The Best Checking Accounts for Those With Bad Credit

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You need credit for just about anything these days, including getting a conventional checking account. This might be news to some, but for those that are living with damaged credit, getting something as simple as a bank account to pay bills can be a challenge.

There are no shortage of bank accounts for those that have bad credit though, in fact, they have their own niche. They are often referred to as “second chance accounts”. In some cases, they will be a little more restrictive than a conventional bank account, but they will still provide most, if not all, of the essential bank functionality, as well as some nice perks in many cases.

Open an account today!

Winners: Best Banks For Those With Bad Credit

Chime | Our Top Pick
Chime is a fast-growing internet-only financial company and our top choice for a second chance bank account.

And, best of all, Chime accepts almost all customers who apply. Even if you have bad or poor credit or have been blacklisted by ChexSystems or the credit bureaus.

Features include mobile deposits, direct deposit, online bill payment, NO monthly or annual fees, NO overdrafts fees1, NO credit check, and NO CheckSystems. Opening an account is super easy. It takes about 2 minutes and you don’t have to make an initial deposit. Here’s what we like:

No Monthly Fees

For the past couple of years, Chime’s huge growth has come at the expense of the big banks and their outrageous fees. And it’s one of the best features of a Chime account. There are no monthly or annual service charges, no minimum balance requirement, no foreign transaction fees, no fees at over 60,000 ATMs2, and no fees for mobile and online bill pay.

Deposit Cash for FREE at Over 8,500 Walgreens

Having access to a physical location for cash deposits is important to Chime members. And now it’s easy. All you have to do is go into a Walgreens store, hand the cashier the cash you want to deposit along with your Chime card, and the deposit will show up in your account immediately. This offers Chime members more walk-in locations than any other bank in the U.S. With over 78% of the country within 5 miles of a Walgreens, this is a significant benefit for millions.3

Smart Technology

Unlike big banks, Chime was created during the smartphone era and, therefore, features an app that is more than just a way for customers to review their bank accounts.

You can transfer funds to friends and family, Chime members or not… and they can claim their money instantly4 without any additional apps. The Chime app also has a series of notifications that you can turn on or turn off so you stay in complete control. Misplaced or lost your card? You can instantaneously turn off your card using the app. No wonder over 300,000 customers have given the app a 5-star review.

Customers First

Chime was one of the first to offer a “round up” option. If you use your Chime card on a purchase of $10.65, Chime gives you the option of automatically rounding up to $11.00 and putting the remaining $.35 in your free Chime savings account. And that adds up over time! Plus, Chime pays 0.50% Annual Percentage Yield (APY)5 in interest on that savings account.

If you use direct deposit with your Chime account, you can get your paycheck up to 2 days early6. And Chime is just saying no to big bank NSF charges with a fee-free overdraft program up to $200. Finally, Chime just recently launched their Credit Builder credit card with no interest and no annual fee. We don’t think there is another company innovating for their customers like Chime.

Get a Chime Account Today!

Chase Secure BankingSM | $100 New Account Bonus

For many people, having access to a local bank branch is paramount when setting up a checking account. With over 16,000 ATMs and 4,700 branches across the country, the Chase Secure Banking account might be the perfect fit.

Here are some of our favorite features with this account:

  • NO credit check
  • NO ChexSystems
  • NO minimum deposit to open
  • NO overdraft fees
  • FREE access to over 16,000 Chase ATMs
  • FREE Chase Online Bill Pay
  • FREE money orders and cashier’s checks

Highly Rated Mobile App

Available for iOS and Android, the Chase Mobile app offers 24/7 access to your account. The app is highly rated, earning 4.8 stars out of 5 on the App Store and 4.4 stars out of 5 on Google Play.

You can transfer funds, deposit checks, send money with Zelle, set up account alerts and notifications, and lock your card if it’s been lost or stolen.

The app also has incredibly helpful budgeting tools, personalized insights, and the ability to check your credit score for free.

