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INOVA Federal Credit Union Review: Checking, Savings, CD, Money Market and IRA Accounts

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

INOVA Federal Credit Union checking account options

Shield Checking

An account that goes the extra mile on personal security and allows you to earn high dividends to boot.
APYMinimum Balance Amount to Earn APY
3.00%
$15,000
  • Minimum opening deposit: $10
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $5
  • ATM fee: None from INOVA FCU ATM, Alliance One or CO-OP Network ATM; $2 for using any other ATMs.
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $29

This account is loaded with perks and is a great option to earn high interest if you’re able to maintain a balance of $15,000. If you’re able to do that with no problem, the $5 monthly maintenance fee is likely negligible.

As an added bonus, this account comes with IDProtect®, an identity theft monitoring service that includes up to $10,000 in identity theft reimbursement coverage in the event that your identity is stolen. There’s also a cell phone protection feature when you pay your monthly bill through this account.

Other perks include unlimited check writing with no fees, a free Visa debit card and online banking services. You’ll also receive a thank-you gift when you open this account. Finally, INOVA Federal Credit Union will buy back your unused checks and debit card from another bank for up to $10.

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Simply Free Checking

A basic, non-interest earning account with minimal requirements.
  • Minimum opening deposit: $10
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: None from INOVA FCU ATM, Alliance One or CO-OP Network ATM; $2 for using any other ATMs.
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $29

Although this account doesn’t have the ability to earn interest, it could be a good option for members who want a simple checking account without having to worry about hidden fees or balance requirements. Like the Shield Checking account, this free account also comes with a thank-you gift at opening, the opportunity to sell the credit union your old checks and debit cards for $10, as well as unlimited check writing, online banking services and a free Visa debit card.

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Performance Checking

A interest-earning checking account with minimal requirements.
APYMinimum Balance Amount to Earn APY
0.07%
$0.01
  • Minimum opening deposit: $10
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $0.01
  • ATM fee: None from INOVA FCU ATM, Alliance One or CO-OP Network ATM; $2 for using any other ATMs.
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $29

If you can’t meet the high minimum balance requirement to earn the APY on the Shield Checking account, this checking account is the one to get. It doesn’t have a monthly service charge or a minimum balance requirement to earn interest; all you have to do is make sure you have one direct deposit or make one automatic payment each month.

In addition to online banking services and a free Visa debit card, this account also offers unlimited check writing capabilities with no fees, a free thank-you gift at opening and the option to sell the credit union your old checks and debit cards from your previous bank.

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on INOVA Federal Credit Union’s secure website

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Advantage 50 Checking

A checking account exclusively for credit union members age 50 or older.
APYMinimum Balance Amount to Earn APY
0.07%
$0.01
  • Minimum opening deposit: $10
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $0.01
  • ATM fee: None from INOVA FCU ATM, Alliance One or CO-OP Network ATM; $2 for using any other ATMs.
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $29

Although this account is available exclusively to credit union members age 50 and over, its offerings, fees and other details are mostly the same as with the Performance Checking account, down to to the APY.

As with the Performance Checking account, you do have to make sure you have one direct deposit or make one automatic payment per month with this account. The only added perk with this account is that you can get 50 free personalized checks at any given time, while the Performance account has a fee for the checks.

This account also doesn’t have a monthly fee or minimum balance requirement. It comes with online banking services, a free Visa debit card, unlimited check writing with no fee, as well as a thank-you gift at opening and the option to sell the credit union your old checks and debit card from your previous bank.

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Elite Checking

Tiered dividend levels makes this checking account ideal for those able to maintain higher balances.
APYMinimum Balance Amount to Earn APY
0.11%
$0.01-$1,999.99
0.25%
$2,000
  • Minimum opening deposit: $10
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $7.50 (can be waived with a maintained balance of $2,000 or more)
  • ATM fee: None from INOVA FCU ATM, Alliance One or CO-OP Network ATM; $2 for using any other ATMs.
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $29

Like the Shield Checking account, this account is also more suited for those who can maintain higher account balances. However, its minimum balance requirement to earn a higher APY is much lower than the other account. This account does have a low monthly fee, but you have the ability to waive it if you maintain a balance of at least $2,000, the same balance you need to be able to earn that higher rate. It also comes with online banking capabilities, a free Visa debit card and free personalized checks, along with a thank you gift at its opening and the chance to sell the credit union your old checks and debit card from your previous bank.

