Second chance checking gives people with a poor ChexSystem history a chance to open a new checking account, although most accounts have higher fees and limited features compared to their standard counterparts. For customers who have written too many bounced checks or racked up enough overdraft fees, it can be difficult to open a new bank account when they need one. Second chance checking accounts represent a lifeline that allows customers to open up a new checking account without referencing their ChexSystems file or credit report.
While accessible to customers with a checkered banking history, many of these accounts come with certain restrictions, including monthly maintenance fees and no overdraft protection. The best second chance checking accounts feature reasonable fees, widespread availability, and the option to upgrade to a regular account after a certain period of time. For those looking for a way to get back on their financial feet, we’ve rounded up the best second chance checking accounts options.
Best for High-Yield Savings : Varo
Customers who open a second chance checking account with Varo also have optional access to Varo’s competitive high-yield savings account, which has a 3% APY for customers who meet certain requirements. For customers trying to regain their financial footing, Varo makes it easy to save and doesn’t penalize second chance customers.
Access to a high-yield Varo Savings Account
No monthly maintenance fees
No minimum balance requirements
Account requirements in order to qualify for competitive APY
Limited functionality for cash deposits
No physical bank branches
Varo is our top pick for a second chance checking account automatically paired with a high yield savings account. Varo is committed to offering the same low-fee online checking experience to its second chance customers as to its regular account holders. Unlike most other second chance checking accounts, an account with Varo also enables customers to open a high yield savings account with a potential APY of 3% (as of April 2021). This makes it easy for customers to start saving and growing their wealth.
Varo has plenty of other benefits for second chance checking customers, including no minimum balance requirements, no monthly maintenance fees, and early payday with direct deposit. It’s quick and easy to open an account online, and Varo doesn’t penalize applicants for a poor credit score or checkered ChexSystems history.
A second chance checking account with Varo comes with a fully functional debit card, along with access to 55,000+ fee-free Allpoints® ATMs. While Varo doesn’t issue paper checkbooks, if you do need to mail a check, you can do so through their free paper check mailing service.
Like Chime, Varo is an online-only bank, which may have some downsides for some consumers. You can only deposit cash at select retailers like Walmart, CVS, and Safeway. And there’s also no option to get in-person help with any banking issues.
For customers in need of a second chance checking account who also want access to a high-yield savings account, Varo checks all the boxes. Rather than penalizing second chance checking customers, Varo helps account holders get their financial life back on track.
Read our full Varo review here.
Best for Budgeting Tools : Radius
For customers looking to gain a better understanding of their financial picture, Radius offers a robust set of budgeting and money management tools that allows account holders to budget, track spending, analyze trends, and take control over their finances.
Integrated personal finance management tools
Mobile money management
Opportunity to upgrade account
$9 monthly service charge
$500 daily debit card limit
Mobile check deposit limits
Radius is a good option for a second chance checking account with robust budgeting tools. This account makes it easy for customers to know exactly where they stand with their money. Radius second chance checking accounts feature a robust selection of money management tools, which give customers the ability to set budgets, track spending, analyze trends, and plan for the future. Account holders can also link external accounts, make a plan to pay down debts, and view their net worth.
Radius second chance checking is available on a select basis for customers who don’t meet the qualifications for a Rewards Checking account. Customers can apply online to see if they qualify. After twelve months of positive banking history, you may be eligible to upgrade to a Rewards Checking account.
Like most other second chance checking accounts, an account from Radius does come with several fees and restrictions. There’s a $9 monthly service charge, as well as a daily debit card limit of $500. There’s also a mobile check deposit limit of $1,000 per day and $2,000 every 10 days.
If you have any questions about your account, you can reach Radius customer service representatives by phone, email, or live chat. Radius also features a mobile app that lets you deposit checks, transfer funds, and manage your money on the go.
While Radius does have some more limitations than other second chance checking accounts on this list, it’s a good option for customers looking for a robust set of financial planning tools to help them manage their money.
Read our full Radius bank review here.
Best for Bank Branches : Wells Fargo
For customers looking for a second chance checking account from an established national bank with plenty of physical bank branches, Wells Fargo is a good option. Unlike online-only banks, Wells Fargo offers in-person customer services to customers who need help with their accounts.
Established national bank with plenty of branches
No overdraft fees
Available to teens and young adults
$5 monthly servicing fee
$25 minimum opening deposit
No check writing ability
Wells Fargo is a great option for a second chance checking account from a bank with in-person banking services. Unlike many of the online-only on this list, Wells Fargo is an established brick and mortar institution with 5,200 retail banking branches in 37 states. For customers who prefer to do their banking in person, a second chance checking account from Wells Fargo may best suit their needs.
Aside from the ability to bank in person, another attractive feature of this account is the lack of overdraft and non-sufficient funds fees. Customers worried about overdrafting can rest assured that they won’t be charged any additional overdraft fees if their balance dips below $0.
Account holders can take advantage of budgeting tools, bill pay, and the Wells Fargo mobile app.
A second chance checking account from Wells Fargo does come with a few fees, including a $5 monthly maintenance fee and a $25 minimum balance requirement. There’s also no check-writing ability for this account, so it’s not a good fit for customers who frequently write checks.
A second chance checking account from Wells Fargo doesn’t come with as many perks and benefits as some other options, but it’s a good choice if you prefer to do most of your banking in person at a physical bank branch and are having trouble qualifying for another account.
