10 Best Checking Accounts for Bad Credit

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Although a credit score is a simple three-digit number, a bad credit score can have a big impact on your finances.

You may think that a bad credit score will only stop you from securing the best loan terms on major purchases. 

But a bad credit score can create a more pressing problem – it can stop you from opening a checking account. Without a checking account, managing your finances can be more tricky. 

Luckily, it is still possible to open a checking account with bad credit. However, you won’t be able to open every checking account on the market.

Instead, you’ll need to seek out a checking account that is designed to meet your needs. 

If you have bad credit, don’t fret about being able to open a checking account. In this article, we will review banks that will work with your bad credit.

Top Checking Accounts for Bad Credit

Without a checking account, it can be difficult to maintain your financial situation. A checking account can help you avoid extra fees when you need to pay your bills or cash your checks.

With that in mind, you must find a checking account that will work with your bad credit. 

It is entirely possible to have a good banking experience with bad credit. Many financial institutions have checking accounts specifically designed for customers with bad credit. In some cases, these may be called “second chance checking accounts.” 

As you seek out a checking account to fit your bad credit, consider the fees and balance requirements.

Ensure that the benefits of having the checking account outweigh any costs or restrictions associated with the account.

Although the balance will vary based on your situation, take the time to weigh the pros and cons. 

Without further delay, let’s take a closer look at the best checking accounts for bad credit. 

1. Axos Bank

Axos Bank checking homepage

Axos is an online bank that was founded in 2000. As one of the oldest digital banks, it offers an excellent opportunity for digital banking across the country.

You may encounter a physical branch if you live in California. But the bank is best known for its digital offerings. 

The bank offers a variety of checking accounts that are designed for a range of older consumers to children opening their first bank account. One of the bank’s offerings is a checking account created for people with bad credit. 

The bank is known for offering attractive interest-bearing checking options. But you will not receive any interest-bearing features with the second chance checking account

To open the account, you’ll need to start with a $50 balance. It has a monthly maintenance fee of $8.95. However, if you set up Direct Deposit, you’ll only be charged $6.95 per month to maintain the account. 

When you open the account, you’ll receive a Visa Debit Card with various transaction limits. You will only be able to withdraw $310 per day in cash or spend $500 on the point of sale transactions. 

Axos is a great bank if you are interested in a user-friendly online experience. But if you want in-person options, then you may need to look elsewhere. 

Pros

  • Ability to lower monthly fee through Direct Deposit set up
  • Established digital bank

Cons

  • $50 minimum opening balance
  • Daily cash withdrawal limit

Learn More: Axos Bank Review

2. PNC

PNC homepage

PNC is a well-known bank with a physical presence in many states. The bank offers more than 2,600 branches located in many states.

Some of the states you can find PNC locations in include:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Texas
  • Florida
  • New Mexico

And many other U.S. states. PNC’s Foundation checking account was designed for you if you don’t qualify for a traditional checking account.

PNC encourages you to try to open their online bank account, the Virtual Wallet. If you don’t qualify for that account you can go into a branch and open a Foundation account. . 

In terms of fees, you will not need to worry about overdraft fees as there are none, yet you will need to pay a $5.00 monthly service charge.

There’s also a $25 minimum opening balance requirement.

But you will not need to worry about ATM fees. Instead, you’ll be able to use PNC ATMs for free. 

Pros

  • No ATM fees
  • No overdraft fees
  • Option to upgrade to an account with fewer fees after one year

Cons

  • Monthly fee
  • $25 minimum opening deposit

3. Chime

Chime homepage

Chime offers a unique spin on the traditional banking experience. Unlike most traditional banks, Chime is a financial technology company that doesn’t provide any physical locations.

With that, Chime is best for customers looking for a fully digital checking account experience in its Chime Spending Account. 

Although the digital presence of Chime is unique, the accounts are still FDIC insured. That means that your money is protected in the same way offered by most traditional banks. 

When you work with Chime, you will not need to worry about bad credit. Unlike most financial institutions, Chime doesn’t look at your ChexSystems report before approving your account.

That means that you should be able to easily sign up for your account whether or not you have bad credit. 

To open the account, you will not need to make a minimum payment or maintain a minimum balance.

Once you’ve opened the account, you won’t encounter any maintenance or overdraft fees.

The main cost you will need to contend with is a $2.50 fee for out of network ATM withdrawals. But with over 38,000 fee-free ATMs, this shouldn’t be a major issue. 

You’ll be able to manage your funds with the Chime app easily. You can always check your balance or instantly disable transactions if needed.

Plus, if you lose your debit card, the replacement is free. 