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on INOVA Federal Credit Union’s secure website

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How INOVA Federal Credit Union’s checking accounts compare

If you’re able to maintain the minimum balance requirements on INOVA Federal Credit Union’s Shield and Elite checking accounts, you’ll have the opportunity to earn a great APY rate. However, despite the lack of fees and requirements for the credit union’s more basic accounts, when you take a look at the rates, they just don’t compare to some of the best checking account options out there. The bonuses like thank-you gifts and check buyback are a nice touch, but don’t do much in the long term.

INOVA Federal Credit Union savings account options

Membership Savings

Anyone joining the credit union is required to opening this account.
APYMinimum Balance Amount to Earn APY
0.01%
$100
  • Minimum opening deposit: $5, plus a one-time $10 membership fee
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $100
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: None
  • ATM fee refund: $29

Opening this savings account is a requirement to join INOVA Federal Credit Union and open any of its other products. That’s not really such a bad thing, though, as it only requires a $5 deposit to open and has no monthly fee. It doesn’t really come with any added perks, though, aside from online banking capabilities. And, like all savings accounts, this account is subject to Federal Reserve Regulation D, which limits certain withdrawals up to six per month.

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Special Savings

A simple savings account that allows you to save for a goal with no requirements.
APYMinimum Balance Amount to Earn APY
0.01%
$0.01
  • Minimum opening deposit: None
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $0.01
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: None from INOVA FCU ATM, Alliance One or CO-OP Network ATM; $2 for using any other ATMs.
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $29

If you’ve got funds you want to stash aside for, say, a new car or vacation, this account is a great way to do it while earning interest. This account comes with no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements and has online banking capabilities. As with other savings accounts, it’s subject to Regulation D, which limits certain withdrawals up to six per month.

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Christmas Club

A savings account specifically for holiday-related expenses.
APYMinimum Balance Amount to Earn APY
0.01%
$0.01
  • Minimum opening deposit: None
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $0.01
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None from INOVA FCU ATM, Alliance One or CO-OP Network ATM; $2 for using any other ATMs.
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $29

This account is similar to the Special Savings account; the key difference is that it’s specifically intended for holiday-related expenses. This interest-earning account doesn’t have any monthly fees or minimum balance or deposit requirements. You can make deposits at any time up until Oct. 31 of a given year before funds are transferred to your Member Savings account.

Keep in mind that this account does have an early withdrawal fee of $10 if you dip into it before Nov. 1. And as with other savings accounts, this account is subject to Federal Reserve Regulation D, limiting certain withdrawals up to six per month.

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How INOVA Federal Credit Union’s savings accounts compare

None of INOVA Federal Credit Union’s savings accounts offer spectacular rates, so we wouldn’t recommend joining the credit union for a savings account alone — though it is a requirement to open any other product. While we like the idea behind the Special Savings and Christmas Club accounts, they offer the same APY as the required Members Savings account, so it seems a little redundant to open both. If you’re simply in search of a savings account with great rates, we suggest looking elsewhere, as there are much better savings account options to be had out there.

