Best California Second Chance Checking Accounts

Updated: June 8, 2021 

california second chance checking accounts

If you're a Californian with a less than favorable banking history, you may have trouble opening a new checking account, which can make it hard to pay bills and make purchases. Fortunately, many banks offer a way to rehabilitate your banking record with a second chance checking account. 

What Is a Second Chance Checking Account and How Does It Work?

A second chance checking account is exactly what it sounds like: a fresh start or second chance to show you can manage your checking account responsibly. These types of accounts are generally designed for people who have a negative banking history that shows up on their ChexSystems or TeleCheck reports.

In some cases, banks that offer second chance accounts don't run a ChexSystems or TeleCheck report at all, so you can apply for a new account without worrying about a bad banking history.

In other cases, banks with second chance account options will run a credit check, so it's possible to qualify with a negative banking history as long as your credit score is high enough. You can also find some banks that will approve you with a bad ChexSystems report as long as it doesn't include any fraud or unpaid items. 

While many banks with second chance accounts charge a monthly maintenance fee, it's possible to find some that don't. In many cases, you can also upgrade your second chance account to a regular account with more features after a certain period of responsible banking.  

The 37 Best California Second Chance Checking Accounts

If you live in California, you have quite a few options when it comes to second chance checking accounts, including a number of banks that don't use ChexSystems. Here are 37 banks and credit unions willing to work with customers who have a negative banking history and need an opportunity to rehab their banking profile. 

#1. BBVA

BBVA has a second chance checking account that goes by the name Easy Checking account. This account comes with cash-back rewards, no limits on check writing, no-fee ATMs in the BBVA network, and no monthly maintenance fees.

This can be a good option if you like the convenience of mobile banking but also want access to a brick and mortar branch. You can open an account with a $25 deposit, and BBVA has branches throughout the state. 

On the downside, there is a $13.95 monthly maintenance fee, a $10 fee when you order a debit card, and $3 per-transaction fees when you use an ATM outside of the BBVA network. 

#2. Chime

Chime is an online-only bank that offers a Spending Account that allows you to write checks. There are no monthly service fees or overdraft charges, and you can even get your paycheck up to two days early with direct deposit.

While Chime doesn't have any physical branches, you can bank at over 32,000 ATMs without paying any fees. You can also transfer money, pay bills, and deposit checks online.

The main downside is the lack of paper checks, but Chime will send paper checks on your behalf if you need this service. You should also be aware of the $200 daily limit on online money transfers. 

#3. SoFi

SoFi is an online-only bank that doesn't use ChexSystems, so you can open a second chance checking account without worrying about a negative banking history holding you back. While the bank lacks brick and mortar locations, SoFi customers can access more than 55,000 ATMs for free. 

SoFi also offers paper checks at no charge, which is unusual for an online-only bank. If you need the convenience of writing paper checks, it's an option worth checking out. 

#4. American United Federal Credit Union

American United Federal Credit Union offers its Fresh Start Checking account with free account access at over 30,000 ATMs. The bank also operates physical locations in California and Utah. 

There is a $20 minimum opening deposit requirement. The account also comes with a $7 monthly maintenance fee, which the credit union will drop to $4 if you maintain an average balance of $750 or more. 

#5. Armed Forces Bank

Armed Forces Bank is a military bank that offers checking with a $25 minimum opening balance requirement. There is a $10 monthly service charge, which is waived if you sign up for direct deposit.

While Armed Forces Bank doesnt use ChexSystems, it will run a credit report to determine your banking eligibility. This can make it a good option if your credit is good, but you have a negative banking history with ChexSystems. 

#6. Bank of the West

Bank of the West, which offers a Fresh Start Checking account, uses ChexSystems, however, it will work with you as long as your report doesn't include any reports of fraud and your negative entries are more than 12 months old.

The account comes with a $12 monthly fee that's waivable if you use your debit card at least 10 times per month, maintain an account balance greater than $1,000, or sign up for a minimum of $250 in direct deposits. The bank operates more than 200 physical branches throughout California. 

#7. Bank OZK

Bank OZK has a second chance checking account called Pathway Checking. There is a $50 minimum opening balance requirement, and the account comes with a $10 monthly maintenance fee.

Customers get free online and mobile banking, along with free electronic statements. The bank has physical branches in several major California cities.   

#8. California Community Credit Union

California Community Credit Union has several physical locations in California. Its New Beginnings Checking account requires a beginning deposit of $25, and you must open a savings account first.

If you maintain a good banking history for one year and have no overdrafts within that period, you can apply for a standard checking account. There is a $15 monthly maintenance fee.  