The only downside is that there are no physical branches. That means you’ll need to rely on customer support via the app, phone or email. 

Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by, and debit card issued by, The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, N.A.; Members FDIC.

Pros

  • Free debit card replacement
  • No minimum balance required to open

Cons

  • No physical branches
  • Difficult to make cash deposits

Learn More: Chime Review

4. Lending Club Banking

lending club banking homepage

Radius Bank was recently acquired by Lending Club to create the Lending Club Banking brand. This new brand offers an option for consumers with less than a perfect banking record through their Essential Checking account.

The goal of this second chance checking account is to provide a fresh start in your personal finances. 

You will not need to reach a minimum balance to open the account. But you’ll need to pay a $9 monthly maintenance fee to keep your account.

Another cost you should be aware of is the $5 overdraft fee that the bank takes for each day that your account remains overdrawn. 

As you use your debit card, you’ll need to be aware of the $500 daily limit.

One restriction is that you cannot deposit more than $1,000 via the mobile check deposit feature. Additionally, you cannot make mobile check deposits over $2,000 in 10 consecutive days. 

When you work with LendingClub Bank, you’ll have access to an integrated financial dashboard. With that, you can take a comprehensive look at your budget, debts, net worth and more.

You’ll be able to easily monitor your financial goals with the help of this well laid out financial management tool

After using the Essential Checking account for a whole year, LendingClub Bank offers the opportunity to upgrade to the Rewards Checking account.

When you upgrade, the Rewards Checking account offers a 1% cash back on all purchases without any monthly fee. 

Note that you’ll need to prove that you can responsibly manage your checking account over the year.

With this opportunity, LendingClub Bank offers the option to start your journey to better banking with ease. 

Pros

  • Fresh start for bad credit consumers
  • Ability to upgrade to Rewards Checking after one year

Cons

  • $500 daily limit on debit card
  • Monthly fee

5. Aspire Federal Credit Union

aspire credit union homepage

Aspire Federal Credit Union offers the Fresh Start Checking account to consumers with credit issues. As the name suggests, the goal of the account is to provide a fresh start as you get a handle on your finances. 

There are only two requirements you’ll need to meet to use this checking account.

First, you’ll need to Direct Deposit 100% of your paycheck into the account. Your employer can easily set that up.

Second, you will not be able to open the account if you have a fraudulent history record. 

If you can meet those two requirements, it is smooth sailing to open your Fresh Start Checking account with Aspire Federal Credit Union.

Once you’ve opened the account, you will not be required to pay a monthly maintenance fee.

Plus, you’ll be able to avoid ATM fees by using one of the 70,000 available fee-free ATMs. 

Although there are two physical locations available in the Northeast, the credit union can help consumers across the country through their online platform.

You’ll have access to customer support in a Live Chat setting Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 5:15 PM. 

However, if you want more in-person options or customer support availability, then you should seek out another opportunity. 

Pros

  • No monthly maintenance fee
  • Live chat available

Cons

  • 100% of your Direct Deposit must go to this account
  • Limited physical branches

6. Chase

Chase homepage

You can trace Chase’s roots back to 1799. In its long tenure, Chase has grown into a well-respected option for personal banking needs. 

Chase checking account customers will have access to over 4,700 branches and 16,000 Chase ATMs. There are two checking account options available through Chase, the Chase Secure Banking account and the Chase Total Checking account. 

The Chase Secure Banking account offers robust features with a relatively low monthly service fee of $4.95 per month. You won’t run into a minimum deposit with this account. Once open, you can pay bills, cash checks, and send money through Zelle. 

One very promising aspect of the Secure Banking account is that customers repost saving around $50 per month on bank fees. That’s a significant savings worth taking into account! 

Plus, you won’t have to worry about unauthorized card transactions with the included Zero Liability Protection. Chase will reimburse you for the charges if you report the unauthorized transaction promptly. 

Last but not least, new Chase customers can score a $100 bonus if they open a Chase Secure Banking account and complete the qualifying activities.

Pros

  • No minimum opening deposit
  • Established banking
  • $100 bonus possibility

Cons

  • Monthly fee
  • No physical checks

7. Varo

Varo bank homepage

Varo Bank is a digital bank that offers no physical locations. What it lacks in a physical presence, it makes up for in a robust digital platform. The design of the online bank is to provide a positive banking experience. 

When you apply for a Varo Checking Account, it will not check your ChexSystems or credit report.

Instead, Varo will allow you to open the account you need to manage your finances well. With the checking account you need, the goal is to get your finances back on the right track. 