How The Account Works

Opening the Chase Secure Banking account is easy. They verify your name, address, and social security through Experian, but don’t pull a credit report or credit score. Chase doesn’t use ChexSystems for this account, either. Account approval is immediate, there’s no opening deposit requirement, and you’ll receive your Chase Secure card within a matter of days.

Chase doesn’t offer overdraft services with this account as you can only spend the money you have available and the account does not include paper checks. You should also know that using non-Chase ATMs can cost from $3.00 to $5.00 per transaction.

Chase Secure Banking carries a $4.95 monthly service fee that cannot be waived. But combined with all the free services and the $100 cash bonus when you use the card for 10 purchases within 60 days, the monthly fee doesn’t pose a problem for most customers. And, you’ll have peace of mind with Chase’s Zero Liability Protection if you detect and report unauthorized transactions.

Banking With A Leader

Chase claims to be involved with 40% of Americans in some way or another. There can be comfort in size, reach, and stability. Chase has all of that and the assurance they will be there for a long, long time.

If you’ve wanted to bank with Chase and wondered if you’d qualify, we think you’re going to be really happy with the Chase Secure Banking account.

Get a Chase Secure Banking account today!

Lili | Quick Approval Small Business Banking
Lili was custom-made for freelancers and independent contractors who are operating as sole proprietors and single-member LLCs and we really like their offering. Lili aims to approve most accounts within 2-3 days, but some accounts are approved in 2-3 hours.

Lili offers a checking account and Visa debit card with no initial deposit or minimum balance requirement, no hidden fees, no credit check, and no ChexSystems. Lili makes getting your account easy! Here’s more of what we like:

  • FREE business VISA debit card
  • FREE (and very user-friendly) mobile app
  • NO minimum balance
  • NO NSF charges or fees
  • NO credit check or ChexSystems
  • Receive direct deposit funds 2 days earlier than many banks
  • Mobile check deposit
  • Unlimited fee-free transactions
  • Takes 3 minutes to apply

Integrated Tools

The Lili smartphone app gives you access to tools to manage your expenses and taxes. You assign a category for each expense by swiping left for “life” or personal expenses and right for “work” or business. You can also add receipts to transactions, download quarterly and annual expense reports, and track spending in real-time. Lili will automatically assign an expense category based on the merchant, but allows you to edit the category as needed.

Buckets

Lili has an optional feature called “buckets” that allows you to set aside money in a savings account. The first of these is called a “Tax Bucket”, where you specify a percentage of your direct deposits you want to be saved for future tax payments. You can easily make adjustments and changes along the way and move the money back and forth from your checking account and tax bucket savings account. That way, you know the money will be there when you need to make tax payments.

The second of these buckets is called the Emergency Savings Bucket. You can automatically transfer at least $1 a day to this savings account to use for any larger purchase or unforeseen expense.

Robust for Most

Lili is best for small business owners who want a no-frills, no cost, no minimum balance bank account. You can run all your business and personal expenses through the account and can easily identify and separate them out for accounting and tax purposes. After your account is set up, you can add a business name or DBA name to the account. And you manage everything from the touch of your smartphone.

But there are some limits, too. Lili doesn’t offer checks and you can’t set up your account with an employer identification number. Depositing cash at Green Dot locations can cost up to $4.95 and mobile check deposits are limited to $6,000 per month.

Lili Pro

Lili recently announced a new set of features called Lili Pro. The cost is $4.99 per month and includes a no-fee overdraft up to $200 on debit card purchases and a robust and unlimited invoicing capability built into the smartphone app. On top of that, users receive 1.00% APY on savings account balances and a more robust expense tracking capability. The Pro version also offers cashback when you make purchases at over 14,000 merchants. If you’re not sure you want to sign up for Lili Pro, get Lili Standard (no cost) and you can upgrade later.

Application Process

You can set up an account online. If you’re a freelancer, you should receive approval and account access almost instantly. If you’re a sole proprietor or single-member LLC, approval can take a couple of days. You can fund your account using a mobile check deposit, direct deposit, ACH transfer, or by linking your Venmo, PayPal, or Cash App account.

