Second Chance Checking Account

Getting a regular checking account can be difficult when you have previous problems with banks. In this article, I analyze the best checking accounts from the nation’s largest banks that give you a “second chance.” I review each account’s monthly fees and features before selecting the best overall second chance checking account that’s worth your consideration.

Nearly 10 million American households do not have a regular checking or savings account, according to the FDIC. It is partially due to bad banking history (such as writing bad checks or unpaid overdrafts) that is recorded under someone’s ChexSystems report.

Banks have different ways to address this issue. Some banks may stop relying heavily on ChexSystems reports to determine if someone is eligible to get a checking account. Other banks offer second chance checking accounts that cater to customers with negative ChexSystems reports.

Before diving into the accounts, here’s a brief refresher on ChexSystems:

A guide to ChexSystems

  • In the same way that credit reports track your history with loans and lines of credit, a ChexSystems report records your history with banks accounts, specifically negative activity
  • Common examples of negative activity include constant overdrafts, returned checks, account abuse, check fraud, and more. Each record stays on file for five years unless you dispute inaccurate information.
  • You can obtain a free ChexSystems report every year from
This sample ChexSystems report shows that this person has an overdraft problem.
This sample ChexSystems report shows that this person has an overdraft problem.

Second Chance Checking Accounts

Of the top 10 banks in the U.S. by deposits, only one of them (Wells Fargo) provide actual second chance checking accounts. Three other banks (Chase,  PNC Bank, BB&T) offer prepaid debit card accounts in lieu of second chance checking accounts.

Now, here’s the interesting tidbit. Another three banks (Capital One, Citibank, and U.S. Bank) said it won’t deny your checking account application solely based on a negative ChexSystems report. Essentially, you can apply for any account at one of these banks and your ChexSystems report won’t have a major effect on the account-opening decision unless there is a very obvious case of fraud on your part.

Since it doesn’t make sense for someone with a bad banking history to go for a more expensive checking account, let’s focus on the basic checking accounts from these banks.

The following accounts were listed because they are ideal for people with bad ChexSystems reports. The banks may still choose to pull your reports for review.

Here are the accounts from the top 10 banks that I analyzed:

Bank of America®, TD Bank, and SunTrust — the three remaining big banks — do not offer second-chance checking accounts or similar alternatives.

Checking Accounts Fees & Features

Wells Fargo Opportunity Checking

A second chance checking account that has a $10 monthly fee (add $2 per month for paper statements). The fee is waived in the months that you make 10 debit card purchases, or keep a $2,000 daily balance, or post a total of $750 in direct deposits.

All in all, it is everything that you’d expect from any other basic checking accounts except for one thing: you cannot make deposits at an ATM — you must visit a Wells Fargo teller or initiate the deposit electronically. Also, the account can only be opened by visiting a branch.

PNC SmartAccess Prepaid Visa

A prepaid card account that has a $5 monthly fee. The fee cannot be waived.

This is prepaid card account that performs very much like a checking account — except you cannot write checks. You’ll still be able to pay bills through online bill pay. You have a prepaid card that lets you make purchases. However, you will never be allowed to overdraw your account. Any transactions that will lead to a negative balance will be rejected.

Chase Liquid

A prepaid card account with a $4.95 monthly fee. It can be avoided only when linked to a Chase checking account.

Although it is advertised as a prepaid card account, it bears great resemblance to Chase’s basic checking account. The account’s fee summary lists out the services that are not available with Chase Liquid. They include: check-writing, online bill pay, Chase QuickPay (person-to-person payments) and wire transfers. As a Chase customer, I can vouch for those great features. Not having access to them would be a major inconvenience.

BB&T MoneyAccount

A prepaid card account with a $5 monthly fee. The fee drops to $3 if you deposit or load at least $1,000 during the previous month. There’s an additional $3 for paper statements.

It’s a prepaid account that lacks check-writing capabilities. And, cardmembers cannot use the ATM to make deposits — you must go to a BB&T teller to conduct deposit transactions. However, you do get to use online bill pay.

Capital One 360 Checking

An online checking account with no monthly fee.

You can write checks, pay bills online and make person-to-person payments. In addition to free access to all Capital One ATMs, you also get free access to 38,000 ATMs under the Allpoint ATM network. To top it off, your deposits earn interest (see other interest checking accounts out there). The biggest caveat to the account is that you cannot use a Capital One teller to perform transactions. For the perks and no monthly fees, I think it’s a very acceptable tradeoff.

Citibank Basic Checking

A regular checking account that has a $12 monthly fee. It can be avoided with one direct deposit plus one bill payment per month, or with an average $1,500 balance in the checking account or a linked Citibank savings account.

