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The Top 5 Second Chance Bank Accounts

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

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Some banks don’t like giving second chances to customers who have less-than-stellar financial histories, especially since it could expose them to expensive risks. A record of bounced checks or debit card overdrafts could easily lock you out of the conveniences of modern banking.

Fortunately, banks also like making money, and some offer special “second chance” accounts that minimize their risk while allowing consumers to stay in the banking system. A second chance bank account gives customers with troubled records a fresh opportunity to demonstrate they can bank responsibly.

When it comes to a second chance account, fees are an unfortunate reality. But some accounts offer customers a better deal than others, and we’ve researched our database to find the second chance accounts with the most reasonable fee structures, while also factoring in whether they provide online and mobile banking, and how accessible accounts are throughout the country.

Account Name

Monthly Fee

Minimum to open

Availability

Chime$0$0Nationwide
Peoples Bank Cash Solutions Second Chance Checking$4.95 $30Nationwide
Radius Essential Checking$9$10Nationwide
BBVA Easy Checking$13.95$25Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico and Texas
Woodforest National Bank Second Chance Checking$9.95 monthly maintenance fee if you use a direct deposit; $11.95 without a direct deposit$25Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia

Second chance account basics

With a second chance bank account, customers shut out of traditional bank accounts get the opportunity to win their way back into a bank’s good graces. Similar to credit bureaus, financial services company ChexSystems maintains records of consumers’ banking histories. Bounced checks, overdrawn accounts or instances of fraud can all end up on your ChexSystems record; if you accumulate enough black marks on ChexSystems, banks could deny your application to open a new account.

Because second chance accounts are meant for customers who have demonstrated bad banking behavior, some lack features of traditional accounts, such as overdraft protection. In the eyes of the bank, you represent too much of a risk for them to extend you such courtesies.

Nobody likes paying fees, and we generally advise consumers to avoid needless banking fees due to the many fee-free banking options available. But fees are the price you pay for access to banking when you have a poor record. Plus, the second chance accounts listed below give you access to online and mobile banking, which is always a plus.

The 5 best second chance bank accounts

1. Chime

Checking Account

Fintech app developer Chime is not a bank, however their online checking account product is open to everybody no matter how bad your record is with ChexSystems. Chime does not check on applicants with ChexSystems, plus they offer lots of non-traditional features to help you get your financial life back on track. Best of all is the fact that they charge no fees at all, and require neither a minimum opening deposit or a minimum balance.

Chime account features:

  • No opening balance or minimum balance requirements.
  • Set up direct deposit for your paycheck, and the funds from each pay period will be deposited as soon as the transaction is initiated, giving you access to your pay up to two days earlier than conventional checking accounts.
  • Automatic savings features to help you save in your connected Chime Savings account.
  • The app sends you daily bank account balance notifications, and sends transaction alerts every time you use your debit card.
  • You can disable the debit card from the app.

Fees to watch out for:

  • Chime’s service is almost entirely fee-free: No monthly charges, no ACH transfer fees, no foreign transaction fees, and no ATM fees if you withdraw funds from MoneyPass ATMs.
  • If you make an ATM withdrawal outside of these networks, there is a $2.50 fee.
  • Overdrafts are not permitted, so there is never an overdraft fee.

2. Peoples Bank Cash Solutions Second Chance Checking

Second Chance Checking

This Texas-based bank offers a second chance bank account that is available nationwide, and so long as you don’t have a record of bank or checking fraud on your record, you should be approved for this account. You’ll need to deposit at least $30 before the bank activates your account and provides you with checks and a debit card.

Fees to watch out for:

  • $4.95 monthly maintenance fee
  • $27.50 overdraft fee
  • $27.50 nonsufficient funds fee
  • $3.95 printed statement fee (which can be avoided with electronic statements)
  • $2.00 ATM withdrawal fee at machines not owned by Peoples Bank
  • $25 stop payment fee
  • $20 account closure fee (if within 90 days of opening account)

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on Peoples Bank Cash Solutions’s secure website

3. Radius Essential Checking

Radius Essential Checking

Products from online bank Radius are available to customers nationwide, and accessibility is a strong point in its favor. This second chance bank account only requires customers to deposit $10 to open an Essential Checking account, which is lower than some other accounts on this list.

Account Features:

  • A free debit card
  • 24/7 mobile and online banking
  • Access to Radius’s budgeting and personal finance tracking apps
  • Eligibility to upgrade to Radius’s Reward Checking account after 12 months of positive banking history

Fees to watch out for:

  • $9 monthly maintenance fee
  • $25 per item non-sufficient funds fee (waived on all overdraft items $5 or less)
  • $5 daily overdraft fee

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on Radius Bank’s secure website

4. BBVA Easy Checking

Easy Checking account
BBVA’s Easy Checking product is available as a second chance account to customers in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico and Texas. There is a $13.95 monthly service charge to maintain the account. You can request that BBVA upgrade your account one of their regular checking products after 12 months — and ditch that high monthly fee — so long as the Easy Checking account remains active and has a positive balance.