Lili is open for business. Anyone who is their own boss: a sole proprietor, gigsters (ie. Uber and Lyft drivers), contractors, freelancers, or part-time entrepreneurs – you all qualify! Whether you opt for the fee-free Lili Standard account or the upgraded Lili Pro account, we think you’re going to like the way Lili helps you manage your growing business!

Open a Lili account now!

Current | Earn High Interest
Current is another web-only national bank that has some really great features… and has become one of the fastest-growing checking accounts for consumers who want it all without all the costs and hassles.

Why are we featuring Current on our website? It’s simple: they don’t use ChexSystems or your credit report to open a new account. Sign-up takes about 2 minutes and Current has extremely high acceptance rates. But what’s really cool are the incredible features offered with this account:

  • NO minimum balance
  • NO deposit required to open an account
  • NO overdraft fees when you overdraw by up to $100 with Overdrive™
  • NO fees at over 40,000 ATMS in the U.S.
  • Get your paycheck up to 2 days early with direct deposit
  • Earn 4.0% interest on your balance up to $6,000
  • Earn points for unlimited cashback at participating retailers
  • Send money instantly for free
  • An elegant but simple smartphone app
  • 24/7 member support

Current offers a really unique service it calls Gas Hold Removals. What’s a gas hold? Some gas stations may apply a hold from $50 to $100 when you use a debit card to pump gas. If you only pumped $10 of gas, but the gas station places a $100 hold on your funds, you won’t have access to the $90 difference for up to 3 business days!

The Current debit card will immediately refund the hold so you have access to all your funds. We haven’t found that benefit anywhere in the marketplace.

Here’s what’s really important, though. Deposits are FDIC-insured up to the highest possible amount allowed: $250,000. We love the features, we love the smartphone app, and we love Current. That makes us think you’ll love them too.

Get a Current Account Now!

SoFi Money | Earn a $325 Welcome Bonus
The SoFi Checking & Savings account is offered by SoFi Bank. It’s a checking and savings account on steroids and we love that. Plus, they don’t use ChexSystems to approve accounts.

You get a debit MasterCard and a very slick smartphone app. You can make deposits, write checks, utilize electronic bill pay, and transfer money. There are no monthly fees or overdraft fees. Plus, you earn interest on all the money in the account! The sign-up process can take less than 60 seconds. With over 2.5 million members, SoFi is a bank you can count on!

The $325 bonus comes in two parts. When you deposit at least $10, SoFi will credit your account $25. When you set up direct deposit from an employer, SoFi will credit your account up to $300 (depending on the amount of your direct deposit) and bump the interest rate you earn to 1.25% APY. The bonus and interest rate are some of the highest we’ve seen.

  • No account fees
  • No minimum balance
  • No overdraft fees
  • No fees at over 55,000 ATMs
  • Access to SoFi member benefits like career coaching and financial advising
  • Automated bill pay
  • Freeze debit card on-the-go
SoFi Money has been great! The account was easy to open and I got my debit card a few days later. The smartphone app is easy to use and I can check everything from my computer, too. I’ve had some issues with ChexSystems in the past and SoFi Checking & Savings seems to be the perfect account.

Kevin M., SoFi Customer

Get a SoFi Account Now!

Acorns | $75 New Account Bonus

Acorns is making a name as a place to invest money for the long term, but what we really like is that they offer both checking and savings accounts. Best of all, Acorns doesn’t use ChexSystems or a credit report to approve accounts! That makes Acorns Spend another of our favorite second chance checking accounts. As a company built to compete with the largest banks, Acorns offers some extraordinary benefits.

We love the heavy metal tungsten Visa debit card and the world-class smartphone app that allows you to manage every aspect of your new checking account such as budgeting, spending, and security.

Another nice option is the ability to round up on every purchase and Acorns will take that money and automatically put it in a savings account. This really helps build a nest egg.