With Varo, you will not need to pay any monthly fees or maintain a minimum balance. Instead, you can manage your money as needed without minimum balance requirements throwing a wrench in your plans.

You’ll enjoy free paper check mailing, debit cards and access to more than 55,000 fee-free ATMs. 

A final perk of working with Varo is that you’ll also have optional access to a high-yield savings account.

With automatic savings tools built into the checking account, you’ll have more control over your savings goals. 

Pros

  • Free paper check mailing
  • No monthly maintenance fees
  • No minimum balance requirements

Cons

  • No physical branches

8. GoBank

GoBank homepage

GoBank offers a mobile-only banking experience without the need to pass a credit check or ChexSystems check.

Green Dot Bank owns GoBank. Although there are no in-person banking options, you’ll still have access to fee-free cash withdrawals at over 42,000 ATMs. 

The checking account offered by GoBank comes with an $8.95 monthly fee. However, you can have the fee waived if you connect your monthly Direct Deposited to this account. 

To have the fee waived, the deposits from your monthly payroll or government benefits must equal at least $500. With the waived fee, you stand to save a considerable amount of money each year. 

When you open the account, you’ll have the ability to manage it from the smartphone app. Within the app, you’ll find tailored budgeting advice and budgeting tools to help you save for tomorrow. 

As far as costs go, this account has a fee to consider. However, the bank can waive the opening account requirement of $20 and a $2.95 sign-up fee if you sign up online.

You won’t run into any overdraft fees because overdrafts are not permitted. 

And, if you need to deposit cash into your account, then you can go to many participating retailers for up to $4.95 for each deposit. 

If you are comfortable with mobile banking, then GoBank offers a solid opportunity to manage your money on the go. 

Pros

  • No overdraft fees
  • Built in budgeting tools

Cons

  • Monthly fee
  • $4.95 fee for each deposit

9. Peoples Bank

people's united bank homepage

Peoples Bank offers in-person banking in Texas. But it also provides online banking to individuals across the country.

The online banking experience offered by Peoples Bank provides a second chance banking opportunity for consumers with bad credit

To open the account, you’ll need to make a $30 minimum deposit. Once you’ve opened the account, you’ll encounter a $4.95 monthly maintenance fee to keep the account. 

A couple of fees to watch for include a $27.50 overdraft fee and a $20 charge if you decide to close your account within 90 days of opening it.

If you stay within the network, then you won’t find any ATM fees. But out of network ATM cash withdrawals will cost $2 each. 

Although the platform’s design is mainly for online banking transactions, you will still have the opportunity to use paper checks. 

After one year of keeping your account in good standing, you may be able to upgrade to the standard checking account offered by Peoples Bank.

With the standard version, you can look forward to fewer fees. 

Pros

  • Ability to upgrade to a standard checking account after one year
  • Access to paper checks with your online experience

Cons

  • $30 minimum opening balance
  • Few in-person branches

10. First American Bank

First american bank homepage

First American Bank offers a Fresh Start Checking account to help you get your finances back on track.

They also provide the opportunity to move forward with your financial goals with an account that will not hold you back. 

The bank offers several physical branches to give in-person support in Florida, Illinois and Wisconsin. But if you don’t live in those states, you can still access all of the online and mobile banking options. 

The minimum deposit to open an account is $50. After that, you’ll find a monthly maintenance fee of $9.95 to keep the account open.

But you will not need to maintain a minimum monthly balance to keep your account open. 

With the account open, you’ll be able to manage your funds through mobile and online banking options.

Additionally, you’ll have unlimited check writing privileges and access to over 55,000 fee-free ATMs. 

You’ll find that First American Bank is a responsive bank whether or not you can get to a physical branch.

With positive customer reviews, you’ll likely have a pleasant experience working with this bank. 

Pros

  • Unlimited check writing privileges
  • Mobile and online banking options

Cons

  • $50 minimum opening deposit
  • Monthly fee

Bank Comparison Table

CompanyBBB
Axos BankA+
PNCA+
ChimeA+
LendingClubA-
Aspire Federal Credit UnionA+
Wells FargoNR
VaroA
GoBankB+
Peoples BankA+
First American BankA-

Summary

It is entirely possible to secure a worthwhile checking account with bad credit. Take some time to review your options and determine which is the best for your situation. 

Although you can bank effectively with bad credit, you may want to work toward boosting your credit score.

A higher credit score can help your secure better loan terms and make finding the right bank account easier. 

It might take some time to improve your credit score dramatically, but the rewards can be worth the effort. You can learn how to improve your bad credit score in a few minutes today. 

As you start your journey to building a solid personal finance base, using the right bank account is key. 

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