INOVA Federal Credit Union certificate rates

Certificates

These offerings give you the opportunity to earn higher rates than with a savings account.
TermAPYMinimum Balance Requirement to Earn APY
30 day0.25%
$200
60 day0.30%
$200
91 day0.35%
$200
5 month2.15%
$200
6 month0.50%
$200
7 month2.10%
$200
14 month 2.00%
$200
14 month 3.00%
($50,000 or more of new money)
18 month1.25%
$200
30 month1.40%
$200
30 month3.25%
($50,000 or more of new money)
1 year0.75%
$200
2 year1.35%
$200
3 year1.45%
$200
4 year1.50%
$200
5 year1.75%
$200
6 year1.90%
$200
  • Minimum opening deposit: $200
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: Varies
  • Early withdrawal penalty: Terms of less than 90 days is 30 days’ dividends; terms of 90 days to one year is 90 days’ dividends; terms of longer than 1 year is 180 days’ dividends

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Step Up Certificates

These certificates offer you a one-time chance to increase your rate.
TermAPYMinimum Balance Requirement to Earn APY
91 day0.35%
$200
6 month0.50%
$200
14 month2.00%
$200
18 month1.25%
$200
30 month1.40%
$200
1 year0.75%
$200
2 year1.35%
$200
3 year1.45%
$200
4 year1.50%
$200
5 year1.75%
$200
6 year1.90%
$200
  • Minimum opening deposit: $200
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $200
  • Early withdrawal penalty: Early withdrawal penalty: Terms of less than 90 days is 30 days’ dividends; terms of 90 days to one year is 90 days’ dividends; terms of longer than 1 year is 180 days’ dividends

NOVA Federal Credit Union offers share certificates with fixed rates that are higher than its regular savings account products, and those rates get higher the longer the term you select (available terms range from 30 days to 6 years). These certificates require a minimum deposit of $200 to open, lower than many other offerings out there.

The credit union also offers flexible Step Up certificates that allow you to increase your rate once during the term if you see rates go up on its regular products. Lastly, there is a chance to earn a higher rate on the 14-month and 30-month certificates if you deposit at least $50,000 in “new money” that is not currently on deposit in any other INOVA Federal Credit Union accounts.

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How INOVA Federal Credit Union’s certificate rates compare

When you compare INOVA Federal Credit Union’s certificate rates to the best CD rates out there, you’ll see that, for the most part, these rates don’t stack up. Still, if you prefer a much smaller minimum deposit than many other options out there, then these might be a good fit for you.

Generally speaking, though, we would suggest holding out for a better rate when you have more funds to deposit, or simply opening a CD with the same term length and a higher rate from an online-only bank.

INOVA Federal Credit Union’s money market account options

Gold Money Market

An account offering a decent rate and minimal requirements, other than a high minimum deposit.
APYMinimum Balance Amount to Earn APY
1.25%
$50,000
  • Minimum opening deposit: $50,000
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $50,000
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: None from INOVA FCU ATM, Alliance One or CO-OP Network ATM; $2 for using any other ATMs.
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $29

This account does offer a competitive rate in exchange for a high minimum deposit requirement of $50,000. On the plus side, it doesn’t come with a monthly service charge and does have online banking capabilities. Since this is a savings account, you are allowed to make up to six certain electronic transactions per month, as per Federal Reserve Regulation D.

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Platinum Money Market

The bank’s other money market account option, offering a higher rate and an even higher minimum balance requirement.
APY`Minimum Balance Amount to Earn APY
1.50%
$100,000
  • Minimum opening deposit: $100,000
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $100,000
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: None from INOVA FCU ATM, Alliance One or CO-OP Network ATM; $2 for using any other ATMs.
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $29

This is INOVA Federal Credit Union’s other money market account option, which also offers a high APY rate with a high minimum deposit and balance requirement. As with the Gold Money Market account, this account has no monthly fee, comes with online banking services, and limits you up to six certain transactions per month, as per Federal Reserve Regulation D.

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How INOVA Federal Credit Union’s money market accounts compare

INOVA Federal Credit Union’s money market account rates are on par with some of the best money market accounts out there. The main difference is that most others don’t require such a high minimum opening deposit and minimum balance requirement, which can be a limiting factor for many people. If you don’t have that much cash saved up to put aside, you can easily find another option from another financial institution with just as good a rate (if not better) and more flexible requirements.

