Best Second-Chance Bank Accounts [2024]

BANKING - CHECKING ACCOUNTS
These accounts typically don’t require ChexSystems reports or credit checks.
Updated Feb. 13, 2024
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If you’ve struggled financially, and those struggles have impacted your banking and credit history, some banks may refuse to let you open an account with them. In that case, your only option would be to find a second-chance bank, and sometimes those banks charge high fees and have stricter requirements for higher-risk customers.

However, there are second-chance banks that will let you open an account without considering your past financial discretions, won’t charge you any fees, or require that you maintain a certain balance. Our top picks include SoFi, Chime®, and Varo.1

Let’s look at our picks for the best bank accounts for a second chance.

In this article

Key takeaways

  • Our top picks include SoFi, Chime, and Varo.
  • Second-chance banks usually don’t require ChexSytems reports or credit checks to open an account.
  • The best second-chance banks have little to no fees.
  • You can open a second-chance bank account with no initial deposit.

The 6 best second-chance banks

Best second-chance banks comparison

Best for Monthly maintenance fee Minimum opening deposit APY
SoFi Checking and Savings High-yield checking and savings accounts $0 $0 0.50% (as of Jan. 30, 2024) on checking and up to 4.60% on savings with direct deposit23
Chime Automatic savings $0 $0 2.00% (as of Oct. 25, 2023) on savings (Note: savings can’t be opened without a checking account)456
Varo Rebuilding credit $0 $0 5.00% (as of Mar. 19, 2024) with direct deposit
Go2bank Overdraft protection $5 without direct deposit $0 4.50% (as of Mar. 19, 2024) on savings up to $5,000
Wells Fargo Clear Access Checking Branch access $5 (waived for customers aged 13-24) $25 N/A
Capital One 360 Checking Traditional checking account $0 $0 0.10% (as of Jan. 10, 2024) on checking

SoFi Checking and Savings

Pros
  • High APY of up to 4.60% on savings accounts with direct deposit
  • 0.50% (as of Jan. 30, 2024) APY on checking accounts with direct deposit
  • No monthly fees
  • No minimum balance requirements
Cons
  • Requires direct deposit or deposits of at least $5,000 every 30 days for high APY
  • No physical branches
  • ATM transactions limited to $1,000 per day

SoFi is an entirely online bank that offers interest-bearing savings and checking accounts. We like that customers with direct deposit can earn up to 4.60% APY on SoFi savings accounts and 0.50% (as of Jan. 30, 2024) APY on checking accounts, which is considerably higher than the national standard.

This makes SoFi the best checking account among second-chance banks. The bank doesn’t charge monthly fees or have minimum balance requirements either.

SoFi is a good option for people looking for a second-chance bank because it doesn’t consider your ChexSystems report as a requirement to open an account. You can also earn up to 15% cash back on purchases from select businesses when you use a SoFi debit card.

SoFi is FDIC insured.7

Visit SoFi | Read our full SoFi Checking and Savings review

Chime

Pros
  • No monthly fees
  • No minimum deposit
  • No fees for overdrafts, transfers, or foreign transactions
  • Round Ups feature helps you save money
Cons
  • Limited to opening only one account
  • There are no physical branches, only accessible via a mobile app
  • APY on savings is on the low end

Chime is not a bank; it’s a financial technology company. It’s perfect for those looking to rebuild their financial history because Chime doesn’t look at your credit history or ChexSystems report as factors for you to open an account. There’s no minimum balance requirement to open a Chime Checking account, and the company doesn’t charge fees for monthly maintenance, transfers, overdrafts, or foreign transactions.

If you have difficulty saving money, the Chime’s Save When You Spend round-up program helps you save automatically on everything you pay for with your Chime debit card.8 Every transaction is rounded to the nearest dollar, and the extra money is automatically transferred to your Chime savings account.

You can also set up your Chime Checking account to transfer a percentage of your paycheck directly into your savings account.9

Chime is FDIC insured through its partner banks, The Bancorp Bank, N.A. and Stride Bank, N.A.

