular checking account you have had in the past; particularly the Chime checking option.
Do credit unions offer second chance checking accounts?
Yes, there are quite a few credit unions that offer second chance accounts and some of them are quite good. If you prefer to get a checking account with a credit union, check with your local credit union to see what they have to offer.
How does one apply for a second chance checking account?
Getting started is easy! Just scroll up to our list of recommended second chance banks above or jump down below to select your location from our list. Select an account that offers the features you are looking for and click through to apply online in minutes.
When you are declined a standard checking account because of ChexSystems, TeleCheck, or EWS, you may feel like the banking system has abandoned you.
But your situation is far from unique. Most customers with a less-than-perfect banking history have committed minor infractions, often involving only a few dollars.
While it may not be as convenient, some banks recognize how absurd it is to decline reliable customers simply because of an insignificant incident in their past.
Why go another day without banking when you don’t have to? It is time to start building a solid record again with an institution that recognizes your value as a customer!
Non-ChexSystems Banks by State
Looking for more information and additional options available in your area? Select your state from the list below to find out all your options for banking.
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- Washington, DC
- West Virginia
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.