INOVA Federal Credit Union IRA Certificate options

IRA Certificates

These offer the same terms and conditions as the credit union’s regular certificates, it’s just the rates that vary.
TermAPYMinimum Balance Requirement to Earn APY
91 day0.60%
$200
6 month0.75%
$200
7 month2.35%
$200
14 month2.25%
$200
14 month3.25%
$50,000 in new money
18 month1.50%
$200
30 month1.65%
$200
30 month3.50%
$50,000 in new money
1 year1.00%
$200
2 year1.60%
$200
3 year1.70%
$200
4 year1.75%
$200
5 year2.00%
$200
6 year2.15%
$200
  • Minimum opening deposit: $200
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: Varies
  • Early withdrawal penalty: Terms of less than 90 days is 30 days’ dividends; terms of 90 days to year is 90 days’ dividends; terms of longer than 1 year is 180 days’ dividends

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Step Up IRA CDs

As with the regular Step Up certificates, these allow you to increase your rate once during the term.
TermAPYMinimum Balance Requirement to Earn APY
91 day0.60%
$200
6 month0.75%
$200
18 month1.50%
$200
30 month1.65%
$200
1 year1.00%
$200
2 year1.60%
$200
3 year1.70%
$200
4 year1.75%
$200
5 year2.00%
$200
6 year2.15%
$200
  • Minimum opening deposit: $200
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $200
  • Early withdrawal penalty: Terms of less than 90 days is 30 days’ dividends; terms of 90 days to year is 90 days’ dividends; terms of longer than 1 year is 180 days’ dividends

Aside from the varying rates, INOVA Federal Credit Union’s IRA certificates don’t differ much from its regular certificate products. As with the regular certificates, these offer fixed rates and terms that range from 91 days to six years.

These certificates require a minimum deposit of $200 to open, which is lower than many other offerings out there. There is also the option to open flexible Step Up IRA certificates, which allow you increase your rate one time during the term if you see the rates go up on the regular certificates.

Lastly, you have the opportunity to earn a higher rate on the 14-month and 30-month IRA certificates if you deposit at least $50,000 in “new money,” or funds that are not currently on deposit in any other INOVA Federal Credit Union accounts.

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How INOVA Federal Credit Union’s IRA CD rates compare

There’s no getting around it — compared to the best IRA CD rates out there, INOVA Federal Credit Union’s rates are pretty low. The wide range of term lengths and the minimum required deposit might appeal to some people, but, again, we say hold off until you have a bit more cash to deposit so you can take advantage of being able to earn a much higher rate.

INOVA Federal Credit Union IRA options

IRA Savings

This IRA offers a very low rate compared to the credit union’s other offerings.
APYMinimum Balance Amount to Earn APY
0.01%
$0.01
  • Minimum opening deposit: None
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $0.01
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: N/A
  • ATM fee refund: N/A
  • Overdraft fee: N/A

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IRA Money Market Savings

A slightly better rate than the traditional IRA savings account, but still not the best out there.
APYMinimum Balance Amount to Earn APY
0.05%
$0.01
  • Minimum opening deposit: None
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $0.01
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: N/A
  • ATM fee refund: N/A
  • Overdraft fee: N/A

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IRA Financial Management Account

This account allows you to earn higher dividends with higher balances.
APYMinimum Balance Amount
0.01%
$0.00 (up to $10,000)
0.10%
$10,000.01 to $25,000
0.20%
$25,000.01 to $50,000
0.35%
$50,000 to $100,000
0.40%
$100,000.01
  • Minimum opening deposit: $2,000
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $0.00
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: N/A
  • ATM fee refund: N/A
  • Overdraft fee: N/A

INOVA Federal Credit Union’s regular IRA savings accounts currently offer the same rates as its regular savings account, with no opening, monthly or yearly fees to boot. Its IRA Money Market Savings and IRA Financial Management Accounts, meanwhile, offer higher rates, especially if you make a larger deposit into the latter account.

