best second chance checking accounts

The 7 Best Second Chance Checking Accounts

I’ve had a checking account since college; it’s hard to imagine living without one. However, getting approved for a traditional checking account is impossible for some people. That’s where a second-chance checking account can help.

The best second-chance checking accounts allow you to make purchases without charging ridiculous fees (all accounts below are FDIC-insured). Banks not using ChexSystems allow consumers to apply for second-chance checking accounts online and provide instant acceptance.

The Best Second Chance Checking Accounts

Checking AccountBest Feature
Chime Spend AccountSpot Me
SoFi Checking$300 Bonus
mph.Bank FreshPaid 2 Days Early
VaroCash Advance
CapOne 360 CheckingMobile App
Wells Fargo Clear Access BankingNo Overdraft Fees
LendingClub Bank Rewards CheckingATM Fee Rebates

1. Chime Checking Account


The Chime Checking Account is our list’s best second-chance checking account because it does everything well. There’s no monthly fee, minimum balance required, or overdraft fees. You can use your debit card at more than 60,000 fee-free ATMs.

The Chime app affords everyone instant transaction alerts, the ability to block your card with a single tap, and 24/7 live customer support. My favorite feature is “Spot Me,” where you can overdraw your account by up to $200, and Chime will cover the transaction. Of course, you’ll have to pay this back promptly, but the payments are not charged interest or fees.

Our two favorite additional Chime products:

2. SoFi Checking


SoFi Checking is the only account on our list with a sign-up bonus. When you open an account and deposit at least $5,000 in the first 25 days, you’ll receive a $300 bonus. If you deposit between $1,000 and $4,999, you’ll earn a $50 bonus. The bonus expires 12/31/2024. SoFi Checking has no overdraft fees, no monthly service fees, and no in-network ATM fees.

With SoFi Checking, you’ll earn a 0.50% APY on your cash. The SoFi app is also set up to show you special retailers where you can earn up to 15% cash back when you use your SoFi debit card.

Our two favorite additional SoFi products:

3. mph.Bank Fresh

mph bank

The mph.Bank Fresh digital checking account allows you to improve your financial standing without worrying about a Chexsystem report. You’ll have access to 55,000 Allpoint ATMs free of charge and the ability to round up your purchases to start saving immediately.

With all mph.Bank checking products, you’ll earn a 1.00% APY. The Fresh digital checking account also includes Zelle integration so that you can send and receive money with friends quickly and safely. A $9 monthly fee is waived for all account holders for the first two months.

Our two favorite additional mph.Bank products:

  • mph.Bank Free – Requires a monthly direct deposit of $500 or more but is completely fee-free.
  • mph.Bank First – Perfect for the teenager in your household who needs to learn a bit about financial responsibility.

4. Varo


Varo has become an all-in-one app that offers a spending account without a monthly fee. You can deposit checks, link accounts, and send money to anyone you want (no matter what bank they have). You can also use Zelle if you prefer.

A big perk of the spending account is that you can access your cash at more than 40,000 ATMs without a fee. When you set up your direct deposit with Varo, you’ll be paid up to two days early, and you can even qualify to receive up to a $250 cash advance to spot you before your next payday.

Our two favorite additional Varo products:

5. Cap One 360 Checking

capital one

Cap One 360 Checking offers a basic checking account that includes moving your money to external accounts through Zelle and the ability to visit a branch or Capital One cafe to ask for help (or open a new account). There are never any overdraft fees with this account, no matter the protection you choose.

The Capital One 360 Checking mobile app is my favorite of all the apps on this list and one I use personally. It allows you to deposit checks easily, receive instant alerts to any transactions across your account, and immediately freeze your debit card if necessary. This checking account also includes access to more than 70,000 fee-free ATMs.

Our two favorite additional Capital One products:

6. Wells Fargo Clear Access Banking

wells fargo

Wells Fargo Clear Access Banking is designed for those looking for their first bank account or those with poor credit and banking history. You’ll have free access to 11,000 Wells Fargo ATMs, and like Cap One 360 above, you’ll have access to support at physical Wells Fargo bank branches.

