Best Second-Chance Bank Accounts of 2020

Checking accounts for customers with shaky banking history

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Second-chance bank accounts offer convenient banking services for customers with a shaky banking history. Bounced checks or unpaid overdrafts can make it hard to open a bank account, but some banks still allow you to open a checking account with which you can write and deposit checks, use a debit card, and pay bills online.

We’ve highlighted some of the best options available. With the second-chance accounts listed below, your ChexSystems history and other issues won’t necessarily prevent you from opening an account. Also, we highlighted banks that keep fees reasonable and offer the experience you need for easy day-to-day banking.

Best Second-Chance Bank Accounts

Account Why We Picked It Minimum Deposit to Open Monthly Fee
Chime Spending Account Best Overall and Best for Fees $0 $0
Wells Fargo Clear Access Banking Account Runner-Up $25 $5
Radius Essential Checking Best for Checking $10 $9
Peoples Bank Best for Easy Approval $30 $4.95
BBVA Easy Checking Honorable Mention $25 $13.95

Chime Spending Account: Best for Overall Fees

Chime Bank Logo

Fees are one of the pitfalls of second-chance accounts, but Chime has no monthly maintenance charge, no overdraft charges, and access to 32,000 fee-free ATMs. Chime also allows you to deposit cash through partnerships with over 90,000 retail locations, there is no minimum deposit requirement and Chime won’t run a ChexSystems check when you apply. Chime’s main drawback is that you can’t write paper checks, although Chime can send checks on your behalf. This online banking platform is technically not a bank, but Chime partners with banks to provide functionality like your debit card and FDIC insurance.

What We Like
  • No monthly maintenance or overdraft charges

  • Access to direct deposit up to two days early

What We Don't Like
  • Can’t write your own checks

  • Can only deposit cash via retail locations with Green Dot


You can pay bills online or request a check by mail, but you can’t use a checkbook as you might with a standard checking account at other banks or credit unions.

Wells Fargo Clear Access Banking Account: Runner-Up

Wells Fargo Logo

Wells Fargo may be worth a look if you want a traditional brick-and-mortar bank. Wells Fargo’s Clear Access banking account provides a debit card, online bill pay, and more. However, there are no paper checks and the ability to send funds to friends and family through your checking account is lacking. This account charges a $5 monthly fee, but that’s waived for customers between 13 and 24 years old. The Clear Access Banking Account requires at least $25 to open. For brick-and-mortar access, Wells Fargo has a strong branch footprint with 5,400 branches and over 13,000 ATMs.

What We Like
  • Free for customers between 13 and 24 years old

  • Numerous branch locations

  • No overdraft of non-sufficient funds fees

What We Don't Like
  • No person-to-person money transfers

  • No paper checks

  • Monthly fee for customers over 25 years old

Radius Essential Checking: Best for Checking

Radius Bank

Radius Bank checks all the boxes for payment options with the Essential Checking account. You can write checks, use a debit card, pay bills online, and send person-to-person payments. Customers have access to 20,000 surcharge-free ATMs, too. If all goes well, after one year, you can ask Radius Bank to convert your account to a Rewards Checking account with enhanced features and no monthly fee.

However, the account has fees and limitations until then. You’ll pay a $9 monthly fee with no waivers and need to make at least a $10 deposit to open an account. Also, Radius Bank limits your debit card transactions to $500 per day ($250 per day for the first 30 days).

What We Like
  • Spend with checks, your debit card, and online bill pay

  • Potential upgrade to a standard account

What We Don't Like
  • Debit card limit starts at $250 per day

  • Mobile deposits limited to $1,000 per day

Peoples Bank: Best for Easy Approval

The Peoples Bank Second Chance Checking account is available to virtually anyone with blemishes on their checking background—as long as there is no fraudulent activity in your history. The account has a $4.95 monthly fee and includes check writing, a debit card, online bill pay, and more. The surcharge-free ATM network is limited to Peoples Bank’s two branches in Paris, Texas, so expect to pay $2 to Peoples when you use another bank’s ATM. You may also have to pay a fee to the ATM owner. To open an account, you’ll need to deposit $30.

What We Like
  • Full range of services

  • Potential to convert to a less-expensive account

What We Don't Like
  • $13.95 monthly fee has no waivers

  • Limited surcharge-free ATM access

BBVA Easy Checking: Honorable Mention

BBVA Logo Primary

BBVA offers an Easy Checking account with robust features, although the fees are on the high side. With this account, you can write checks, order a debit card for $10, pay bills online, and more. There’s a monthly service charge of $13.95 with no waivers, and you pay BBVA $3 when using a non-BBVA ATM. The ATM owner may charge an additional fee. After one year, you can request an upgrade to another BBVA checking account with no monthly fees and better ATM access. The Easy Checking account requires $25 to open.