BBVA Easy Checking features::

  • Online and mobile banking, customized alerts, and a free debit card (with option to personalize)
  • $25 minimum deposit to open
  • Free BBVA ATM withdrawals

Fees to watch out for:

  • $3 fee for out-of-network ATM withdrawals
  • $38 insufficient funds fee ($32 in California)
  • $15 deposit item returned fee
  • $32 stop payment fee made over the phone or in person ($30 in California); $25 if made online

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on BBVA’s secure website

5. Woodforest National Bank Second Chance Checking

Second Chance Checking

This regional bank has a checking account aptly named Second Chance Checking, to help people rejected by other banks access — provided they live in one of the 17 states where a physical branch exists and can meet the $25 minimum opening deposit requirement. Those states are: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Fees to watch out for:

  • $9.95 monthly maintenance fee if you use a direct deposit
  • $9 one-time account set-up fee
  • $2.50 ATM withdrawal fee when used at a non-Woodforest network ATM
  • $15 debit card set-up fee
  • $32 overdraft fee (for each charge)

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on Woodforest National Bank’s secure website

Alternatives to a second chance bank account

Get a prepaid debit card

Tired of the traditional banking experience? You could opt for a prepaid debit card instead. With a prepaid card, you can load money onto it and spend at merchants that accept major credit and debit cards. But if you try and spend more money than what’s on the card, the transaction is declined — although this prevents you from accruing any overdraft or insufficient funds fees. This is useful if you feel you may still have trouble managing your spending and need an extra layer of security to prevent you from getting into trouble.

Some prepaid cards offer extra perks like advance direct deposit and free ATMs so long as you stay in their network.

Open a secured credit card

You may also have better luck applying for a secured credit card if your credit score is in good enough shape. Usually, this requires depositing cash with the lender, who then gives you the credit card for the same amount. Each month that you make on-time payments, the bank will report that good behavior to the credit bureaus, helping you boost your credit score. At the end of the payment period (generally 12 months, though it varies by banks), you’ll get the full deposit back.

Secured cards can come with high interest rates and many don’t feature the enticing rewards other high-end cards do, but they get the basic job done for consumers who don’t need a card with a high credit limit.

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Fitness Bank Savings Review

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

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Fitness Bank’s savings account option

Fitness Savings Account

This unconventional savings product offers customers the chance to earn an outstanding APY when they are physically active. The daily average number of steps you took in the previous month determines the APY you earn on your account balance. The table below outlines the five earning tiers that this bank currently offers:
APY Tiers*Minimum Balance to Earn APYSteps Required
0.30%$1500-4,999
0.40%$1005,000-7,499
0.50%$1007,500-9,999
0.60%$10010,000-12,499
0.70%$10012,500+

If you are a US citizen age 65 or older, you qualify for a different rate schedule:

APY Tiers*Minimum Balance to Earn APYSteps Required
0.40%$1000-4,999
0.50%$1005,000-7,499
0.60%$1007,500-9,999
0.70%$10010,000+
  • Minimum opening deposit: $100
  • Minimum daily balance to earn APY: $100
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $10, waived by maintaining the minimum daily balance.
  • ATM fee: N/A
  • ATM fee refund: N/A
  • Overdraft fee: $40

These rates truly are outstanding if you live an active lifestyle. The first month, everyone gets highest APY regardless of number of steps they take. After that, your APY will be assigned based on your daily average number of steps over the course of the prior month. Needless to say, if you don’t live a very active lifestyle, or if you have a health condition that would prevent you from meeting the step requirements, this may not be the best account for you.

This bank charges a $10 monthly maintenance fee if you don’t maintain a minimum average daily balance of $100. If you’re not confident you can maintain this minimum, you may want to look at a checking account rather than a savings account — keep in mind, however, that Fitness Bank only offers a savings account. If you meet the minimum balance requirement, the monthly maintenance fee will be waived.

This savings account does not come with an ATM card or checks. You are limited to six certain withdrawals and/or transactions per month, per Regulation D, which is enforced by the federal government, although banks do have some flexibility in allowing more than six per month in certain cases. At Fitness Bank, if you make more than six withdrawals per month you will be charged a $10 fee for each additional withdrawal.

If you want to go above and beyond achieving the highest APY available from this account, you can join one of Fitness Bank’s challenges. Every month, there is a step challenge where you can compete with all other participating Fitness Bank members to get the highest number of average daily steps. Top competitors will be awarded with prizes at the end of the month. You can also set up challenges just for your family or friend group, or for a group of employees participating in a workplace challenge.

