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Money Management

Best Checking Accounts for Bad Credit



If your credit score is low, you may have a difficult time opening a checking account.

Millions of Americans go without a basic checking account, resorting to pre-paid debit cards and check cashing businesses because their bad credit is holding them back.

But a bank account is a critical part of a strong financial plan, one that can help you on your path to improving your credit.

Whether you’re worried about your approval odds or you’ve been denied by your local bank, a second chance checking account could be the answer to your problems.

Below, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 best checking accounts for bad credit.

Best Checking Accounts for Bad Credit

1. BBVA

BBVA is one of the biggest names in the banking business, with physical branches in several states and online banking available as well.

When you bank with BBVA, you can rest assured you’re entrusting your funds to one of the nation’s largest and most reliable banks.

BBVA’s Second Chance Checking Account is hard to beat, with minimal account requirements and full banking services.

Key Details

  • Visa debit card
  • Unlimited checks and mobile deposits
  • Cashback rewards
  • Full-service online banking
  • No credit checks for new accounts
  • No ATM fees at participating ATMs
  • $25 minimum initial deposit
  • Budgeting tools

Just note that this account comes with a monthly fee of $13.95 for the first year, after which time you can upgrade to a regular checking account.

You could also be charged for insufficient funds and returned deposits.

2. GoBank Online Checking

Second on the list is GoBank, a mobile banking service offered by Green Dot Bank.

GoBank isn’t concerned with your credit history, so they don’t check your credit report or ChexSystems.

As a fully online bank, GoBank does not have any brick and mortar branches, but it does have a large network of fee-free ATMs.

Key Details

  • A debit card
  • Free cash withdrawal from 42,000+ ATMs in-network
  • Mobile banking services
  • Waiver of minimum deposit when you open your account online
  • No overdraft fees
  • In-person deposits at Walmart and 7-11 with $4.95 fee
  • $8.95 monthly fee or a minimum of $500 of monthly deposits

3. Bank of America

Another bank with major brand-name familiarity, Bank of America provides people with subpar credit the opportunity to open a checking account.

The SafeBalance Banking® Account is designed with second-chance checking in mind. You don’t have to worry about overdrafting from the account, as Bank of America automatically declines charges that exceed your account balance.

While you can’t write physical checks, you get a number of benefits from a name you can trust, one with local branches nationwide.

Key Details

  • Large ATM network with fee-free transactions
  • $2.50 transaction fee at non-participating ATMs
  • Mobile deposits
  • No overdraft fees
  • Same-day transfers
  • $25 minimum to open the account
  • $4.95 monthly fee

4. Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo is yet another major bank offering checking account services to individuals with bad credit.

You don’t have to worry about being declined based on your credit history with the Opportunity Checking Account from Wells Fargo.

Wells Fargo’s Opportunity account provides you with full-service banking resources.

Key Features

  • Free transfers between your Wells Fargo checking and savings accounts
  • Overdraft protection (at an additional cost)
  • 13,000 ATMs with free withdrawals nationwide
  • Upgrade to a standard checking account after 12 months
  • $25 minimum to open the account
  • $10 monthly fee, $500 monthly deposits, or $1,500 daily balance

5. First American Bank

Another solid choice for a second chance checking account is First American Bank.

If you live outside of Florida, Illinois, or Wisconsin, you may be unfamiliar with the bank, but it offers online banking across the nation.

You can start your journey to improving your finances with First American’s Fresh Start Checking Account and all of its advantageous features.

Key Features

  • Mastercard® Debit Card
  • Mobile, online, and phone banking
  • Paperless statements
  • 55,000 ATMs nationwide with free withdrawals
  • Limitless check writing
  • $9.95 monthly fee
  • $50 minimum to open the account

6. Radius Bank

Radius Bank is another great option for bankers with bad credit, who are eligible for its Essential Checking account.

The online bank excels in the technology department, with user-friendly online tools designed to help you get your budget in order and keep it on track.

If you’re looking for more than just basic checking account services, Radius Bank and its Financial Dashboard is your go-to.

Key Features

  • Mobile bill payments and deposits with $1k daily deposit limit
  • Paper checks
  • Debit card with Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay functionality
  • No minimum required to open the account
  • $500 daily limit on debit card purchases
  • $5 overdraft fee
  • Eligibility for upgrade to Rewards Checking after 1 year

7. Fifth Third Express Banking

Fifth Third is an established bank that makes checking accounts with bad credit simple.

Fifth Third Express Banking® is a great option if you’re looking for a no-frills account with minimum requirements.

Though the account comes with some limited features, it also has minimal fees and restrictions.

Key Features

  • No credit requirements
  • No overdraft fees
  • Zero monthly fees or minimum balance requirement
  • Mobile deposits
  • Mobile/online banking
  • No check deposits or cashing at ATMs
  • Option to deposit at local Fifth Third branches

8. Aspire Federal Credit Union

Aspire Federal Credit Union is a unique option for applicants who’ve struggled to get approved elsewhere due to bad credit.

Aptly named, their Fresh Start Checking Account helps you to build credibility in your money management.

To join Aspire, you simply need to make a donation to one of the credit union’s partnering nonprofits.