It takes about 2-3 minutes to sign up and not only do you get a checking and savings account, but you also have access to an investment account once you’re ready to consider that. And, it’s free. Here’s more:

  • FREE Visa® debit card
  • FREE bank-to-bank transfers
  • FREE physical check sending online or through the mobile app
  • FREE mobile check deposits
  • FREE or reimbursed ATM withdrawals nationwide
  • NO minimum balance or overdraft fees
  • NO credit check; ChexSystems OK
  • FDIC insured

There is a $3 monthly fee that is easily covered by the ATM fee reimbursement and other goodies included with the account. To get the $75 bonus, all you have to do is set up Acorns Spend as your direct deposit method with your employer and receive 2 direct deposits of at least $250 each ($500 total).

If you’ve struggled with poor credit or ChexSystems, Acorns might be the perfect account.

Get An Acorns Account!

Aspiration Spend & Save | Earn A $200 Welcome Bonus
Aspiration is a socially and environmentally conscious company that can help you make more sustainable choices — while making the most of your money. Their Spend & Save account combines both checking and savings and opening an account takes just a couple of minutes. Aspiration does not use ChexSystems or your credit report to open an account.

Free or Monthly Fee – You Choose

With an Aspiration account, you decide how much your monthly fee will be — starting at $0. Through its “Pay What Is Fair” model, the company trusts customers to choose a monthly fee that’s fair for your wallet and fairly reflects the service you get from Aspiration. You can change your fee at any time.

For $7.99 per month, you can also choose to become an Aspiration Plus member and earn extra perks: A $200 welcome bonus when you spend $1,000 in the first 60 days, 5% APY interest on savings, 10% cashback on certain purchases, and a debit card made of recycled ocean plastic. That’s a load of benefits!

Whichever account you choose, there are no minimum balance requirements. There are no fees at over 55,000 ATMs and no fees for paper checks you receive when you open the account. You can’t overdraft on your Spend & Save Account, so you don’t have to worry about overdraft fees, either.

If you set up direct deposit, your money will get to your account up to 2 days early. There is a $10 opening deposit required.

Do Well. Do Good.

Aspiration has created a banking experience they hope will match your environmental values. This includes a pledge that deposits won’t fund fossil fuel exploration or production and providing a personal impact score to help you shop to match your values. Another cool feature we like is that with every “round up” purchase you make, Aspiration will plant a tree.

If you upgrade to the Aspiration Plus account, there are a host of “Planet Protection” features. For example, Aspiration will provide carbon offsets to match the calculated carbon output for every gas purchase you make. You’ll get 10% cash back on purchases from the “Conscience Coalition” which includes retailers such as Blue Apron, Warby Parker, Imperfect Foods, and Toms.

This is the only banking product we’ve reviewed that offers the opportunity for members to spend and save with an environmentally friendly purpose.

Banking Your Way

There’s a lot to like about Aspiration: With NO ChexSystems and NO credit check, getting an account is easy and the smartphone and online apps are beautifully organized. Plus, you get rewarded for spending smarter and making an impact on your own carbon footprint.

Open an Aspiration Account Today!

What Is a Bank Account For Bad Credit and How Does It Work?

A bank account for bad credit is often called a second chance bank account, and it’s a checking or savings account for an individual with bad credit. Most major banks will pull a credit report for new customers opening an account, and if their credit isn’t up to par, they are denied an account. This is often done to mitigate the risk of bounced checks, but it can be frustrating.

Bank accounts for those with bad credit operate just like traditional banks, but they have more lenient requirements for getting an account opened. You’ll need to comply with federal regulations regarding proof of identity and other disclosures, but in the end, your credit will not be a factor in whether or not you’re allowed to open an account.

Are Second Chance Banks Better Than Conventional Banks?

While they aren’t “better” per se, they are much easier to get an account with if you have bad credit. Sometimes what you need to get back on your feet is an actual bank account, and even if you’ll only have a paycheck in there until bills are paid, having the account is a security blanket itself.