Visit Chime | Read our full Chime review

Varo

Pros
  • No monthly fees or minimum balance requirements
  • High 5.00% (as of Mar. 19, 2024) APY on savings accounts with direct deposit
  • It doesn’t pull credit or ChexSystems reports for new accounts
Cons
  • Direct deposit is required for high APY on savings
  • 5.00% (as of Mar. 19, 2024) APY earnings capped at $5,000

Like other accounts on this list, Varo lets you open a bank account without considering your credit history or ChexSystems report. It also offers an online checking account, and there are no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements on Varo accounts.

We like that if you set up a direct deposit of at least $1,000 per month, you can earn 5.00% (as of Mar. 19, 2024) APY on up to $5,000 with a Varo high-yield savings account, provided that your Varo accounts end each month with a positive balance. The downside to this high-yield account is that the 5.00% (as of Mar. 19, 2024) APY is capped at $5,000.

Varo is FDIC insured.

Visit Varo | Read our full Varo review

Go2bank

Pros
  • No minimum balance is required to open an account
  • It doesn’t pull credit or ChexSystems reports for accounts
  • Provides up to $200 in overdraft protection10
Cons
  • $5 monthly fee without direct deposit
  • Charges fees up to $4.95 for cash deposits
  • Charges $3 for out-of-network ATM withdrawals
  • A $15 fee is charged if overdraft balances aren’t paid off within 24 hours

We think one of the most attractive things about Go2bank is its overdraft protection coverage, which at $200, is higher than you’ll find at other banks. However, make sure you read the fine print. Overdraft balances must be paid off within 24 hours, or Go2bank will charge you a $15 fee.

Like other options on this list, Go2bank doesn’t require a ChexSystems report or credit check, and you don’t need a minimum balance to start. Go2bank’s high-yield savings accounts earn 4.50% (as of Mar. 19, 2024) on up to $5,000 in savings, which is competitive with other online banks.

A significant downside to Go2bank is that it has a lot of fees you don’t find at other banks. You must have your payroll or government benefits directly deposited to avoid the $5 monthly fee on accounts. It will also cost you to deposit cash into your account or withdraw money from an out-of-network ATM.

So if you like Go2bank’s overdraft protection, make sure you meet its requirements to minimize fees.

Go2bank is FDIC insured through Green Dot Bank.

Visit Go2bank | Read our full Go2bank review

Wells Fargo Clear Access Checking

Pros
  • No daily minimum balance is required
  • No overdraft fees
  • Thousands of branches
  • Good account for teens and college students
Cons
  • $25 is required to open an account
  • $5 monthly service fee (unless you meet waiver requirements)
  • Overdraft protection is not available

We like Wells Fargo’s Clear Access Checking account because it’s the only one at a brick-and-mortar bank with a significant number of branches. One downside, though, is its $5 monthly service fee. However, the monthly service fee is waived for customers between ages 13 and 24 as well as those with a Wells Fargo Campus ATM Card or Campus Debit Card linked to their account or who receive monthly non-civilian military direct deposits through the Wells Fargo Worldwide Military Banking program.

You will need an initial deposit of at least $25 to open a Wells Fargo Clear Access Checking account, but after that, there is no daily minimum balance required.

Although Wells Fargo promotes that the Clear Access Checking account doesn’t have overdraft fees, if you read the fine print, you’ll find the reason is that overdraft protection isn’t available on the account. Overdraft transactions typically aren’t authorized on the account, but Wells Fargo won’t charge a fee for rejecting those transactions.

Wells Fargo is FDIC insured.

Visit Wells Fargo Clear Access Checking

Capital One 360 Checking

Pros
  • No initial deposit is required to open an account
  • No monthly service fees
  • No minimum balance requirements
  • No overdraft fees
  • Local branches and Cafés are available for in-person assistance
Cons
  • Charges fees for cashier’s checks, outgoing wire transfers, and printed checks

We think Capital One’s 360 Checking account is a good overall bank account whether you need a second-chance account or not. You can open a 360 Checking account with no initial deposit, but you must deposit some money within 60 days to keep the account open.

