Banks and credit unions can check your banking history against the records maintained by ChexSystems, TeleCheck, and Early Warning Services. 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 a practical option. You need a checking account, and you need it now.
Fortunately, there are banks and credit unions that offer second chance checking to customers with a poor banking history.
9 Best Second Chance Bank Accounts for 2023
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.
Second Chance Bank Accounts Near Me
Local banks and credit unions offering second chance checking accounts can be found in almost every state. However, if you live in a location without nearby second chance account options, don’t worry! You can still sign up for one through numerous nationwide and online banks listed above. Here is a list of second chance bank accounts by state.
- True North Federal Credit Union: True Options Checking
- Diamond Bank: Encore Checking
- Focus Bank: Fresh Start Checking
- Red River Credit Union: Fresh Start Checking
- River Valley Community Federal Credit Union: Fresh Start Checking
- Liberty Savings Bank: Clean Slate Checking
- NuVista Federal Credit Union: The Last Chance Checking
- Eastern CT Savings Bank: Restart Checking
- Finex Credit Union: Re-Start Checking
- Hartford Federal Credit Union: 2nd Chance Checking
- WSFS Bank: Fresh Start Checking
District of Columbia
- CommonWealth One Federal Credit Union: Second Chance Checking
- Community Bank & Trust: Second Slice Checking
- Georgia United Credit Union: Restart Checking
- Georgia’s Own Credit Union: Resolution Checking
- Health Center Credit Union: Fresh Start Checking
- Peach State Federal Credit Union: Fresh Start Checking
- Hawaii USA Federal Credit Union: MyChance Checking
- Latah Credit Union: Second Chance Checking
- Catholic & Community Credit Union: Rebound Checking
- First American Bank: Fresh Start Checking
- First Eagle Bank: Eagle Fresh Start Checking
- Marquette Bank: ReStart Checking
- Collins Community Credit Union: Take2 Checking
- Federation Bank: Fresh Start Checking
- Greater Iowa Credit Union: Fresh Start Checking
- North Iowa Community Credit Union: Fresh Start Debit
- Central National Bank: New Opportunity Checking
- United Consumers Credit Union: Second Chance Checking
- Neighbors Federal Credit Union: Basic Checking
- Pelican State Credit Union: Horizon Checking
- Southwest Louisiana Credit Union: Fresh Start Checking
- Five County Credit Union: 2nd Chance Checking
- Central Credit Union of Maryland: Renew Checking
- Market USA Federal Credit Union: Fresh Start Checking
- Security Plus Federal Credit Union: Revive Checking
- Alden Credit Union: No Boundaries Checking
- Athol Credit Union: Fresh Start Checking
- Washington Savings Bank: Interest Rewards Checking
- Credit Union One: Basic Checking
- Horizon Bank: Fresh Start Checking
- Marshall Community Credit Union: Fresh Start Checking
- Members First Credit Union: Fresh Start Checking
- Michigan State University Federal Credit Union: Rebuild Checking
- Minnesota Valley Federal Credit Union: Second Chance Checking
- Citizens National Bank: Clean Slate Checking
- Gulf Coast Community Credit Union: New Chance Checking
- Hope Credit Union: Easy Checking
- MUNA Federal Credit Union: Fresh Start Checking
- Clearwater Credit Union: SmartSpend Checking
- Valley Federal Credit Union: Opportunity Checking
- Central National Bank: New Opportunity Checking
- Clark County Credit Union: CheckAgain Checking
- WestStar Credit Union: Fresh Start Checking
- GFA Federal Credit Union: New Start Checking
- Credit Union of New Jersey: Right Turn Checking
- Jersey Shore Federal Credit Union: Fresh Start Checking
- United Teletech Financial Federal Credit Union: Fresh Start Checking
- Bank of Albuquerque: Opportunity Banking
- Lea County State Bank: Opportunity Checking
- Alternatives Federal Credit Union: Fresh Start Checking
- Centra Credit Union: Opportunity Checking
- Financial Trust Federal Credit Union: 2nd Chance Checking
- Fulton Savings Bank: New Opportunity Checking
- Genesee Valley Federal Credit Union: Fresh Start Checking
- Excite Credit Union: Fresh Start Checking
- American Partners Federal Credit Union: EZ 4U Checking
- Skyla Credit Union: Fresh Start Checking
- Point West Credit Union: Fresh Start Checking
- Allegent Community Federal Credit Union: Fresh Start Checking
- Utilities Employees Credit Union: Advantages Green Light Checking
- West Branch Valley Federal Credit Union: Back on Track Checking
- Webster Bank: Opportunity Checking
- Caro Smart Financial Solutions: Rebound Checking
- Carolina Trust Federal Credit Union: Encore Checking
- HopeSouth Credit Union: Fresh Start Checking
- Peach State Federal Credit Union: Fresh Start Checking
- Vital Federal Credit Union: Fresh Start Checking
- First National Bank: Credit Builder
- Greater Eastern Credit Union: Fresh Start Checking