While there is no minimum deposit or balance requirement on any of these accounts, you can only contribute up to $5,500 per year, with an additional $1,000 “catch up” deposit allowed for account holders ages 50 and over. Some differences between the traditional and Roth IRAs are:
The traditional has no income limits to open, while the Roth does; and, the earnings on the Roth IRA are 100% tax-free at withdrawal, while the traditional account’s earnings are not. Both accounts allow withdrawals to begin at age 59½, although the traditional IRA requires you to begin making withdrawals by age 70½, while the Roth has no limits on making contributions as long as you’re still earning income.

Early withdrawals on all accounts are subject to a penalty and possible taxes, although certain instances such as healthcare expenses and buying a first home qualify as exceptions. Penalty amounts vary depending on how much you have in the account and how long it’s been open. All accounts are subject to Federal Reserve Regulation D, which limits certain transfers and transactions up to six per month.

How to get INOVA Federal Credit Union’s banking products

If you are over 18 years of age and meet one of the eligibility requirements, you can easily apply for membership at INOVA Federal Credit Union and open any of the above mentioned products online, once you agree to also open a Membership Savings account. You’ll need to provide personal information such as your name, address, Social Security number, government-issued ID number (e.g., drivers license or passport), as well as a debit or credit card or check from another financial institution to fund the account. You can also open an account at one of the credit union’s seven branch locations, or by calling 800-826-5465.

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How INOVA Federal Credit Union’s IRA rates compare

Of INOVA’s IRA three account options, it’s the IRA Financial Management Account that shines, even with its higher balance requirements to earn higher dividends. As with the credit union’s IRA CD rates, the wide range of term lengths and the minimum required deposit might appeal to some people.

Overall review of INOVA Federal Credit Union banking products

Most of INOVA Federal Credit Union’s personal banking products offer rates far below similar products at other institutions. The more flexible minimum balance and deposit requirements on the certificates might appeal to some people, but we would still advise you to do your research and hold out for better offerings. Meanwhile, the rates on its money market accounts are definitely competitive, but the high deposit and balance requirements could be a limiting factor to many people.

All in all, we would say take the time to comparison shop to make sure you get the best rate out there while still reaping the benefits of minimal fees and flexible requirements.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Emilia Benton
Emilia Benton |

Emilia Benton is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Emilia here

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Reviews

Apple Card Review

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

The information related to Apple Card and Uber Visa Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Apple aims to redefine credit card usage with the launch of the Apple Card, which debuted in March 2019. In addition to providing a simplified application process and not charging any fees, the Apple Card encourages members to pay less interest and provides special privacy and security features. Customers also receive a percentage of every Apple Card purchase amount in the form of Daily Cash.

Cardholders earn 2% Daily Cash every time they use Apple Card with Apple Pay. 3% Daily Cash on all purchases made directly with Apple, including at Apple Stores, apple.com, the App Store, the iTunes Store and for Apple services, and using Apple Pay for Uber and Uber Eats and 1% daily cash on store, website or app that doesn't take apple pay.

Daily Cash, which is automatically added to your Apple Cash card in the Wallet app on your iPhone, can be used like cash to make purchases, send money to your bank account, pay down your Apple Card balance and more.

If you have an iPhone 6 or later, you may be eligible for the Apple Card. To apply, simply update your iPhone to iOS 12.4, open the Wallet app and tap the plus (+) sign. Once approved, you can begin using your Apple Card instantly via Apple Pay.

You will also be issued a physical, titanium card to use at locations where Apple Pay is not yet accepted. Purchases made using the titanium Apple Card will earn 1% Daily Cash.

In this review, we’ll break down the pros and cons of the Apple Card as well as show how it compares to the Uber Visa Card.

Where the Apple Card stands out

Rewards rate. The Apple Card offers 2% Daily Cash every time they use Apple Card with Apple Pay. 3% Daily Cash on all purchases made directly with Apple, including at Apple Stores, apple.com, the App Store, the iTunes Store and for Apple services, and using Apple Pay for Uber and Uber Eats and 1% daily cash on store, website or app that doesn't take apple pay.

