2017 RANKING & REVIEWS
TOP RANKING BEST BANKS FOR BAD CREDIT
Can You Open a Bank Account with Bad Credit?
The strains on the economy and the lasting impact of the Great Recession have left many U.S. consumers in a difficult situation when it comes to their personal finances. From a low credit score to past problems with checking accounts, quite a few consumers are wondering how to open a bank account with bad credit.
A bank account is essential in today’s marketplace; to pay bills, make purchases both in-person and online, and to be able to manage money effectively. Unfortunately, many banks check the backgrounds of account applicants, and if they find issues, the applicant may be denied.
Award Emblem: Best Banks for Bad Credit
Luckily, there is an option.
Many banks and even credit unions throughout the country are offering bad credit bank accounts. These checking, saving, and credit accounts are designed to help consumers regain their financial footing while enjoying many of the traditional benefits of having a bank account.
The following is a list that highlights the best banks for people with bad credit, the best online bank accounts for bad credit, and the best checking accounts for bad credit.
- Axiom Bank
- BBVA Compass
- City National Bank
- People's Cash Solutions
- PNC Bank
- United Bank
- U.S. Bank
- Wells Fargo
- Woodforest National Bank
This list is sorted alphabetically (click any of the above names to go directly to the detailed review for that bank)
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Top 12 Best Banks for Bad Credit
(List is sorted alphabetically)
BBVA Compass Bank
City National Bank
Peoples Cash Solutions
Woodforest National Bank
Don't Miss: High Yield Bank Accounts
Methodology for Selecting the Best Banks for Bad Credit
For consumers with bad credit, getting a bank account can be difficult, particularly a checking account. Many banks will look at a consumer’s past banking history and credit before determining whether or not they’re eligible to open a new account.
Fortunately, if your credit isn’t perfect, there are an increasing number of financial institutions that are willing to extend a checking account. To review and rank the best banks for bad credit, we considered those institutions that have both specific second chance account options, as well as those banks that are considered generally friendly to consumers with bad credit.
The information used to create this review of the best banks for bad credit is publicly available, although we did use specific criteria in our rating system, such as the type of checking accounts for bad credit being offered and what features are available, even when you’re banking with bad credit.
Click here for a detailed explanation of our methodology: AdvisoryHQ’s Methodology for Selecting Top Banks for Bad Credit.
Detailed Review—Top Ranking Banks for People with Bad Credit
After carefully considering the best banks for people with bad credit, we created the following list of the top 12. As you continue reading, you’ll find detailed reviews for each of our picks, as well as specifics of some of the factors we used in our decision-making process.
Axiom Bank Review
Axiom Bank is based in Central Florida and operates as a federally chartered community bank with a range of financial products designed for the diverse needs of customers. Axiom Bank offers retail banking, including checking and savings accounts, and there are 20 branch locations in the state of Florida.
Axiom offers online banking options, prepaid debit card programs, and commercial real estate and business loans. Axiom also offers many financial education tools and resources for consumers.
Key Factors That Enabled Axiom Bank to Rank as a Top Bank for People with Bad Credit
Below are key reasons Axiom Bank was included in this ranking of the best banks for people with bad credit.
Axiom is a unique bank that offers a particular checking account for bad credit consumers, called Opportunity Checking. With opportunity checking, participants can change their financial future by opening a bank account with bad credit, and then establishing a strong history of managing that account.
The principle behind the Opportunity Checking account is that Axiom believes in second chances and offering a fresh start for customers who’ve had challenges with banking in the past.
Online Banking with Bill Pay
As well as being a bank account for bad credit, Opportunity Checking accounts also offer the convenience of online banking and bill pay options through Axiom.
Online banking includes the following features:
- There is no cost to use it with any personal checking or savings account
- Account holders can access their information 24/7
- Secure encryption ensures all information is protected
- Account holders can use it to see if a check has cleared
- Transfer funds between Axiom Bank accounts
- Download info into financial management software
Bill pay is also free of charge to account holders, and it’s possible to set up advance and recurring payments. Payee information is saved, and payments are usually credited to the recipient faster than they would be with the use of traditional checks.
Axiom Debit MasterCard
When enrollees use this checking account for bad credit, they also receive a convenient Axiom Debit MasterCard. These debit cards feature chip technology at no additional cost, as well as an array of MasterCard-specific benefits which include:
- MasterCard SecureCode, which is a private code used to make online shopping even more secure
- MasterCard Global Service is a 24/7 service to help clients with reporting of lost or stolen cards, emergency card replacement, and more
- MasterCard Airport Concierge
- Extended Warranty
- Identity Theft Resolution Services
Image source: Pixabay
As mentioned above, Axiom Bank is unique because, in addition to offering a bank account for bad credit consumers, this financial institution also has a full online library of Financial Education resources. Topics are divided into three primary categories: Personal, Business, and Wealth Management.