Key Features

  • Debit card
  • Requires 100% direct deposit each paycheck
  • Fraudulent-free record
  • Zero monthly fees
  • Online account management
  • 70,000+ fee-free ATMs in network

9. Chime

Chime is an up-and-coming fully online bank with services designed for individuals without great credit.

The FDIC-insured online bank has everything you need, with hardly any requirements or penalties tied to its accounts.

The bank’s app has amassed an impressive amount of perfect reviews, suggesting it provides a convenient and navigable experience for account holders.

Key Features

  • No ChexSystem review
  • No minimum payment to open an account, or monthly minimums
  • Zero monthly fees, period
  • Mobile deposits and transfers
  • Direct deposits for paychecks
  • $2.50 fee on ATMs outside Chime’s network

10. Axos

Rounding out the list of the best checking accounts for poor credit is Axos. Axos has been thriving in the online-only banking work since its inception in 2000.

You can find a few physical locations in California, but the bank is mostly digital.

Axos provides several checking account options, including a rewarding second chance checking account.

Key Features

  • Mobile banking
  • Second chance savings accounts available
  • Overdraft protection at an additional cost
  • $50 minimum to open the account
  • $6.95 monthly fee, subject to increase to $8.95
  • $310 withdrawal limit per ATM transaction

What Is a Second Chance Checking Account?

Banks are quick to deny people with poor credit from getting a checking account.

While some institutions judge people harshly based on their credit history, others are more understanding and have specifically created checking accounts for bad credit.

Though these second chance accounts may come with some fees and limitations, they waive the credit checks banks usually put applicants through.

In most cases, they offer the tools you need to successfully manage your finances, such as debit cards, ATM access, mobile deposits, and online banking.

At any rate, they’re far more beneficial than relying on prepaid cards and cashier’s checks.

Benefits of a Checking Account with Bad Credit

An online checking account can open so many doors, and it’s all but essential in today’s economy.

As more and more retailers and service providers move online, the need for an online account grows ever more important.

Without a bank account, paying bills can be a challenge, as can making deposits and transferring funds.

You might also have a difficult time getting approved for an auto loan or a mortgage, which can severely impact your future.

In addition to its essential functions, a bank account adds convenience to your life.

It streamlines simple tasks and allows you to easily track and manage your budget. Even if you have bad credit, a checking account is well worth pursuing.

How to Get Approved for a Checking Account with Bad Credit

Despite what you might believe based on past experiences, a poor credit score doesn’t make you ineligible for a checking account.

The steps below can help you to lock in a checking account, along with all of its advantages, from a great bank.

Check the bank’s credit requirements.

As you can see from the list above, not all banks check your credit or your history with banking in their screening process.

If you’re worried your low score or track record of overdrafts might hurt your approval odds, look for a bank that doesn’t use ChexSystems to screen applicants.

Study your report and dispute errors.

You can get a free copy of your ChexSystems report annually, and you should. A simple error could be all that’s standing between you and a bank account.

Likewise, a small unpaid service fee can do a lot of damage. Look into settling your unpaid fees and disputing errors to improve your chances.

Opt for a second chance bank account.

Bank accounts for bad credit may come with a small additional monthly fee, but it’s well worth it for the benefits.

If your credit score is holding you back and there’s no working around it, one of these accounts can give you the fresh start you need.

Consider a prepaid debit card.

While they don’t come with nearly as many benefits as a checking account, prepaid debit cards are another viable solution for applicants with poor credit.

They don’t require you to undergo a credit check and essentially work like regular debit cards once you load them with funds.

Just note that these cards often come with hidden fees and don’t include any of the banking features an account would.

What to Look for in a Checking Account for Bad Credit

Ready to start shopping?

Not all bank accounts are created equally. Keep the following criteria in mind as you sift through all of your second chance checking account options.

Minimal Fees

As rewarding as checking accounts for bad credit are, it’s hard to completely escape fees.

The majority of accounts will come with a small maintenance fee each month, though Chime and some others do not.

Some banks are willing to waive their service fees if you keep a minimum balance or regularly deposit a certain amount.

Low Minimum Balance

As you can see from the list of banks above, many of them require you to deposit a minimum amount to open your account.

What you may not realize is that the minimum amount required to open your account is often expected to be in your account at all times.

If your balance dips below that number, you could be slapped with a fee.

As you shop around, look for banks that have little or no minimum balance or associated fees.

Banking Services

Just because your credit score is low, you shouldn’t be stuck without access to basic banking features.

Look at each bank account’s benefits, namely the services that are free of charge.

You can keep your eye out for perks like:

  • ATM access
  • Debit card
  • Limitless checks
  • Local branches
  • Mobile deposits
  • Mobile banking app
  • Paperless statements

While not all of the services above are necessary for a positive banking experience (like access to a local branch), others are.

Consider the benefits above, decide which ones matter to you most, and look for an account that offers them.

Is a Second Chance Checking Account for You?

Your credit history shouldn’t hinder your access to essential banking services.

A second chance bank account can grant you access to a world of convenient features and money management tools.

As you work to rebuild your credit, getting approved for a bank account should be the least of your worries.

Evaluate the features of the checking accounts above, find the one that best suits your needs, and take the first step by applying for an account today.

You can say goodbye to preloading debit cards and waiting on check-cashing services and say hello to hassle-free banking.

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