#9. Corporate America Family Credit Union

Corporate America Family Credit Union offers a Fresh Start Checking account available to anyone who meets the following criteria:

  • Live within 25 miles of a physical branch
  • Employed by a sponsor company
  • Family member of current credit union member
  • Member of The Hope Group scholarship fund

The account requires has a $10 monthly maintenance fee, and you must keep at least $100 in a separate savings account.

#10. E-Central Credit Union

E-Central Credit Union offers a second chance checking account called the E-Builder Checking Account. To open an account, you must first deposit $200 in a separate savings called the Membership Savings Account. 

There is a $50 minimum opening balance requirement, as well as a $10 monthly maintenance fee. After 12 months of responsible banking, you can upgrade to a better account. 

#11. Excite Credit Union

Excite Credit Union offers its Fresh Start checking account, which requires a $50 minimum opening deposit, as well as a savings account with the credit union. There is a $15 monthly maintenance fee. 

#12. Federal Employees West Federal Credit Union

Federal Employees West Federal Credit Union uses Telecheck instead of ChexSystems, which may make it easier for some individuals to qualify for a checking account. Membership is open to employees and relatives of employees of certain federal agencies and companies located in California. 

#13. Foothill Credit Union

Foothill Credit Union offers its Rebound Checking, which comes with a monthly service fee of $10. The fee drops to $6 a month as long as you maintain a minimum balance of $50 in your account.  

#14. Fort Sill National Bank

Fort Sill National Bank is a military bank, but membership is open to anyone. The bank will run a credi report, but it doesn't use ChexSystems, which may make it easier for those with a negative banking history to qualify for an account. 

#15. GO2bank

GO2bank is an online-only bank, but it doesn't use ChexSystems, which can make it easier to qualify for a checking account. There is a $5 monthly maintenance fee, but the bank will waive it if you sign up for direct deposit. 

#16. GTE Financial

GTE Financial is a credit union with a second chance checking option called the Go Further account. You'll pay a $9.95 maintenance fee per month, but you can get it waived if you opt for eStatements, have at least 15 transactions in a month, or deposit a minimum of $500 in direct deposits each month. 

#17. Heritage Community Credit Union

Heritage Community Credit Union has a second chance checking account called the 2nd Chance Checking account. While there is no minimum balance required to maintain the account, you'll need a $25 minimum deposit to open an account, and there is a $10 monthly service charge. 

#18. HomeStreet Bank

HomeStreet Bank uses ChexSystems, but it offers a second chance checking account called Bank On Checking designed for people with a negative banking history, so the bank is more flexible with these applicants. There is a $50 minimum opening deposit requirement, but the account comes with no monthly maintenance fees and no minimum balance requirements. 

#19. Los Angeles Federal Credit Union

Los Angeles Federal Credit Union offers a Second Chance Checking account if you don't qualify for a regular checking account. The monthly maintenance fee is $15, which drops to $10 if you sign up for direct deposit. 

After 12 months of good banking, you're eligible to upgrade to a better checking account. The minimum required opening deposit is $10, and you must be a member of the Los Angeles Charitable Association, a Los Angeles city employee, or a relative of a current credit union member. 

#20. Mid-Cities Credit Union

Mid-Cities Credit Union offers a Second Chance Checking Account with a $10 monthly maintenance fee. The credit union charges fees for a number of transactions, including $10 for basic check cashing and $10 per bank statement, so it's important to thoroughly review the list of fees before opening an account. 

#21. Navy Federal Credit Union

With a membership of 8 million, Navy Federal Credit Union is the largest credit union in the United States. Members can bank in-person at any of the 350 brick and mortar locations or one of 30,000 no-fee ATMs in the Navy Federal network.

Membership is open to active and reserve military servicemembers, veterans, Department of Defense employees and contractrors, and family members of those who qualify. 

#22. North County Credit Union

North County Credit Union offers a Fresh Start Checking account that requires a $25 minimum opening deposit and comes with a $15 monthly maintenance fee. Account holders must also sign up for a minimum of $100 a month in direct deposits, and the credit union notes that "Visa® Check Card access may be restricted" with this account.  

#23. OneUnited Bank

OneUnitedBank offers a second chance checking account called the U2 E-checking account. There is a $50 minimum deposit requirement and a $12 monthly maintenance fee. 

Account holders get a free Visa debit card and no-fee banking at 25,000 ATMs in the OneUnited Bank network. OneUnited Bank is the largest Black-owned bank in the United States and has offices in Los Angeles, Boston, and Miami. 

#24. Peoples Cash Solutions

Peoples Cash Solutions will work with you even if you have a negative banking history with ChexSystems or TeleCheck, however, you can't have any fraud in these reports. There is a minimum $30 opening deposit requirement, as well as a $4.95 monthly maintenance charge.  