With Capital One 360 Checking, there are no fees for monthly maintenance, overdrafts, foreign transactions, or minimum balance requirements. Plus, it earns 0.10% (as of Jan. 10, 2024) APY. If you like to do your banking in person, Capital One operates branches and cafes in select areas across the country.

Capital One 360 isn’t completely fee-free checking. Like most banks, it charges fees for cashiers' checks, outgoing wire transfers, and printed checks.

Visit Capital One | Read our full Capitol One 360 Checking review

How to choose the best second-chance bank

When looking for the best second-chance bank to open an account, you should consider the following factors.

  • Fees: Banks may charge higher fees for second-chance accounts because of the higher risk. Look for second-chance banks that don’t charge monthly fees or fees for other things like foreign transactions and overdrafts.
  • Minimum balance requirements: Consider banks that don’t require you to carry a minimum balance and that allow you to open an account with a minimal initial deposit.
  • Interest-bearing accounts: Have your money work for you with an account that earns interest. Several banks offer high-yield savings accounts that earn over 4.50% APY, and some banks, like Capital One and SoFi, even have checking accounts that earn interest.
  • Programs to improve your financial well-being: If you need a second-chance bank, you likely have negative marks in your banking and credit history. Some of the best second-chance banks provide savings plans or credit card programs that can help rebuild your credit.
  • Convenience: Does it offer features you use like online and mobile banking, online bill pay, and mobile check deposit?

Tip
You may want to check out local banks and credit unions to see if they have any second-chance banking options as well.

FAQ about second-chance banks

Can I open a bank account if I owe another bank money?

You may be able to open a new bank account if you owe another bank money. It depends on the bank, however.

Many banks won’t let you open an account if you owe money to another bank. When you apply to open a bank account, banks often look at your credit and banking history. If you’ve had a lot of overdrafts, unpaid balances, bounced checks, or suspected fraudulent activity, you could be denied a bank account.

However, second-chance banks are more likely to allow you to open a bank account even if you owe another bank money because they don’t consider your credit and banking history as factors for opening an account.

What is ChexSystems?

ChexSystems is a financial reporting company that provides banking history reports to banks and financial institutions. ChexSystems’s reports include negative activity on bank accounts like bounced checks, unpaid balances, suspected fraud, and overdrafts.

Much like credit card companies look at your credit history in deciding whether to give you a credit card, many banks look at the ChexSystems’s reports to determine if they will allow you to open a bank account.

Can I open a second-chance checking account online?

Yes, several online banks allow you to open a second-chance checking account online. SoFi, Varo, Chime, and GO2bank are online financial companies where you can apply to open an account online.

Best second-chance banks: bottom line

If you’ve been denied opening a bank account due to a negative account balance, unpaid fees, or another issue and need to bring your banking history into good standing, you’ll likely need a second-chance bank account at a bank or credit union.

While many second-chance bank accounts come with higher fees because of the high risk involved, there are second-chance banks where you can find accounts with minimal fees and balance requirements.

Of the six second-chance banks we’ve looked at, SoFi is the best bank account for a second chance. While SoFi is similar to the other second-chance banks in that it has no fees, minimum initial deposit, or daily balance requirements, the high APY SoFi offers on both its savings and checking accounts make it stand out from the rest.

Methodology

The companies we chose for our best second-chance bank account list may be current or past FinanceBuzz partners. We did not review all companies in the market. When evaluating these companies, we considered factors such as monthly maintenance fees, minimum opening deposit, and APY.

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Author Details

Danielle Letenyei Danielle Letenyei is a professional writer living in Madison, Wisconsin. Her interests include budgeting, travel, credit cards, insurance, and creative side gigs. She hopes her work on these topics can help others navigate the intricate landscape of personal finance.

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