- Holston Methodist Federal Credit Union: Second Chance Checking
- Hearthside Bank: Square One Checking
- American United Federal Credit Union: FreshStart Checking
- Cyprus Credit Union: Fresh Start Checking
- Central Virginia Federal Credit Union: Fresh Start Checking
- CommonWealth One Federal Credit Union: Second Chance Checking
- Healthcare Systems Federal Credit Union: Renew Checking
- Member One Federal Credit Union: Smart Choice Checking
- MountainCrest Credit Union: Fresh Start Checking
- Clear Mountain Bank: StartFresh Checking
- West Virginia Federal Credit Union: Fresh Start Checking
- WyHy Federal Credit Union: Second Chance Checking
- WYO Central Federal Credit Union: 2nd Chance Checking
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 with a consumer reporting agency. Here are some examples:
- Unpaid fees (likely the most common reason to be listed)
- Excessive overdrafts
- 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 bank account there, you only have a 2 in 10 chance of success.
Additionally, being listed in TeleCheck or EWS can further decrease your chances, as some banks may run these checks even if they do not pull your ChexSystems report. To avoid the disappointment and frustration of repeated rejections, it is recommended to open a second chance bank account.
Why get a second chance checking account?
Banks that offer second chance checking accounts 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, a second chance checking account offers guaranteed approval. 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 an unpaid overdraft fee or non-sufficient funds loss. However, second chance banks are willing to overlook these kinds of offenses and offer you a bank 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 and credit unions are comparable to those of a regular bank account.
If you apply for a second chance checking account today, you could be banking again in no time. This is the simplest and fastest way you can start improving your banking history.
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 goal is to find the perfect fit for your needs while paying the minimal 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 is usually 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 to open a checking 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 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.
However, if you are unable to get approved or simply seeking alternatives, here are some additional possibilities:
- 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.
- E-wallets – PayPal, Venmo, Cash App, 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 a bank account.
- Brokerage accounts– 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 brokerage 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 bank 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 checking 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.
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 checking account or non-ChexSystems checking account?
It’s difficult to declare one as superior to the other since both types of checking accounts offer nearly the same features and benefits. Nevertheless, non-ChexSystems accounts are simply regular checking accounts that don’t require a credit check, so they may come with better features than second chance accounts.
Additionally, certain second chance banks may require you to complete a financial education course to assist you in managing your finances more effectively, but many don’t. While this requirement may seem like a disadvantage, it actually isn’t; you might discover that the lessons are quite valuable.
Is it easier to qualify for a non-ChexSystems checking account or a second chance checking account?
It may seem like you have a better chance of being approved if a bank doesn’t check your ChexSystems report, but that’s not always the case. Banks that don’t check ChexSystems may still find your name in EWS or TeleCheck, which could lead to your application being denied.
With second chance checking accounts, they may have already seen your record. However, 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 a 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 second chance credit unions 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 can I get 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 a checking account that offers the features you are looking for and click through to apply online in minutes.
See also: Credit Unions That Don’t Use ChexSystems
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 negative 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’s time to open a second chance checking account and start building your banking history with a financial 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 explore your options.
- 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.
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.