No fees. You will not be charged additional fees to use the Apple Card. In addition to a $0 annual fee, the Apple Card comes with a $0 returned payment fee, a $0 late penalty fee (although you will incur interest charges) and no foreign transaction fees.

Smart payment suggestions. To help you make informed decisions when paying your card bill, the Apple Card will estimate the interest charges you will incur (in real time), based on the amount you decide to pay.

Also, the Apple Card offers smart payment suggestions to encourage you to pay down your balance more quickly.

Privacy and security. A unique card number is created on your iPhone for your Apple Card. This means that each purchase made using your iPhone is protected by Face ID or Touch ID authorization, as well as a one-time unique dynamic security code.

Additionally, the issuer of the Apple Card, Goldman Sachs Bank USA, does not share or sell your data to third parties for marketing and advertising purposes.

Additional Apple Card benefits

  • Titanium card for places that don’t accept Apple Pay
  • Ability to contact Apple Card support 24/7 by sending a text from Messages
  • Real-time views of your latest transactions and balance via the Wallet app
  • Weekly and monthly spending summaries

Where the Apple Card falls short

No sign-up bonus. The Apple Card does not come with a sign-up bonus.

Application restrictions. If you’re an Android cellphone user, you’re out of luck. The Apple Card is only available if you have an iPhone 6 or later that runs the latest version of iOS.

How it compares with the Uber Visa Card

If you want to earn bonus cash back in popular spend categories without paying an annual fee, there are other credit cards to consider. The Uber Visa Card, for example, offers 4% back on dining, including UberEats, 3% back on hotel and airfare, 2% back for online purchases, Uber and music streaming services, and 1% on everything else.
Additionally, the card also comes with a $0 annual fee and doesn’t require an iPhone to apply.

See how the Uber Visa Card compares to the Apple Card in the table below.

 Apple CardUber Visa Card
Annual fee$0$0
Sign-up bonusN/AEarn $100 after spending $500 on purchases in the first 90 days.
Rewards
  • 2% Daily Cash every time they use Apple Card with Apple Pay. 3% Daily Cash on all purchases made directly with Apple, including at Apple Stores, apple.com, the App Store, the iTunes Store and for Apple services, and using Apple Pay for Uber and Uber Eats and 1% daily cash on store, website or app that doesn't take apple pay.

  • 4% back on dining, including UberEats, 3% back on hotel and airfare, 2% back for online purchases, Uber and music streaming services, and 1% on everything else.

Intro APR on purchasesN/AN/A
Regular purchase APR12.99%-23.99% Variable17.74% - 28.49% Variable
Foreign transaction feesNone0% of each transaction in U.S. dollars.

Unlike the Apple Card, the Uber Visa Card allows you to earn $100 after spending $500 on purchases in the first 90 days. Additionally, the Uber Visa Card offers a higher cashback rate on dining, hotels and airfare.

That said, the Uber Visa Card offers a slightly lower cashback rate on Uber purchases than the Apple Card: The Uber Visa Card offers 2% back on Uber purchases, compared with 3% with the Apple Card. The caveat is you must pay for your Uber purchases via Apple Pay to earn the 3% rate with the Apple Card.

The bottom line

If you’re an iPhone user who wants to earn cash back on every purchase and take advantage of tools that encourage responsible card usage, the Apple Card is a solid option. However, if prefer a card that comes with a sign-up bonus and a higher rewards rate on dining and travel purchases, the Uber Visa Card is the better choice.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Tracy Brackman
Tracy Brackman |

Tracy Brackman is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Tracy here

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Best of, Reviews

The Top 7 Second Chance Bank Accounts

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

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$0$10Nationwide
Wells Fargo Opportunity Checking and Savings Accounts$10, can be waived if you meet requirements$25All 39 states (plus Washington D.C.) that has a Wells Fargo location.
BBVA Easy Checking$13.95$25Nationwide, with the exception of Alaska and Hawaii
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
First National Bank and Trust Company Renew Checking $9.95; $7.95 with direct deposit$25Select areas of Wisconsin and Illinois

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 7 best second chance bank accounts

1. Chime

Chime

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.
  • Send 15 fee-free “friend transfers” P2P payments each month.
  • Nominal 0.01% APY on all deposits.

