How To Open a Bank Account Online with No Deposit & Bad Credit

Updated: December 22, 2020

opening a checking account online with no deposit

If you want to open a bank account but don't have a lot of cash on hand to make an initial deposit, you can choose from a list of reputable online banks that let you open an account without depositing any money. Even better, many online banks will work with you even if you have bad credit. 

Can I Open a Checking Account With No Money?

In the past, banks were solely brick and mortar locations, and you had to deposit money to open an account. With most banks going online, and even some being exclusively online, there are plenty of banks that no longer require any money up front. 

In fact, there are a number of benefits that come with taking your banking entirely online. When banks go digital, they have to compete in a much larger marketplace, which gives customers more options to choose from. 

This means that online banks are likely to be more flexible than your neighborhood brick and mortar bank. While you might have to sacrifice in-person banking or the convenience of thousands of ATMs, you can usually find an online bank with minimal or no fees, as well as no opening deposit required. 

10 Bad Credit Online Checking Accounts With $0 Deposit Needed

These days, it's hard to get by without a bank account. From paying bills to making online purchases, using cash for every transaction is pretty close to impossible. 

Fortunately, you can still get a bank account if you have bad credit or can't afford to make an initial deposit. Here are 10 online checking accounts you can open without a deposit. 

1. Barclays

Barclays currently offers an online savings account and an online CD, and it has said in the past that it plans to roll out an online-only checking account. Despite the current lack of an online checking account, the online savings account gets high marks from customers.

At present, Barclays online savings account offers an annual percentage yield (APY) of 0.45%, which is five times the national average. In addition, there are no monthly maintenance fees and no minimum deposit required to open an account. 

Although Barclays does not yet offer an online checking account, it gives you the option to link your Barclays savings account to an external account, which you can then use to pay bills or make purchases. For example, you can link your savings to your PayPal account and then withdraw money that way. 

You can also deposit money into your linked account, making it function much like a checking account. Barclays also lets you set up direct deposit into your online savings account. 

While there are no monthly fees, Barclays charges a $5 fee after you make more than six transfers or withdrawals in a single month. This could pose a problem if you plan on using your account to pay most of your bills or make numerous purchases. 

Another drawback is that Barclays does not offer a debit card with its online savings account, which can make it difficult to withdraw funds on the go. There are also no physical branch locations.  

2. Axos

Axos has been around since 2000, making it a pioneer in digital banking. Although it has physical branches in California, it does the majority of its business as an online bank.

If you have bad credit or don't have the cash for an initial deposit, Axos offers its Essential Checking, which comes with no fees and lets you open an account with just $1. 

The account also comes with no overdraft fees, no minimum balance requirements, and unlimited ATM fee reimbursements, so you can withdraw money from any ATM anywhere, even if it belongs to a third-party bank. 

3. Chime

Chime is an online-only bank that aims to simplify and streamline the banking experience. It sets itself apart from other banks by offering a free checking account, free savings, and a free debit card. 

With the way Chime works, any deposit you make goes directly into your checking account. From there, you can move funds into your savings if you choose. You can also add cash to your account at any of the 60,000 retailers that offer Green Dot. 

There is no minimum balance needed to set up a Chime banking account. Upon signup, you get a Visa debit card that is linked to your Chime account. 

If you need to give someone a check, you simply set it up through the Chime mobile app. Unlike traditional banks, Chime doesn't issue paper checks, so your recipient must wait anywhere between three and nine business days to receive their funds. 

4. Discover

Discover offers both online checking and savings accounts with no monthly fees and no minimum balance required. You can bank at over 60,000 ATM locations around the country, and Discover offers both paper checks and online bill pay. 

One perk that sets Discover apart from the competition is its rewards program. With a checking account, you can earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases every month.  

5. Capital One

Capital One offers its 360 Checking Account, which it advertises as coming with "no minimums, no fees, no worries." This free checking account has no minimum deposit and no monthly fees. 

You can bank at 40,000 ATMs around the country, as well as brick and mortar branches. With the mobile app, you can also access your account from anywhere 24/7. 

6. Credit Unions

If you've been turned away by banks because you have bad credit or can't afford to fund a checking account, it's worth checking out credit unions online and in your area. 

Unlike banks, credit unions are owned by their members, so they are often more flexible about requirements. Many credit unions have flexible membership, requiring only that you fill out the necessary paperwork to join the credit union.

Other credit unions cater to specific professions, such as teachers, firefighters, and military veterans. If you're a member of a professional organization or specific group, it's worth looking online to see if there's a credit union that serves your profession. 

7. Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo offers several online checking accounts, including its Everyday Checking Account. You need a $25 minimum deposit to open an account, but this is lower than many other traditional banks. 

The Everyday Checking Account comes with a $10 monthly fee, but Wells Fargo will waive it if you maintain a minimum $500 daily balance or have $500 or more total direct deposits. 

8. BBVA

BBVA offers a free online checking with no monthly fees and a network of more than 64,000 ATMs. While there is a minimum $25 deposit to open the account, this is more affordable than other banks. 