A typical basic checking account that lets you write checks, make online bill payments and offers free access to all Citibank branches and ATM.

U.S. Bank Easy Checking

A regular checking account with a $6.95 monthly fee (add $2 per month for paper statements). The fee can be waived with total direct deposits of $1,000 or an average balance of $1,500 per month.

Another typical basic checking account lets you write checks, make online bill payments and offers free access to all U.S. Bank branches and ATM.

Best Pick: Capital One 360 Checking

Capital One 360 Checking stands as one of the best checking account for people with bad ChexSystems reports. Boasting a long list of beneficial perks with no annual fee, it’s hard to beat.

Add on the fact that Capital One doesn’t rely heavily on ChexSystems and you’ve got a great “second-chance” checking account even though it is not designed for that purpose.

With no monthly fee, the Capital One 360 Checking account is just too good of an option for people that have a bad ChexSystems report. You’re getting the same account as someone with a clean ChexSystems report — for no monthly cost. I can’t see how you can do better than that.

Other options to consider

Honorable mentions go to Chase Liquid and U.S. Bank Easy Checking because they are solid choices for anyone who still wants to bank at branches. With Chase Liquid, you are paying the lowest monthly fee of the bunch. With U.S. Bank Easy Checking, I feel that you get the best set of fee-waiver options among the group.

Second chance checking account fees compared

AccountMonthly feeFee waiver
Wells Fargo Opportunity Checking$10 (or $12 with paper statements)Make 10 debit card purchases, or keep a $2,000 daily balance, or post a total of $750 in direct deposits.
PNC SmartAccess Prepaid Visa$5Cannot be waived.
Chase Liquid$4.95Cannot be waived.
BB&T MoneyAccount$5 (or $3 with $1,000 load during previous month)Cannot be waived.
Capital One 360 Checking$0Not applicable.
Citibank Basic Checking$12Post 1 direct deposit + 1 bill payment, or keep a $1,500 balance
U.S. Bank Easy Checking$6.95 (or $8.95 with paper statements)Post total direct deposits of $1,000, or keep a $1,500 balance.

I gave honorable mentions to Citibank Basic Checking and U.S. Bank Easy Checking because, in the end, you want to closest thing to a checking account. These two accounts are actual checking accounts with great leniency when it comes to bad ChexSystems reports.

Second chance checking account features compared

AccountNoteworthy featuresCan you write checks?
Wells Fargo Opportunity CheckingCannot make deposits at a Wells Fargo ATM.Yes.
PNC Foundation CheckingSubject to $100 daily limit on ATM withdrawals and debit card purchases. Money orders only cost $0.49 each.Yes.
Chase LiquidNo online bill pay, Chase Quickpay or wire transfers.No.
BB&T MoneyAccountCannot make deposits at BB&T ATMs. Online bill pay is available.No.
Capital One 360 CheckingAccess to online bill pay and person-to-person transfers. Free access to Capital One and Allpoint ATMs. Deposits earn interest. You cannot use Capital One tellers.Yes.
Citibank Basic CheckingFree access to online bill pay and all Citibank branches and ATMs.Yes.
U.S. Bank Easy CheckingFree access to online bill pay and all U.S. Bank branches and ATMs.Yes.

Noteworthy Tips

Online bill pay is the same as check-writing

When you use online bill pay, the bank writes the check and sends it off for you. Technically, if you put a person’s name as a payee, the bank will still send a check to that payee. So, even if you can’t write checks, you can use online bill pay (works with the BB&T MoneyAccount, for instance).

Be ready for disadvantages of prepaid cards

If you prefer to go the prepaid route, you may be able to have your paycheck automatically deposited to the card but what happens if someone writes you a personal check? You could try taking it to the bank the check was issued from, but without an account, they will most likely charge you a fee. There are plenty of check cashing services out there but you’ll also have to cough up a fee to use them.

Ask for an account upgrade after six months

Chase and PNC Bank will allow Liquid and Foundation Checking customers, respectively, to upgrade to a regular checking account if they can show good banking activity in the past six months. If you’ve had an account for that long, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Other Checking Accounts That Don’t Rely on ChexSystems

With more than 7,000 banks in the U.S., there are bound to be more banks out there that are more forgiving of negative marks on ChexSystems reports. Here are some smaller U.S. banks that also provide checking accounts to people with bad banking histories:

  • Bank of Arkansas Opportunity Checking
  • BBVA Compass Easy Checking
  • CenterState Bank Fresh Start Checking
  • Fort Sill National Bank (all accounts)
  • Great Western Bank
  • Peoples Bank (Paris, TX)
  • Rio Bank Fresh Start Checking
  • Santander Bank (all accounts)
  • Urban Trust Bank Opportunity Checking
  • USAA Free Checking
  • Washington Savings Bank Rewards Card Checking
  • Woodforest Bank Second Chance Checking
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Ask a Question

  • john kelly

    Having been in the position with a chex system negative report, i would like to add two banks that immediately opened checking accounts without chex system inquires. they are :Peoples Bank in Paris, Texas , opened online, and Great western Bank in 4 or 5 midwestern states. i had to visit a branch to open account, then banked online.