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 or Visa Plus Alliance network 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.

LEARN MORE Secured

on Chime’s secure website

Member FDIC

2. Peoples Bank Cash Solutions Second Chance Checking

Peoples Bank Cash Solutions

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)

LEARN MORE Secured

on Peoples Bank Cash Solutions’s secure website

Member FDIC

3. Radius Essential Checking

Radius Bank

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

LEARN MORE Secured

on Radius Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

4. Wells Fargo Opportunity Checking and Savings Accounts

Wells Fargo Bank

Wells Fargo’s Opportunity Checking and Savings Accounts are tailor-made for folks with a lackluster credit or banking history. With a $25 opening deposit, you’ll get access to a second chance bank account that offers most of the bells and whistles of a traditional bank account. The account does come with a monthly fee, although it’s possible to waive it if you meet a few requirements (see below).

Account features:

  • $25 minimum deposit to open
  • Free transfers are available between Opportunity Checking and Savings accounts
  • You can choose to opt into overdraft protection
  • Free access to bill pay
  • “My Spending Report with Budget Watch” is available if you want to pay extra attention to where your money is going
  • Free debit card with access to more than 13,000 Wells Fargo ATMs throughout the country

Fees to watch out for:

  • $10 monthly service fee, waived if any of the following are true:
    • You make 10 posted debit card purchases or payments
    • You keep a minimum daily balance of $1,500 in the account
    • You receive $500 total in direct deposits each statement cycle
  • $35 overdraft and returned item fee
  • $12.50 overdraft protection transfer fee
  • $15 fee for excess activity (exceeding withdrawals from your savings account)
  • 3% foreign transaction fee with your debit card
  • $5 for money orders
  • $31 for stop payments

LEARN MORE Secured

on Wells Fargo Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

5. BBVA Easy Checking

BBVA
BBVA’s Easy Checking product is available as a second chance account to customers in the Lower 48 (sorry, residents of Alaska and Hawaii, you’ll have to look elsewhere). Note that you must open the account at one of the bank’s branch locations, or by phone outside of the branch network footprint; you cannot open this account via their website. 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
  • No fee for closing your account within 180 days of opening

LEARN MORE Secured

on BBVA’s secure website

Member FDIC

6. Woodforest National Bank Second Chance Checking

Woodforest National Bank

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 (or $11.95 without a direct deposit), $3.00 monthly paper statement fee (which can be avoided if you sign up for electronic statements)
  • $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
  • $29 overdraft fee (for each charge)

LEARN MORE Secured

on Woodforest National Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

7. First National Bank and Trust Company Renew Checking

First National Bank and Trust Company (WI)

First National Bank and Trust Company’s second chance bank account offering is called Renew Checking. You’re eligible for a new account if you live near the bank’s Beloit, Wisc. headquarters, in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois.

Account Features:

  • No monthly minimum balance
  • $25 minimum deposit to open
  • Free online and mobile banking, bill pay, and e-statements
  • Access to 70,000 no-fee ATMs worldwide through Allpoint and MoneyPass
  • Eligible to upgrade account after twelve months in good standing

Fees to watch out for:

  • $9.95 monthly service fee, or $7.95 with direct deposit
  • $30 early account closure fee (if closed within 90 days of opening)
  • $34.50 overdraft fee
  • $34.50 insufficient funds fee
  • $34.50 stop payment fee

The fee schedule for personal accounts at First National Bank and Trust Company is here.

LEARN MORE Secured

on First National Bank And Trust Company (WI)’s secure website

Member FDIC

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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Erin Millard
Erin Millard |

Erin Millard is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Erin at [email protected]

James Ellis
James Ellis |

James Ellis is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email James here