4 best second-chance banks of 2022

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In a Nutshell

If you’ve run into problems with managing your bank account in the past, a second-chance bank can offer you another shot when you’re ready. Look for bank accounts like these with low fees and better features.
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More than 7 million people didn’t have a bank account in 2019, according to the FDIC.

Having a bank account can make it a lot easier to manage your money. Without one, you might have to pay extra fees to cash your checks, for example, and you might not be able to make payments on your bills or buy things as easily.

In the U.S., most banks use a system similar to credit reporting called ChexSystems in order to see if they trust you with a bank account. If not, they might deny your application. But luckily, if that’s happened to you, there are other options: second-chance bank accounts. You should shop around for a bank account carefully to be confident you’re getting a good fit. Know that these accounts often come with extra restrictions and fees.

Best second-chance bank accounts

Not all second-chance bank accounts are created equal. Some have better policies than others. Here are our top picks.

Best for no-fee banking: Chime

Why Chime stands out: Online-only neobanks are relatively new. Chime was one of the first on the scene, and it’s still one of the best. If you’re a fan of using online apps, you might prefer using Chime. And while Chime doesn’t advertise exclusively as a second-chance bank account, it still doesn’t use ChexSystems so you may be able to get an account if you’ve had problems in the past.

  • Fees — Chime doesn’t charge many of the common bank fees, like overdraft fees and monthly account-maintenance fees. It does charge $2.50 for out-of-network ATM withdrawals. But Chime’s ATM network has more than 60,000 ATMs around the country.
  • Overdraft program — If you have at least $200 in direct deposits per month, you’re eligible for Chime’s free SpotMe program that starts you off with a $20 overdraft limit and gradually raises it up to $200 if you demonstrate that you’re able to handle repaying it.
  • Early paychecks — If you enroll in direct deposit, Chime will make deposits available for you to use as soon as it receives notice from your workplace’s bank — which is often two days sooner than you’d otherwise be able to use it.

Learn more about Chime’s checking accounts in our review.

Best for in-person branch availability: Wells Fargo Clear Access

Why Wells Fargo Clear Access account stands out: Wells Fargo has been embroiled in a number of consumer protection battles over the years. But it does still remain a strong contender if you prefer to do your banking in person.

  • Number of branches — Wells Fargo operates more branch locations than almost any other bank, with almost 5,000 different locations across the country.
  • No overdrafts allowed — You’re not eligible for overdraft services with this account. If a purchase would overdraft your account, it’ll simply be declined. But then again, if you’ve run into problems racking up overdraft fees in the past, this may be a better option for you.
  • Fees — Unless you’re age 24 or under, you’ll owe a $5 monthly fee with this account, which isn’t ideal.

Best for ATM access: Capital One 360 Checking

Why Capital One 360 Checking stands out: This isn’t a second-chance account per se, but since Capital One doesn’t use ChexSystems as a banking report, it may be easier to get approved if you’ve had past problems. As long as you don’t mind banking online, it can be a better-than-average option.

  • ATM access — Capital One has just about the largest network of ATMs if you need to stick with a second-chance checking account. There are more than 70,000 locations to choose from — far more than the 55,000-machine Allpoint network that banks commonly use.
  • Fees — You won’t pay any monthly fees or overdraft fees with this account. Aside from less-common fees for items like wire transfers or cashier’s checks, you may face a $2 ATM fee if you use an out-of-network machine.
  • Overdraft options — You’ll have three options for how to deal with overdrafts, each of which is free. You can have overdrafts declined outright, have money transferred over from your savings or money market account to cover the shortfall, or give Capital One the option to cover the difference on a case-by-case basis (which you need to pay back right away).
  • Early paychecks — Capital One will make your paycheck available to spend up to two days early if you set it up as a direct deposit.

Best all-inclusive finance package: Acorns

Why Acorns stands out: You can use the finance company Acorns as your primary checking account if you like, but it’s a lot more than that. It’s designed as a complete all-in-one system for you to save and invest too. If you’ve been putting that off for a while and you need a shiny, well-designed system to help you get started, Acorns might be the right choice for you.

  • Many ways to save — Acorns offers creative ways to help you funnel more money towards your investment account. You can set up recurring deposits or even round up your purchases and deposit the difference in your investment account.
  • Quick investment picks — If you want help choosing investments, Acorns will guide you into one of five portfolios based on a good mix of low-cost funds.
  • Fees — Acorns charges $3 per month ($5 for a family plan) to access all of its features, including managing your investments and using your checking account.
  • ATM access — Acorns uses the Allpoint ATM network, meaning you’ll have access to more than 55,000 ATMs around the world. If you need to use one that’s not in-network, there’s no fee to do so on Acorn’s side but the machine’s owner might charge you a third-party fee.
  • Early paychecks — If you set up direct deposit of your paycheck into your Acorns checking account, it’ll be available for you to spend up to two days sooner than with other banks.

What is a second-chance bank account, and why should I use one?

If you’ve run into challenges in the past with managing your bank account, such as frequently overdrawing your balance, it’s possible that the bank noted this on your report through a company called ChexSystems. It works like a credit report, but for bank accounts.

When you apply for a new bank account, the bank will generally look up your ChexSystems report first. If the bank decides that your bank account management skills could use some work, it may deny you an account.

In that case, you may need to look for a second-chance bank account. These are more readily available if you’ve been denied from getting a bank account in the past. Since second-chance banking accounts are designed for people who’ve had problems with their bank account in the past, they’re usually not quite as desirable as regular bank accounts. Still, if you don’t currently have a bank account, they may be necessary.

What to consider when looking for a second-chance bank

Second-chance bank accounts aren’t quite as widespread as regular bank accounts. It’s a good idea to spend some time shopping around.

Here’s how to compare your options.

  • Low monthly fees — Second-chance banks may charge monthly fees. Shop around to find a bank with fees that you’re comfortable paying.
  • Ability to upgrade — Some second-chance banks allow you to upgrade to a regular bank account after you’ve gone a certain number of months without any problems.
  • Ease of use — If you prefer to bank in person, check with local banks to see if they offer second-chance accounts. If you prefer using an online bank, you’ll have plenty of options.
  • Restrictions — Make sure you know what the limits are on your account. For example, if you’re not allowed to overdraft your account or if you can’t write paper checks, you’ll need to know this so you can use it correctly.

About the author: Lindsay VanSomeren is a freelance writer living in Kirkland, Washington. She has been a professional dogsled racer, a wildlife researcher, and a participant in the National Spelling Bee. She writes for websites such a… Read more.