How To Open A Checking Account If You Have Bad Banking History

Everyone makes mistakes, but if yours prevents you from opening a new checking account, that could be a problem. 

Although not every bank checks your credit report, most will review your history with other banks to determine your eligibility. If you’re lucky, they will offer a second chance and decide to let you bank with them. 

If you have bad credit, your options are less limited than you think. If you’ve tried and failed to open a bank account, it may be because the bank used ChexSystems or a similar service. 

These companies alert banks to warning signs like unpaid bank fees and overdrafts, which is why the bank probably rejected you. 

While not every bank utilizes these companies, the drawback is that they may have strict requirements you have to meet to keep your account. 

The experts at explain how to open a checking account if you have a bad banking history.

Look For Banks That Don’t Check Your History

Just because a financial institution doesn’t use ChexSystems doesn’t mean it doesn’t review your history at all. They may perform a credit inquiry when you submit your application. That’s because banks want low-risk customers with a good track record. 

When the bank conducts a credit check, it will contact one of the three major credit agencies and request a copy of your credit report. This record contains every transaction you’ve ever made with your bank or credit card. So if you have any negative marks, the bank will see them and may reject your application. 

However, there are a few places that don’t use ChexSystems or credit inquiries. But as mentioned earlier, these banks have tighter rules and may even charge extra fees. Alternatively, you could try becoming a member at a credit union or an online bank, as these options can be more lenient. 

Find Banks That Offer Second Chance Accounts

Not every bank will reject you just because you have a rocky history. Some are sympathetic toward customers who take steps to build good financial habits and their credit and may offer “second chance” bank accounts. These types of accounts are similar to standard checking accounts; they just have some restrictions.

For example, second chance bank accounts may limit the number of times you can write a check or come with additional service fees. These extra charges are a hassle, but they’re a small price to pay for improving your standing. 

After a certain period, your bank may offer to upgrade your account to a regular checking account if you avoid a negative balance.

Ask For A Second Chance

If a bank rejects your application, it doesn’t hurt to request a review, especially if your credit score fell for reasons that weren’t necessarily your fault, such as a job loss. If you can, visit a branch in-person to discuss your circumstances with an associate. Emphasize that you have a plan to change your bad habits and work on your finances.

Be Proactive About Your Situation

You aren’t the only person in the world with bad credit, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Fixing your credit isn’t impossible, and neither is finding a bank that offers checking accounts for people in your situation. 

Start by ordering a copy of your banking history from ChexSystems, which offers one free report per year. This will allow you to see everything you need to improve to make a game plan moving forward. 

The other benefit is that you can see if there are any potential errors in your credit history. If that’s the case, you can dispute the mistake and have it waived from your report. Keep in mind that if there is a record you can’t fight, there is a five-year waiting period between the date it was recorded and when it will clear.

Alternatives To Checking Accounts

If you’ve tried these steps already and banks still won’t approve your application or a checking account, you could consider these options:


  • Investment bank accounts: These don’t require credit checks and usually provide checking accounts. However, the downside is that investment bank accounts generally require a large deposit to open.


  • Prepaid debit cards: These let you use ATMs and other bank services and give you a cashless payment option. However, you may have to pay higher transaction charges.


  • Secured credit cards: To open a secured credit card, you need to pay a deposit, which usually doubles as your credit limit. Most secured cards don’t charge transaction fees, and some even have rewards programs like unsecured credit cards.


  • Banks Editorial Team. “How to Get a Checking Account with Bad Credit.”, 21 May 2020,