#25. Premier America Credit Union

Premier America Credit Union has a Fresh Start Checking Account you can open with a minimum $25 deposit. The monthly maintenance fee is $13, however, the credit union will drop it to $10 if you sign up for a minimum of $200 in direct deposits each month.  

#26. Premier Community Credit Union

Premier Community Credit Union offers a Fresh Start checking account that comes with a $10 monthly maintenance fee. You can upgrade to a Basic Checking account after 12 months, which charges a $5 monthly fee with no transactions and $0 if you make at least one transaction per month. 

#27. Priority One Credit Union

Priority One Credit Union offers a New Leaf Checking Account that requires a minimum $25 opening deposit and comes with a $15 monthly maintenance fee. You must also sign up for a minimum of $500 in direct deposits each month, and withdrawals are capped at $300 per day. 

While the New Leaf Checking Account is designed for those with a less than favorable banking history, the credit union requires a minimum credit score of 520 to qualify for an account. 

#28. Radius Bank/LendingClub

Radius, which has rebranded to LendingClub, offers a second chance checking account called the Essential Checking account. There is a $10 minimum opening deposit, as well as a $9 monthly service charge.

Daily debit card transactions are capped at $500, and mobile check deposits are limited to $1,000 per day and $2,000 every 10 days. After 12 months of responsible use you can ask to upgrade to a Rewards Checking account.   

#29. Self-Help Federal Credit Union

Self-Help Federal Credit Union offers its Access Checking account to people with a negative banking history. There is a $5 monthly maintenance fee, but the credit union will waive it if you have any one of the following:

  • Average daily balance of $2,500 across any Self-Help Federal Credit Union account, including savings and certificates
  • Monthly combined direct deposits of $500 or more
  • Are 24 and younger or 65 and older 

There is no minimum balance required to open an account and no minimum daily balance requirement. 

#30. Strata Credit Union

Strata Credit Union, formerly known as Kern Federal, offers a Fresh Start checking account that requires a minimum $30 opening deposit and comes with a $10 a month maintenance fee. There is no minimum balance requirement, and you can't have any unpaid items on your ChexSystems report. 

#31. UNIFY Financial Credit Union

UNIFY Financial Credit Union calls its second chance checking account the Right Start Checking. There is a minimum $25 opening deposit requirement and no monthly service charges. 

The account comes with no minimum balance requirements, and you can bank online or in-person at several brick and mortar locations in California. 

#32. Union Bank

Union Bank doesn't specifically offer a second chance checking account, but you can apply for its Bank Freely checking account as long as your negative ChexSystems report is more than one year old, doesn't contain any unpaid items, and doesn't list any instances of fraud. There are no monthly maintenance fees, and you can open an account with any amount greater than $0.  

#33. Upward Credit Union

Upward Credit Union offers second chance checking with its Renew Checking account. There is a one-time $25 processing fee to open an account, and you must maintain a $100 balance in your regular share account. 

There are no monthly service or maintenance fees with the Renew Checking account. After nine months of responsible use, you can request to upgrade to a Regular Checking account. 

#34. US Bank

US Bank offers second chance checking with its Safe Debit Account, which comes with a $4.95 monthly maintenance fee. This is a checkless account, however, which means you can't write paper checks.  

#35. Varo Bank

Varo is another online-only bank that lacks physical branches but makes it easy for those with a negative banking history to open a checking account. Varo doesn't run a ChexSystems check, and its second chance checking account has no monthly fees and no minimum balance requirement. 

#36. Washington Savings Bank

Washington Savings Bank aims to help you "get back into the financial system" with its Online Rewards Checking account. According to the bank's website, there are no "harsh ChexSystems requirements" to open this account.

The account has no minimum balance requirement and no deposit or withdrawal fees. However, there is a $14.95 monthly maintenance fee, and you'll need a minimum $10 deposit to open the account.  

#37. Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo offers a type of second chance checking with its Clear Access Banking account. There is a $25 minimum opening balance requirement and a $5 monthly maintenance fee that's waivable for account holders between 13 and 24 years old.

You can't write paper checks with this account, but it offers mobile and online banking, as well as online bill pay. Wells Fargo has the most physical branches of any bank in the U.S., which makes it a good option for people who prefer to bank in person.

Conclusion

It can be tough to manage your finances without a bank account, which is why second chance bank accounts can be a big help to people with a negative banking history. If past financial mistakes are holding you back, a second chance checking account can be a great option for rebuilding your banking profile. 


About the Author


Mike Pearson

Mike is a recognized credit expert and founder of Credit Takeoff. His credit advice has been featured in CNBC, Investopedia, CreditCards.com, Bankrate, Huffpost, The Simple Dollar, Reader's Digest, LendingTree, and Quickbooks. Read more.

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