Second chance bank accounts do come with some limitations, but in most cases, the benefits far outweigh those limitations. One such drawback is that in the case of most online second chance banks, they only offer checking, savings, and sometimes credit card services.

If you want to apply for a personal loan, home equity line of credit, or similar financial products, you’ll need to work with a bigger bank. This is the same for things like CDs or brokerage accounts, which are generally not among the financial products offered by online banks.

9 Things to Look For in a Checking Account

For those with bad credit who end up looking for a bank account, there are going to be a considerable amount of options out there. When it comes time to open an account, you may wonder how to pick one bank over another, and if there is going to be any advantage of one over another.

In most cases, you’ll be able to find a bank that meets your service needs while giving you economic benefits as well. We’re going to look at the top things you should look for in your next bank. You might be surprised at what one bank offers over another.

1. Fees

This is arguably one of the biggest things to take into account when shopping for the right bank account for your needs. If you have bad credit, you’re almost certainly no stranger to extra fees and added insurance. Even though you’re looking for a bank account for someone with bad credit, you shouldn’t be paying any sort of fees for your banking service.

There is too much competent competition in the banking arena for anyone to be charging fees for simple services, so if your new bank has any sort of fees for low balances, overdrafts, exceeding the “maximum” number of card transactions in a month, or any other ridiculous fees, look elsewhere.

2. Deposit Simplicity

If your bank is going to be largely online, you need to be absolutely sure they have a solid and reliable mobile deposit functionality. We all need to deal with paper checks occasionally, and if you can just snap a picture of both sides with your camera and upload it for a deposit, it makes life a whole lot easier.

3. Funds Availability

The funds’ availability is something that is starting to become relatively standard across second chance banking, but you’ll still find some banks that don’t offer versatile funds availability policies.

Some banks will clear ACH paycheck deposits up to 48 hours sooner than other banks. This means if you usually get paid on Fridays at 12:01 am, you could wake up Wednesday to that deposit. For those that live on tight budgets, these early-access policies can be important criteria for someone looking at new banks.

4. ATM Network

Most online banks feature robust ATM networks. ATMs that are “in-network” are usually the ones that you can use for no fees, which can save you a ton if you use ATMs with any frequency. Your bank may also offer an ATM fee refund as a promotion for a while or will give you a certain allowance of refunded transactions each month. See what perks are going to be best in the long run, when you may not be in-network or near any fee-free location.

5. Interest Rates

Let’s face it, nobody puts their money in a savings account to grow their wealth. However, if your new bank offers significantly higher savings or checking account interest rates, it can help the money you access regularly fight inflationary decay. It won’t be enough to retire on, but it might help offset a few months of the rising cost of living.

6. Mobile & Online Options

This is the age of everything digital, and that goes for your new bank accounts, and most of your bill payments as well. Be sure your next potential bank has a plethora of online, mobile, and overall digital options for accessing your account.

You should be able to safely and securely access your account information from a smartphone, as well as be able to accomplish more complex tasks on a desktop version of their site or app.

There will be very few instances where you will need to physically telephone someone, but if the need should arise, your new bank should also have a phone number that allows you to easily reach a human representative. Their interface should feature things like easy transfers of money, to those at the same bank and otherwise, as well as an easy way to authorize bill payment requests.

7. Minimum Deposit & Balance Requirements

One of the pitfalls of some online or second chance bank accounts is that they have hidden deposit or minimum balance requirements. Be on the lookout for these, and if your next potential bank has any form of them, you should probably keep looking. In the current banking climate, there is no legitimate reason that a bank account for those with bad credit would need a deposit or minimum balance.

Minimum balances and minimum deposit to open requirements are antiquated account requirements and are usually only seen on super-premium accounts now. In most cases, your new online bank will not charge any fees for low balances, which contributes to indebtedness.

8. Customer Service Ease & Results

There’s no use in sugarcoating it. At some point in your banking timeline, you’re going to need to talk to customer service. That single interaction can make you second-guess your entire decision-making process.