You also receive access to free online and mobile bill pay, along with a Visa debit card. BBVA is a good choice if you like being able to stop by your bank in person, as it has over 600 branch locations in the South and Southwest. 

The free online checking account comes with unlimited check writing, cash back rewards, and mobile deposits. 

9. Radius

Radius is an online bank that offers a couple of different kinds of checking accounts. If you can't qualify for its Rewards Checking Account, which offers 1% cash back and up to 0.15% APY, you can apply for the Essential Checking Account with no minimum deposit. 

The downside of the Essential Checking Account is the list of fees that go along with it. In addition to a $9 monthly maintenance fee, there is a $500 daily debit card limit as well as restrictions on how much you can deposit. 

If a bad credit history forces you to open an Essential Checking Account, you can upgrade to a Rewards Checking Account after one year as long as you use your account responsibly. 

10. Ally

Ally Bank offers an interest-bearing checking account, which is a rarity even among traditional banks. Account holders receive free checks, mobile bill pay, and a free Mastercard debit card. 

There is no minimum deposit required to open an online checking account, and there are no monthly fees or charges. You also get access to over 43,000 Allpoint ATMs, and Ally will reimburse up to $10 of third-party ATM fees per statement cycle. 

One drawback, however, is that you can't make cash deposits into your account. However, you can deposit checks into your account right from your smartphone. 

Tips for Opening a Checking Account Online With No Deposit

One of the conveniences of online banking is that it's generally quick and easy to open an online checking account. This is especially true if you aren't required to make a minimum deposit to open your account. 

If you're looking to open an online checking account, getting set up is a straightforward process. Here are some tips to get you started. 

1. Start by Choosing a Type of Account

An online checking account can offer a lot of conveniences, but you may have to start with a savings account if your credit is very poor or you have a history of overdrafting accounts. 

With a checking account, you can make a broader range of financial transactions, including direct deposits, cash withdrawals from ATMs, and online bill payments. By contrast, savings accounts tend to be more limited. 

On the other hand, many savings accounts let you earn a small amount of interest. You may also be able to start with a savings account and then upgrade to a checking account after a period of time of responsible use

2. Compare Banks

When you're shopping around for an online checking account, it's important to thoroughly explore all of your options. Find out what each bank offers so you can be certain you're choosing the right bank for your needs.

Generally, you'll find three kinds of banking options: online-only banks, traditional brick and mortar banks, and credit unions. 

Online Banks

Online banks are pretty self-explanatory. These are banks that operate either exclusively online or mostly online, with comparatively few physical branch locations. 

For most people, an online bank is perfectly fine. However, others like knowing they can meet with a bank representative in person if they have a question or concern about their account.  

Credit Unions

Credit unions are owned by their members, so they tend to be more flexible than traditional banks. Because they exist to serve their members, they may also offer more competitive interest rates and better terms. 

On the downside, they are usually community-based and operate fewer branches. If they offer online banking, they sometimes limit membership to individuals who live in the states where they operate. 

Traditional Banks

Traditional, brick and mortar banks tend to offer a bigger menu of products and services compared to credit unions and online-only banks. These days, most large banks also offer online banking, so you don't have to visit a branch in person unless you want to. 

3. Gather the Information You Need to Apply 

You can open an online checking account more quickly if you prepare ahead of time. Before you start your application, gather all the information and documentation you think you might need. 

Each bank has different requirements, but some of the common items banks ask for include your social security number, driver's license number, and proof of ID. If you're opening a joint account with another person, you will also need to provide your co-applicant's information. 

4. Submit Your Online Application 

In many cases, you can fill out and submit your online checking account application within a few minutes. Many banks also issue a decision within seconds of receiving your application. 

If you're approved for an account, make sure you understand all the terms, rates, and fees. Once the bank approves your application, you can start using your new online checking account.  

How to Fund the Online Checking Account When You’re Ready

Once you have your online checking account, you'll want to deposit funds so you can start using it. There are various ways to fund your account. 

  • Direct deposit - Many people choose to deposit their entire paycheck directly into their checking account. Some employers even let you fill out a form to set up direct deposit. If you choose to direct deposit your pay into your checking account, you'll need your bank account number and your bank's routing number. Depending on your employer, you may also need to provide a voided check.
  • Mobile deposit - Technology has made it easier than ever before to add funds to your checking account. If you have a smartphone, there's a chance you won't ever need to set foot inside a physical bank again. With mobile deposit, you can use your phone to snap an image of a check and deposit it into your account. Different banks have various rules, but most require you to sign the back where you normally would and then add something like "for mobile deposit only" underneath.Some banks offer cell phone apps that make mobile deposits fast and easy. You simply scan one or both sides of the check and the banking app transfers the money into your account.
  • Move money from another account - Some banks allow you to link your online bank account to a third-party company like PayPal. This gives you the ability to accept deposits, which you can use to fund your new checking account.
  • Make a cash deposit - If your bank is online, you may still be able to make a cash deposit in your checking account. Options include using a linked ATM, trying a prepaid debit card, or purchasing a money order. 

Conclusion

Having a checking account can make it easier to manage your finances. Fortunately, there are plenty of online banks that offer flexible and affordable online checking accounts. 


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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