Clear Access Banking offers features like mobile deposit, biometric authentication, and Zelle. There is no monthly maintenance fee if you’re under 24 years old. Otherwise, the fee is $5. This account’s best feature is that it never charges an overdraft fee.

Our two favorite additional Wells Fargo products:

7. LendingClub Bank Rewards Checking

lendingclub bank

LendingClub Bank rounds out our list with an excellent checking product focusing on cash back. LendingClub Bank Rewards Checking offers 1% cash back on all purchases made with your debit card. Even with cash back, the best feature of this account is its policy of rebating all ATM fees received from other banks, and they’ll never charge you one).

Rewards Checking charges no standard fees, including monthly maintenance fees, overdraft fees, or incoming wire transfer fees. When you set up a direct deposit with LendingClub, you’ll be eligible to receive your money up to two days early.

Our two favorite additional LendingClub Bank products:

What to Look for in a Second Chance Checking Account

No Monthly Fees

If you’re trying to get back on track financially, you don’t want to have to spend any of your hard-earned money on managing a basic bank account. Many banks agree with that sentiment, providing completely fee-free options. The fact that there are so many attainable options out there is another compelling reason never to pay a monthly fee. 

Easy to Maintain

One of the easiest ways to rack up fees when you don’t have a lot of cash flow is by not maintaining an account minimum. Keeping a monthly balance can be very difficult if you live paycheck to paycheck. But you don’t want to be penalized for that, especially when so many options don’t require a minimum. Additionally, you don’t want to be forced to make a certain number of transactions if you are trying to limit or maintain your spending, so look for accounts with no transaction requirements. 

Access to Your Money 

If your job pays you or receives a lot of cash, you will want an easy way to deposit it into your checking account. That might mean looking for an account option with a brick-and-mortar location or at least one with plenty of accessible and convenient ATMs. 

Mobile App

In today’s world, never underestimate a good mobile app. Mobile banking allows you to move money quickly and easily and track your balance, which can be crucial in avoiding overdrafts and building your financial health.

What Is ChexSystems?

Like a credit bureau, ChexSystems is a reporting agency banks use to determine if you have issues with checking accounts. Things like fraud, fees, and unpaid negative balances can follow you for years and prevent you from getting approved for checking and savings accounts.

Negative activity usually lasts around five years from the first date that it’s reported. Before applying for an account, it may be prudent to check your report in ChexSystems, just like you would check your credit score before applying for a loan or a credit card. 

Our Methodology for Finding the Best Second Chance Checking Accounts

We built this list of the best second-chance checking accounts by looking for the accounts with the best prices and the best features. Things like high-yield savings options, debit card rewards, and the chance to upgrade to a less expensive account option are features that helped accounts cut.

Most importantly, every account keeps the fees between low and zero. Banking today should be largely fee-free.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Do you have to get a second chance checking account if you have a bad ChexSystems report?

Having a bad ChexSystem report can make it difficult to open a checking account, but second-chance checking accounts aren’t the only ones available. Some banks don’t check your ChexSystems report at all. Another good option is to try working with local credit unions.

These institutions tend to be smaller and more community-focused, so you might be able to find a credit union that’s willing to work with you.

Does ChexSystems affect your credit?

Your ChexSystems report can affect your chances of opening a checking account, so it’s natural to worry that having a poor ChexSystems report and needing to open a second chance checking account could impact your credit.

The good news is that your ChexSystems report and your credit report are separate, so the info that shows up on each won’t affect the other.

Can you overdraft a second chance checking account?

Many second-chance accounts will not allow you to overdraft your account, which means any transaction that will cause an overdraft will be declined. However, not every account on this list is a classic second-chance account, and many offer overdraft protection up to a certain amount.

Can you be denied a second chance checking account?

There is still an application process, so any institution has the right to deny you an account.

Final Thoughts

Access to basic banking is important to equalize access to wealth and is becoming more widespread through the competitive market of online banks and financial technology. If you have some negative activity in ChexSystems, there are still options to work toward a healthy financial future.

Second-chance checking accounts allow you to get a checking account even if you have a bad ChexSystems report. While the accounts can be expensive, you can use them to improve your ChexSystems report and graduate to an account with lower fees.