How to get Fitness Bank’s savings account

Opening a savings account at Fitness Bank is a straightforward process. The bank boasts account setup will take you less than two minutes.

You’ll fill out a quick online application, supplying basic information like your name, address and Social Security number, along with documentation of your driver’s license or passport. Then you’ll need to provide funding information, namely your bank account number, credit card or debit card.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on FitnessBank’s secure website

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How Fitness Bank’s savings account compares

This bank offers phenomenal rates. At the time of writing, they offer the highest savings account rate in the market — if you can rack up the steps needed to earn it. In addition, you will have to be comfortable doing your banking 100% online with this savings account. You will not receive a checkbook or ATM card – all of your withdrawals and deposits will be completed via electronic transfer. If you’d prefer ATM access or the ability to visit a physical branch, Fitness Bank is not the right match for you.

The minimum deposit required to open and maintain an account without incurring a monthly maintenance fee isn’t outrageous. But you can find savings accounts offering somewhat competitive rates without these requirements. And to repeat, you’ll have to meet the step requirements; if that challenge goes unfulfilled, the advantages of saving with Fitness Bank wane. Its rates get progressively less competitive the fewer steps you take.

Overall review of Fitness Bank’s banking products

This bank offers a unique financial product aimed at promoting wellness. Its minimum balance and deposit requirements are fairly average for the industry, as are its fees. While its offerings are fair and get more generous as you take more steps, you will likely find better rates elsewhere if you cannot realistically meet these specific fitness standards. If you can, though, you’re in for some of the best rates on the market.

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Acorns Spend Review

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

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Acorns Spend is the third product offered by popular micro-investing tool Acorns. Spend is a checking account integrated with the firm’s two existing products, Acorns Core and Acorns Later. Combined, the three products are designed to get people saving and investing on an automatic basis.

Acorns Spend has all the features of a traditional checking account, including a debit card and ATM access. The Acorns twist is that purchases made using the account are rounded up to the nearest dollar, with the excess money being invested in six different exchange-traded funds, or ETFs.

When you pay the $3 monthly fee for Acorns Spend, you’re automatically enrolled in Acorns Core and Acorns Later, although you’re not required to fund or use these products.

If you’re curious about Acorns Spend, we’ll take a look at the features and benefits of the account, along with its associated fees and drawbacks to see if its a good fit for you.

Account features

No minimum balance or overdraft fees. You don’t have to fund an Acorns Spend account to open it, and you don’t have to worry about ever overdrawing the account.

Includes Acorns Core and Acorns Laterfor no additional fee. Although some online checking accounts don’t charge a monthly fee at all, the Acorns Spend account is part of a financial universe that rounds up your money and invests it for you; the $3 monthly fee also includes IRA services through the Acorns Later program.

Unlimited free or reimbursed ATM withdrawals nationwide. With out-of-network ATM fees often topping $2.50, unlimited fee reimbursements alone may make the $3 monthly charge for Acorns Spend a bargain.

A host of mobile banking services. The account includes free bank-to-bank transfers, digital direct deposit, mobile check deposit, and check sending.

Found Money rewards program. When you shop with specific merchants, they will credit your Acorns account with rewards cash within 90 to 120 days after your purchase.

Integrated with the Acorns ecosystem. Acorns Core already has over 3 million customers, meaning its being used by lots of people. Acorns Spend is an easy add-on service for those already familiar with how Acorns works.

Money invested according to Modern Portfolio Theory.Your spare change is invested in one of five ETF-based portfolios that Acorns has developed in line with Modern Portfolio Theory, which aims to generate the highest possible returns with the lowest possible risk.

Fees and fine print

Acorns is pretty transparent when it comes to its fees and pricing structure. With no overdraft, ATM or minimum balance fees, your monthly service charge is the only fee you’ll have to worry about. This account is the most expensive product available from Acorns, but the fee remains modest.

Pricing

The original Acorns product, now named Acorns Core, charges $1 per month. If you add on the IRA services of Acorns Later, that fee jumps to $2. Acorns Spend, which includes all three products, is $3 per month.

There are a few small twists in the pricing structure. Students do not have to pay the $1 fee for using Acorns Core, so they can access the complete Acorns Core + Acorns Later + Acorns Spend package for just $2. If you’re a millionaire, the fee structure jumps quite a bit, with Acorns charging $100 per million invested.

Other fees and fine print

Although fees for this account are low, they are flat; this means that customers with lower balances can see a significant percentage of their balances eaten away by the monthly fee. For example, if you have just $100 invested via Acorns Spend, the $3 monthly fee amounts to 3% of your balance every month.