    • Simon Zhen

      John, thanks for sharing those banks with us! I’ve updated the list in the post.

      If anyone knows of any other banks that offer second-chance checking or don’t use ChexSystems, please leave a comment. I’d be glad to update this list in an effort to make it the best resource for everyone in search of second-chance checking or a bank that doesn’t rely too much on ChexSystems.

      • Ron Fleming

        I would also note that in many cases, Capital One will actually open a standard Rewards Checking account even to customers with ChexSystems records. Assuming you set up direct deposit to waive the minimum fees, this is an excellent option in comparison to most second chance-type accounts.

        • Simon Zhen

          Ron, good data points. Are you (or were you) a Capital One associate? Or do you know people who’ve gotten these accounts with ChexSystems records?

          • Ron Fleming

            I myself had a Chexsystems record from several years ago when someone wrote me a fraudulent check that I (unkowingly) tried to deposit against my Bank of America account. They have refused to give me any way to resolve it and it’s been an obstacle for me ever since, but Capital One allowed me to open a standard Rewards Checking account with no restrictions.

            • Selena

              SAME EXACT situation! I am currently trying to fight the negative report, or have it listed as some sort of “lesser” offense. Well see…
              But very excited to give Citi and Cap one a try tomorrow morning- having been denied from almost every other bank!

              • Selena, following up here. Any success with Citibank or Capital One?

                • Bill

                  I got denied by Citi. Letter, mailed, said it was because of Chex. Called branch, and they indicated they don’t do the second chance account anymore.

                  Had polite conversation with PNC and Cap One. I will let you know how that goes. Also, looking for a business account if anyone has any tips.

                  • Bill, thanks for the data point. Citi is one of the banks that will simply consider you for their basic checking account even if you have a ChexSystems record.

                    Hope you have better luck with PNC and Capital One! Very interested in which account you end up with.

  • dvcmbrokw

    Also CenterState Bank (in Florida) – they have a “Fresh Start” checking.

    • Simon Zhen

      Thanks! I’d updated the list with this info.

  • analyzethis

    Chase will close a Liquid account if you are in Early Warning – that’s been posted about here and there on the net in forums that deal with Chex and Early Warning.

    Your Santander info seems to be verified since I know someone who got an account with them and they were in EW and Chex. Santander is really trying to raise their deposit amounts whereas a lot of the very big banks are trying to lower theirs to lower their ‘too big to fail’ numbers/Dodd Frank

    • Simon Zhen

      Hmm… Would it make more sense for Chase to use Early Warning to prohibit qualification for a Liquid account in the first place? Unless there’s some sort of activity on the Chase Liquid account that justifies account closure if the infraction goes to Early Warning.

      • analyzethis

        That would be a question to ask Chase since I can’t answer for them. I just posted the fact.

  • Buda

    @Simon Zhen Thank you so much I just opened a Capital One 360 checking account with no hassle. Its the best product out there for second chance. No fees and a real checking account. You have 60 days to fund it from when its opened. I don’t know if it was way so easy because I have a Capital one Credit card but this is the best 2nd chance product.
    I see people talking about the Chase liquid but thats a prepaid debit card its not a true checking account.

    • Simon Zhen

      Buda, glad that this post helped you find the right “second chance” checking account!

    • Mary

      I got denied on capital one just now? Any other suggestions?

  • maraline none

    I had a checking account in bank of America
    I use my card for gas and then a week later removed my money n call them so my account can be close what i didnt know was that my account got overdraft n they reported me as fraud to chexsytem n now i need a checking account does anybody know if i can get a second chance account with well fargo?

  • Kate

    @SimonMBT:disqus Thanks for providing this information! I spoke with Etta @PNCBank approximately 5 minutes ago. PNC denies that they provide this or any other second chance banking service. She stated PNC hasn’t provided this Foundation Checking service for over 4 years now. Call recorded and can be provided for your reference.

    • Thanks for noting that. We’ve updated to article to reflect the change.

  • Malika Gordon

    PNC Bank now have a smart access prepaid card. Similar features as a checking account. Monthly service fee of $5.