More specific topics include “Balancing Your Checkbook,” “Credit Scoring,” and “Developing a Budget.” This can be a great way for consumers with bad credit to not only get a second chance at opening a checking account but also to learn more about financial fundamentals that will help them build a stronger future regarding their money and how it’s managed.
BBVA Compass Bank Review
BBVA Compass Bank is a top U.S. bank franchise with locations throughout the Sunbelt region. It’s among the biggest banks in several states, including Alabama, Texas, and Arizona, as well as being a leading Small Business Administration lender. Services offered by BBVA are divided into broad categories, which include retail banking, commercial banking, and wealth management.
In terms of consumer-driven retail banking, services include checking accounts, express loans, credit cards, mortgages, and more. BBVA Compass is also a top bank for bad credit because of their signature Second Chance Banking options.
Key Factors That Led Us to Rank BBVA Compass Bank as One of the Best Banks for Bad Credit
BBVA Compass was selected for this ranking of the best banks for opening a bank account with bad credit for the following reasons.
Suite of Products
What’s unique about BBVA as compared to other banks offering checking accounts for bad credit is that this financial institution has a full suite of second chance products. The concept is that people need a fresh start, and the second chance banking services from BBVA allow people to recover from their past mistakes.
BBVA also highlights the importance of having access to the right banking services and tools to make beneficial changes for a better financial future.
Products for second chance banking customers include two different checking accounts, as well as savings, prepaid cards, and a credit card option.
Easy Checking is a bad credit bank account that offers a number of features including access to online and mobile banking, convenient funds access, and automatic alerts that let account holders know if their balance is low. The monthly fee is low, and if account holders have a year of positive activity with the Easy Checking account, they can request an upgrade to Free Checking.
Interested consumers can apply for the Easy Checking account online. They first submit an application for the ClearChoice Free Checking account, and if they don’t qualify, they are then potentially offered the second chance Easy Checking account.
As well as checking accounts for bad credit, BBVA Compass also offers customers the opportunity to use the BBVA Compass ClearSpend Prepaid Visa Card. This card can be ordered from an app, and then funds can be loaded manually at a Visa ReadyLink retailer or BBVA Compass branch. This card can also be used with Direct Deposit, and uniquely, after 30 days of using the card, it will automatically recommend a budget based on your spending habits.
There are no monthly or annual fees, and there is no fee for reloading the card or making transactions.
Additionally, there are no overdraft fees, and this card requires no credit check during the application process.
Optimizer Secured Credit Card
In addition to opening a bank account with bad credit, BBVA Compass also features the Optimizer Credit Card. This card is secured, meaning a collateral savings account backs the credit line.
It’s specifically designed for people who either want to build or repair their credit history.
It operates like a traditional credit card, and the savings account used as collateral also earns interest. The credit line can be increased at any time if deposits are made to a savings account, and the interest rate is competitive. This card is accepted anywhere Visa is, and there are Visa perks that come with it, including Visa Zero Liability.
City National Bank Review
City National Bank maintains locations throughout the country, including in Southern California, the San Francisco Bay Area, Nevada, New York City, Nashville, and Atlanta. There are 75 affiliated City National offices throughout the U.S., and the company and its subsidiaries have assets of more than $36 billion.
The City National experience is built on personal attention and the building of long-lasting relationships with clients. They offer a full array of retail banking services and products including options for people with less-than-perfect credit.
Key Factors That Enabled City National Bank to Rank as One of the Best Banks for Bad Credit
The list below highlights why City National Bank was included as one of the best banks for people with bad credit.
Bounce Back Checking
This is an exclusive bank account for bad credit. It’s designed for consumers who have been turned down for a checking account, and it has a number of perks including no required minimum balance.
When consumers open a Bounce Back checking account, there is a small service fee of $6.99 if the account has an associated direct deposit. The fee is $8.99 if the account doesn’t meet that criteria.
If there is a situation where there are non-sufficient funds in the account, the first two fees are waived for Bounce Back Checking account holders.
Online and Mobile Banking
When you open a Bounce Back account at City National, you can take advantage of conveniences including online and mobile banking.
With City National online banking, account holders have constant access to their account, which is a good way to avoid overdrafts and other issues. Users can view balances, transfer funds and make loan payments online.
City National also offers Mobile Banking so users can deposit checks, make transfers, check their balances and pay their bills. The mobile deposit option lets customers deposit a check without having to visit a City National Bank.
City National doesn’t just make it possible for people to open a bank account with bad credit. This bank also makes it simpler for customers to avoid the situations that put them in a bad situation to begin with, such as overdrafts.
There are several overdraft options available, but customers are required to opt-in and authorize the bank to pay overdraft transactions that involve ATMs or one-time debit card purchases.
Customers can opt-out as well, which means their card would be declined at the point of sale if they didn’t have enough money to cover the transaction.
Gold Debit MasterCard
Checking accounts from City National Bank include a Gold Debit MasterCard, which features the benefits of both a debit card and an ATM card. Cardholders can use the card to make cash withdrawals, transfer funds between internal accounts, and check balances.