What We Like
  • Full range of services

  • Potential to convert to a less-expensive account

What We Don't Like
  • $13.95 monthly fee has no waivers

  • Limited surcharge-free ATM access

Pros and Cons of Second-Chance Bank Accounts

Pros
  • Standard banking services

  • Easily get your paycheck

  • Send money and make payments

  • Possible upgrade to better account

Cons
  • Fewer banks to choose from

  • Potentially higher fees

  • Limited features

Pros Explained

Standard Banking Services

Second-chance accounts enable you to open an account—even with a less-than-perfect history that might cause some banks to deny your application. With these accounts, you can typically use standard banking services like direct deposit, online bill pay, mobile deposit, and a debit card linked to your checking account. 

Easily Get Your Paycheck

A bank account can potentially save you time and money. With a second-chance bank account, you can have your employer send funds directly to your account. Alternatively, you can deposit paychecks via your mobile phone.

With no bank account, you may need to visit a check-cashing store or supermarket every pay period to cash your paycheck. In addition to making a trip to the store and waiting in line, you typically pay a fee for that service. If you’re paying $2 to $8 (or more) for every check you cash, a monthly bank fee might not look so bad.

If you cash your paycheck, you’ll be walking around with a substantial amount of cash that could be stolen or lost. Plus, it may be tempting to spend cash on hand.

Send Money and Make Payments

When you need to pay for something and cash isn’t an option, you may need to purchase a money order (for payments by mail, for example), which could cost close to $1 per order.

Want to transfer money to a friend? That’s no problem if you get free person-to-person payments in your bank account. But in-person money transfer services may charge hefty fees to move money for you. Plus, a bank account lets you arrange payments and transfers online. Doing so reduces the need to make trips and wait in line.

Possible Upgrade to Better Account

When you open a second-chance account, you open the door to a less-expensive relationship with your bank. For example, BBVA and Radius both allow you the chance to upgrade to a regular checking account after 12 months. Getting your foot in the door is the first step.

Cons Explained

Fewer Banks to Choose From

Not all banks offer second-chance accounts, so you have fewer options. Instead of picking a bank that’s the perfect fit for your needs, you may have to start with a short list of banks that offer these accounts. But once you’re on your feet, you can change to another bank.

Potentially Higher Fees

Second-chance accounts may charge monthly fees with no opportunity for fee waivers. There’s only one option (Chime) on our list of accounts that does not charge a monthly service fee. If you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck, $5 or $10 per month could put you in the negative. Plus, it doesn’t feel good to see those charges.

Limited Features

Second-chance accounts may lack your favorite features, such as the ability to write checks or send money to friends and family electronically. That may not be a dealbreaker for you, but it’s crucial to review any exclusions before you apply. Likewise, some accounts may limit how much you can spend on your debit card each day. Those limitations could prevent you from completing essential transactions like making a short-notice deposit on an apartment.

How Should You Choose the Best Second-Chance Bank Account?

Review Fees

Check for monthly service charges, and find out if there are any ways to get those fees waived. It’s also smart to review other charges that you may have to pay. If you occasionally overdraw your account or order cashier’s checks, research what it would cost.

ATM Access

If you like to get cash at ATMs, see if the bank has fee-free ATMs that are convenient for you. The bank may have its own machines, or it might participate in a nationwide ATM network. You can typically find this information by searching for locations on any bank’s website.

Account Restrictions

Different banks offer different features in their second-chance accounts. With some accounts, you might not have the option to write checks. Plus, some banks limit how much you can spend or withdraw with your debit card each day. You need to know about these limitations before you open an account.

Technology Tools

If several banks look appealing, investigate the tools that the bank’s app and online accounts provide. Features like mobile deposit and online bill pay are practically a necessity. Additional tools might include budgeting help, automatic savings programs, and person-to-person payments.

How We Chose the Best Second-Chance Bank Accounts

To determine the best second-chance bank accounts, we focused on accounts that are available to consumers nationwide (there aren’t many of them). With fewer than 10 options, we researched monthly fees and critical money management features. After a thorough analysis, we determined which account truly stands out in each category.

Article Sources

The Balance requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy .
  1. Chime. "Frequently Asked Questions." Accessed Sept. 1, 2020. 

  2. Chime Banking. "Frequently Asked Questions." Accessed Sept. 1, 2020.

  3. Chime. "Second Chance Banking." Accessed Sept. 1, 2020. 

  4. Wells Fargo. "Clear Access Banking Account." Accessed Sept. 1, 2020.

  5. Radius Bank. "Essential Online Personal Checking Account." Accessed Sept. 1, 2020.

  6. Peoples Bank. "Personal Checking." Accessed Sept. 1, 2020.

  7. Peoples Cash Solutions. "Second Chance Checking." Accessed Sept. 1, 2020.

  8. BBVA. "Open a Second-Chance Checking Account." Accessed Sept. 1, 2020.