It’s important to be able to know that you’re working with a bank that has demonstrated urgency when dealing with customer issues. If there’s a problem that concerns your money, you want to make sure it’s going to get someone’s attention in minutes, not hours or days.

Many services use highly intelligent AI for their frontline customer service interactions. While this may already sound like it’s going to be frustrating, it can be a highly effective interface that gets you the information you need in milliseconds. When you have problems at 3 am, you should be able to get help from someone, somewhere, no matter if they are human or digital. Your next bank should have some sort of 24-hour customer service option.

9. Brick-And-Mortar Locations

It won’t happen often, and some can go decades without setting foot in a branch, but others need a physical branch or even a partner bank that they can visit. This is becoming less crucial as more mobile and virtual options become available. However, many people still prefer to be able to order their checks in person, for example, or use financial products not available through online banking.

In the case that your potential bank doesn’t have physical locations or partner banks that allow you to visit personally, see what alternatives your potential bank does offer. If you wanted to speak to someone about investments, for example, do they offer virtual consultations, or simply not offer the service? For more routine needs of cashier’s checks and similar services, do they have a digital option? These are important things to consider.

Tips to Help Improve Your Credit

Now that you have a bank account that can get you the financial services you need, it might be time to work on your credit. Here are some tips for getting your credit report in better shape, and raising that credit score.

  1. Pay off debt, but do it intelligently. Whether you start with the highest interest rate debt or the smallest debt to gain traction, come up with a plan and stick to it. This will make your debt-to-income ratio look better for lenders.
  2. Make all your payments on time. Your payment history is one of the things with the greatest effect on your credit, and it’s tracked for 7 years.
  3. Watch your utilization. Credit utilization is a percentage that represents how much credit you have available currently, of the total amount of credit that’s been extended to you. Ideally, you’ll want to be using 30% or less of your available credit.
  4. Mix up your credit types. A portion of your credit score depends on having a mix of credit types, not just a wallet full of credit cards. You should have revolving credit, like cards, as well as installment loans like auto or home loans.

Want A Local Bank or Credit Union? Here’s The List of Best Second Chance Banks and Credit Unions in Every State.

Unfortunately, most major banks don’t offer second chance checking. However, many community banks and credit unions have them under various names, such as Opportunity Checking and Fresh Start Checking.

Some banks and credit unions offer so-called second chance checking accounts to help people rebuild their credit and financial histories. These accounts usually carry monthly fees and come with a few other requirements, such as participating in a financial literacy or money management class. An account holder might also not be eligible for overdraft protection, since second chance banking serves as a way to prevent overdrawing an account altogether.

Conclusion

If you’ve had problems getting a traditional checking account due to bad credit, there are still options out there for you. Peruse and share our list of the best checking accounts for those with bad credit to anyone you think could benefit from it!


Additional Chime Disclaimers:  Back to Chime Review
Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services and debit card issued by The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, N.A.; Members FDIC. Credit Builder card issued by Stride Bank, N.A.

1Eligibility requirements apply. Overdraft only applies to debit card purchases and cash withdrawals. Limits start at $20 and may be increased up to $200 by Chime. See chime.com/spotme.
2Out-of-network ATM withdrawal fees may apply except at MoneyPass ATMs in a 7-Eleven, or any Allpoint or Visa Plus Alliance ATM. Cash deposit or other third-party fees may apply.
3Customers are limited to three $1,000 cash deposits at Walgreens each day and $10,000 each month.
4Sometimes instant transfers can be delayed. The recipient must use a valid debit card to claim funds. See your issuing bank’s Deposit Account Agreement for full Pay Friends Transfers details.
5The Annual Percentage Yield (“APY”) for the Chime Savings Account is variable and may change at any time. The disclosed APY is effective as of November 1, 2021. No minimum balance required. Must have $0.01 in savings to earn interest.
6Early access to direct deposit funds depends on the timing of the submission of the payment file from the payer. We 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.

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