Read our full Wells Fargo review here.
Best for Opportunity to Upgrade : BBVA
If you don’t yet qualify for a traditional checking account, BBVA gives second chance checking customers the opportunity to upgrade to a traditional account after twelve months. Customers can qualify for this upgrade as long as their account is active and has a positive balance.
Ability to upgrade account after 12 months
Unlimited check writing
Simple Cash Back offers
$13.95 monthly service charge
$3 paper statements
$25 minimum deposit
BBVA is our top choice for a second chance checking account that allows you to upgrade to a regular checking account after 12 months as long as they have an active account with a positive balance.
Customers are encouraged to apply for a traditional account from BBVA first. If they don’t qualify, they can then open a second chance checking account and begin establishing a responsible banking history. There’s a $25 minimum deposit in order to open an account.
Like many second chance checking accounts, an account from BBVA comes with some hefty fees. There’s a $13.95 monthly maintenance fee associated with the account. There’s also a $3 fee for paper statements, which customers can opt out of by selecting paperless billing.
Accounts come with a complimentary Visa debit card, and customers can manage their funds through the BBVA mobile app. BBVA’s Simple Cash Back program also allows account holders to earn cash back on everyday purchases from select retailers.
With higher than average fees, a second chance checking account from BBVA might not be the best fit for price-conscious consumers. That said, it’s a good option for customers looking for an easy way to upgrade to a traditional checking account after the first year.
Read our full BBVA review here.
Best for Easy Approval : Peoples Bank
If you’re having trouble getting approved for a checking account and aren’t sure where to turn, Peoples Bank features a high acceptance rate for a no-frills second chance checking account. While this account doesn’t have as many bells and whistles as competitors, applicants can rest easy knowing that their application will likely be approved.
Easy approval process
Online banking tools
Access to a personal checkbook
$4.95 monthly fee
$30 account activation deposit
Peoples Bank is the best choice for customers looking for an easy approval process. A second chance checking account from Peoples Bank may not have the robust set of features that some other accounts offer, but virtually all applicants are accepted unless they’ve been reported for fraudulent activity. Customers can apply online with a $30 activation deposit.
While Peoples Bank doesn’t have quite so many online tools as competitors, it still offers the basics for customers to manage their money online. Account holders can take advantage of online banking, online bill pay, and online money transfers.
Another nice feature of this account is that it’s available to joint applicants. If you and a spouse or family member are interested in opening a joint checking account together, Peoples Bank makes it easy to do so. A second chance checking account from Peoples Bank also comes with a personal checkbook and a free MasterCard debit card.
There are a few fees associated with this account, including a $4.95 monthly fee and a $30 activation deposit. With limited fee-free ATM access, customers will also likely incur ATM fees if they need to withdraw cash from their account.
Although a second chance checking account from Peoples Bank doesn’t offer quite as much functionality as a traditional checking account, it’s still a decent option for customers who don’t qualify for accounts elsewhere.
If you’re having trouble qualifying for a traditional checking account thanks to a checkered ChexSystems history, a second chance checking account can provide access to valuable banking tools. That said, these accounts often come with a variety of fees and limitations. Varo lead the pack when it comes to second chance checking accounts with no fees and helpful online banking features.
Compare the Best Second Chance Checking
|Bank||Minimum Opening Deposit||Monthly Fee||Branch Locations||Account Management|
Best for High-Yield Savings
|$0||$0||None||Online and mobile banking|
Best for Budgeting Tools
|$10||$9||Boston||Online, mobile, and in-person banking|
Best for Bank Branches
|$25||$5||37 states||Online, mobile, and in-person banking|
Best for Opportunity to Upgrade
|$25||$13.95||Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, Texas||Online, mobile, and in-person banking|
Best for Easy Approval
|$30||$4.95||Texas||Online, mobile, and in-person banking|
Frequently Asked Questions
Who Needs a Second Chance Checking Account?
Any customer who can’t qualify for a traditional checking account should consider opening a second chance checking account. Second chance checking accounts are a good fit for people with a poor ChexSystems history, those who have a history of bounced checks and overdrafts, and unbanked customers looking for access to a checking account. In most cases, a second chance checking account isn’t the best option for customers who can qualify for an account with fewer fees and additional perks.
How Much Do Second Chance Checking Accounts Cost?
Second chance checking accounts often have a variety of fees associated with them. These include monthly maintenance fees ranging from $4.95 to $13.95, as well as minimum deposit requirements ranging from $10 to $30. However, some banks, like Chime and Varo, charge comparatively few fees.
Is It Worth Getting a Second Chance Checking Account?
If you don’t qualify for a traditional checking account, a second chance checking account is definitely worth it to prevent you from becoming unbanked. Unbanked individuals aren’t able to access a traditional bank account, and may turn to predatory check cashing services and lenders as a result. Second chance checking accounts typically come with far fewer fees than other solutions and can help you to manage money, receive pay through direct deposits, and establish a history of responsible banking.
How We Chose the Best Second Chance Checking
We chose these top contenders based on features including account fees, upgrade options, budgeting options, and easy approval. We looked for banks that offered second chance checking accounts even for customers with a poor ChexSystems history. Then, we narrowed down our list to providers that charge low to moderate fees. Finally, we looked for providers with an easy application process and a high chance of approval.