ATM fees$0, with unlimited nationwide reimbursements of any non-preferred ATM fees
Withdrawal limits$500 per day
Overdraft fees$0
Card replacement fee$0

Pros and cons

The main pro of the Acorns Spend account is that it “forces” you to save and invest. Like the Acorns Core account, your purchases using the Spend debit card are rounded up and placed into an investment portfolio matching your investment objectives and risk tolerance. The idea behind Acorns Spend – and indeed, the entire Acorns investment philosophy – is that while you’re not likely to miss the additional $0.23 you’ll be charged on your $3.77 cup of coffee, over time, those $0.23 deposits add up.

Another prime benefit of Acorns Spend is its low cost. Yes, there’s a $3 monthly fee, but you are getting a lot for that cost. While some checking accounts charge fees just to provide basic services, the account automatically invests your money for you; not only that, but Acorns Spend invests your money for you in small increments. When was the last time you called your broker and asked him to buy $0.23 of an ETF? At most firms, that’s not even possible, and if it is, commissions will likely eat a large portion of your investment.

The unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursement is another significant feature of the Acorns Spend account. Although some firms, such as Charles Schwab, offer unlimited international ATM fee reimbursements, many banks charge their own additional fees for out-of-network ATM transactions, on top of the fees that are imposed by ATM operators themselves.

There aren’t a lot of obvious “cons” to this account; ironically, the same features that are “pros” for many customers can end up being “cons” for others.

For example, some customers may not enjoy the “forced savings” method that Acorns employs; these customers may prefer to choose their own investments and may not like the portfolios that Acorns creates for customers. After all, Acorns only has five investment options, and they are categorized generically as “Conservative,” “Moderately Conservative,” “Moderate,” “Moderately Aggressive,” and “Aggressive” — and all five portfolios use the same six ETFs, in varying measure.

Another “pro” that may end up being a “con” for some customers is the $3 monthly fee. For those integrated into the Acorns ecosystem, paying this fee makes sense. For those that aren’t interested in the Acorns investment philosophy, or for those who don’t make a lot of reimbursable ATM transactions, the $3 fee could outweigh the benefits, especially when considering that plenty of online banks, from Discover to Capital One, offer no-fee checking accounts.

Overall, this account is a bit different than some of its major competitors, such as the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® and the Venmo debit card.

The Acorns Spend account is primarily focused on saving and investing, with round-ups automatically finding their way to predetermined investment portfolios. The Venmo and PayPal cards, on the other hand, are primarily focused on money transfer/access to and from Venmo and PayPal accounts, respectively, although they also operate as debit cards for purchases.

The Acorns Spend account has another advantage over these cards in that it is a fully functioning checking account, rather than just a money transfer or investment portal.

However, things are changing a bit in the competitive landscape, and PayPal and Acorns have recently formed a financial partnership. Now, you can use your PayPal account to open an Acorns account and begin funding your investments, starting with as little as $5.

How to open an Acorns Spend account

Log in to your existing Acorns account. The fastest way to sign up for Acorns Spend is if you are already an Acorns customer. If you log in to your account, you can pre-order the Acorns Spend debit card in a few clicks. The first 100,000 Acorns Spend debit cards sold out in four days, but the company is still accepting pre-orders for additional cards as of February 8, 2019.
Open an Acorns account online. If you’re not already a customer, you’ll have to sign up for an Acorns account to access Acorns Spend. You can access the application at this link. Once there, click “Don’t Have an Account?” You’ll need to provide your email address and create a password to open an account.

To finish opening your account, you’ll need to connect your spending cards, such as your debit and credit cards, so that Acorns can set up the “round-up” portion of the process. Next, you’ll provide personal information, such as your address and Social Security number. The last step of the process is to choose your investment allocation.

Overall review of Acorns Spend

Acorns Spend was a smart idea for Acorns itself because it’s something of a no-brainer for its existing three million-plus strong customer base. For those that already have Acorns Core and Acorns Later, Acorns Spend is just an additional $1 per month, and it provides access to a feature-packed checking account. For existing customers, Acorns Spend is another easy way to keep rounding up purchases into an investment account.

For potentially new customers, whether or not to switch from an existing checking account to Acorns Spend is an open question. On the plus side, Acorns Spend combines the key benefits of the best online checking accounts, such as mobile check deposit and no minimum deposit requirements, to the low fee structure most customers want, with no ATM fees, overdraft fees or card replacement fees.

One of the few outright negatives of the Acorns Spend account is the $3 monthly fee; although it’s lower than what many traditional, national banks charge, it’s $36 more per year than the $0 charged by many online banks.

For many customers, the unlimited ATM fee rebates will more than compensate for the monthly fee. However, for customers that have limited a need for out-of-network ATM withdrawals, or for those that aren’t interested in the Acorns ecosystem, this may not be the right product for them.