What Is a Good ChexSystems (Qualifile) Score?
Opening a checking account seems easy enough but there's one thing that could stand in your way: your ChexSystems score.
Your ChexSystems score is a score that banks use to determine whether to qualify you for a new account.
It's also called a QualiFile score and it's different from your credit score, which is what lenders use when approving you for new credit.
Banks use your ChexSystems score to try and predict how responsible you'll be with a new bank account, based on your past banking history.
It's not the same as your ChexSystems report, which banks can also look at when deciding whether to approve you for new accounts.
Wondering what your ChexSystems score is, or where it comes from? Read on to learn how these scores are calculated, what's a good ChexSystems score and how you can improve your ChexSystems rating.
What Is the ChexSystems Score?
Similar to a credit score, the ChexSystems score is a risk-scoring model. ChexSystems uses an undisclosed formula to gauge how well someone will use a bank account.
If you're applying for a loan, line of credit or credit card from a bank, they'll look at your credit score instead.
The ChexSystems (or QualiFile) score ranges from 100 to 899. The higher your score, the lower your risk profile. So the goal is to get as high a score as possible if you're planning to open a new bank account.
There are, however, some outlier scores or codes that can pop up when ChexSystems reviews your banking history.
For example, a 9998 code means that the Social Security number used to apply for a checking account belongs to someone who's deceased. A 9999 code means there's not enough information available about your banking history to generate a score.
One thing to keep in mind about ChexSystems scores. They're not the only scores banks can use to qualify you for a checking or savings account.
Banks can also look at reports from TeleCheck, which compiles information about your check transactions.
Early Warning Systems is another company that generates consumer banking activity reports for banks.
How to Check Your Own ChexSystems Score
Banks aren't the only ones who can review your ChexSystems score. You can also request it yourself directly from ChexSystems.
Here's how to get your ChexSystems score:
1. Go to the ChexSystems website and download the Score Order Form
2. Fill out the form and either mail it or fax it back to ChexSystems at:
- Consumer Relations
7805 Hudson Rd Suite 100
Woodbury, MN 55125
Fax: (602) 659-2197
It's pretty simple to do. Once your request has been received, ChexSystems will mail you a response within 15 business days.
On average, it takes about 5 days to receive a response, according to the ChexSystems website.
There are some key pieces of information to include on the form. You'll need to provide:
- Your full name
- Social Security number
- Date of birth
You'll also need to sign and date the form. You have to be at least 18 to request your ChexSystems score.
If you want to request a score for a minor, you have to mail in a written request, along with:
- A notarized copy of the minor's birth certificate
- A legible copy of their Social Security card
- A legible copy of your driver's license or state-issued ID card
- Proof of address (such as a pay stub or utility bill)
- A copy of a legal document confirming your legal guardianship if you're not the minor's parent
You can get your ChexSystems score once per year for free.
If you need to check it more often than that, ChexSystems charges a fee of $10.50 for each additional score.
You can pay that fee using a money order or personal check.
The law also allows you to get your ChexSystems score for free, either through the bank or by letter, if your application for a new account was rejected.
If the bank makes your score available, they also have to tell whether any other consumer scores were used in their decision, any factors that negatively affected your score and when your score was calculated.
What's a Good ChexSystems Score?
With traditional credit scores, there's usually a range of what's considered good or bad.
ChexSystems, however, doesn't operate that way. And, ChexSystems doesn't reveal its formula for calculating scores.
In other words, there's no way to know for sure if a score of 500 is good enough to make you a lock for a checking account.
We did some research and found consumers who had been denied for checking accounts with scores of 174, 295 and 553.
We also talked to one banker who said that a "safe score" which would make you likely for approval is 581 or better.
As a general rule, a higher score means you're less likely to default on your account in the bank's eyes.
Banks don't want to take a risk on customers who may be more likely to run their account into the red or let fees pile up unpaid.
Generally, the information used to create your ChexSystems score comes from several different sources. Those include:
- Your ChexSystems consumer report
- Your Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit reports
- Your work history
- Public records data
Does Everyone Have a ChexSystems Score?
It's absolutely possible not to have a ChexSystems score.
If you've always practiced good banking habits, there may be no negative data on file that could be used to generate a score.
You're more likely to have a ChexSystems score if you've ever had a bank account closed because of non-sufficient funds, excessive overdrafts or suspected fraud.
The negative impact on your score can be worse if you have a closed account that has an outstanding balance of fees due.
Something else to know: it's possible to have a poor ChexSystems score and a good credit score.
That's because the information that's used to determine each score doesn't necessarily cross over between your ChexSystems report and your credit report.
Can ChexSystem Scores Be Inaccurate?
ChexSystems scores are based on a variety of information sources. If your financial details from those sources are incorrect, that can be reflected in your score.
If you think your ChexSystems score is incorrect because of an error, you have the right to dispute it with ChexSystems.
You can submit your dispute online or mail or fax a Request for Investigation form to the same address and fax number you used to order your score.
Dispute investigations are usually completed within 30 days, with a shorter window of 21 days for Maine residents.
The time frame may be extended by 15 days if you have to provide additional documentation or information to support your dispute claim.
Once ChexSystems finishes their investigation, they'll send you a letter detailing the results.
What You Can Do to Improve Your ChexSystems Score
If your ChexSystems score isn't where you'd like it to be, there are some things you can do to try and improve it.
First, know what's in your report and what could be hurting your score.
This can clue you in on the behaviors that could be keeping your score from increasing. That includes things like:
- Bouncing checks
- Racking up substantial overdraft fees
- Opening or closing accounts too often
- Engaging in suspected fraud or illegal activity
Next, focus on addressing the negative remarks on your report which could be dragging our score down.
If you've got a negative balance, for example, pay off anything you owe to the bank to clear the debt.
Then, ask the bank to report the paid off account to ChexSystems. It won't erase the negative mark completely, but it could give your score a boost.
Finally, work on avoiding banking behaviors that could hurt your score. If you've struggled with overdrafts in the past, for instance, consider opting in for your bank's overdraft protection service.
Set up alerts to notify you when your balance is getting low, and use a budgeting app to track your spending.
Consider a Second Chance Account If You've Been Denied
Second chance checking accounts are designed for people who have had trouble with banking in the past. These accounts are meant to give you a fresh start and be a stepping stone to a regular bank account.
But where can you find second chance checking accounts? Start by checking with the major banks in your area. Some--not all--of the largest U.S. banks offer second chance accounts.
Next, consider what's available with your local regional or community banks. Smaller banks can be a great place to find second chance checking, as well as other accounts designed for people who may not have the best credit.
Finally, scope out your credit union options for second chance checking.
Once you've rounded up a short list of second chance checking candidates, compare the fees and features for each account to see which one offers the best value.
And be sure to look at whether you can eventually move from second chance checking to a regular checking account, and what you'll need to do to make the transition.
A good ChexSystems score can make it easier to open a new checking account.
Being aware of your score and what's in your ChexSystems consumer can be a big help in finding the bank and the checking account that's right for you.