It can also be used to make purchases anywhere MasterCard is accepted.
Participants can also use MasterCard Secure Code, which adds more security to the card for making online purchases, and it can be used with Apple Pay for one-touch transactions and heightened security.
GoBank is an innovative and technologically-driven way to bank; instead of dealing with a big bank and the associated fees, customers can do their banking via their mobile device through the GoBank app. GoBank is part of Green Dot Bank, Member FDIC, so the money deposited into these accounts is FDIC insured.
A GoBank account offers most, if not all, of the account options available through a traditional checking account, but it’s based on a risk-management system that lets almost any adult obtain a checking account.
Key Factors That Allowed GoBank to Rank as One of the Best Online Checking Accounts for Bad Credit
Listed below are some of the critical reasons GoBank was included in this ranking of the best banks and online checking accounts for bad credit.
No Overdraft Fees
GoBank really strives to transform how everyone does banking, including those people searching for online bank accounts for bad credit. As part of this, the bank has no surprise fees, including no overdraft fees. There are also no NSF fees and no ongoing balance requirements when you do your checking with GoBank.
The monthly membership fee is $8.95, but this is waived in any month you make qualifying direct deposits totaling at least $500.
Even though GoBank is a mobile-based checking application, it’s easy to deposit cash. You can make free deposits at any Walmart register, and there are also other participating national retailers that accept GoBank deposits, including Rite Aid and CVS, although some retailers may have a small fee for making deposits.
Just take your cash and debit card to the counter, swipe your card, and the money is automatically deposited.
You can also set up direct deposit or use your mobile device to make photo deposits.
As part of this mobile checking app, users can quickly and easily send money as well. There is an online checkbook feature that lets account holders pay their rent or any other bill from their mobile device. If it’s required that a traditional check is sent to a payee, GoBank will mail the check for free.
There is also a feature that lets users quickly send money to friends, family, or anyone via their mobile device. They will receive an email or a text letting them know they’ve received money from you.
If you need to get quick cash, GoBank also has a network of more than 42,000 free ATMs, which can be located using the app.
Budget and Fortune Teller
GoBank offers budget features called “Fortune Teller.” First, account holders create a budget so they can gain a better understanding of their income versus their expenses. You can then compare your budget estimates to your transaction history to see how you’re doing.
You can create customized budget reminders that will allow you to receive alerts based on your expenses and income.
Then, there is a feature called Fortune Teller, available through the app. With Fortune Teller, users add their budget and ask the tool whether or not a purchase they’re considering is a good idea, based on their budget.
OneUnited describes itself as a bank for urban communities, with the mission of providing affordable financial services that support economic development in the communities it serves. Services and products offered by this unique online bank include origination and purchasing of mortgage loans, with a focus on low-to-moderate income communities. Other products include checking and savings accounts, money markets, and CDs.
OneUnited is an FDIC-insured bank boasting technology and Internet-driven services as well as offices in California, Florida, and Massachusetts.
Key Factors That Enabled Us to Rank OneUnited as One of the Best Banks for Bad Credit
Below are specific reasons OneUnited was selected for this ranking of the best banks for bad credit and the best online checking accounts for bad credit.
United U2 e-Checking
One of the signature OneUnited online checking accounts for bad credit is called Unity U2 e-Checking. This second chance checking account requires only $50 to open, and it includes access to free online and mobile banking.
Account holders can get cash without paying a surcharge at more than 25,000 ATMs throughout the country, and they can enjoy the convenience of being able to deposit their checks using the OneUnited app’s Mobile Remote Deposit Capture.
Other advantages of this checking account for bad credit include free purchase rewards, low monthly account maintenance fees, and no transaction or per check charges.
As well as individual bank accounts for people with bad credit, OneUnited is unique because they also make personal bank membership available to customers, which includes package deals on various savings and checking products.
There is a membership specifically for second chance customers, called the U2 Membership. With this, participants receive free purchase rewards, a free Visa debit card, and low monthly maintenance fees and minimum balances on their accounts.
As part of this membership, U2 customers can open a UNITY Holiday Club savings account in addition to their U2 Checking, which carries no minimum balance to avoid service charges and requires only $100 to earn annual interest.
The OneUnited Mission
OneUnited is unique compared to any other bank because on top of being a dedicated Community Development Financial Institution, they also have a commitment to improving financial literacy for people in the communities they serve.
This is done through a range of workshops and events, from summer workshops for students to learn about being smart with money to events like the Money on my Mind Symposium. This is in conjunction with offering affordable financial services.
OneUnited also strives to treat all customers with respect, personal attention, and dignity.
Since the majority of OneUnited’s services are delivered online, they have a strong dedication to innovative technology that also makes it inexpensive and convenient to bank with them.
Account holders with second chance checking and savings products from OneUnited can check their balances anywhere using mobile banking, pay their bills online with the bill payment service, receive balance alerts, transfer funds between OneUnited and other banks, and make mobile remote deposits.
OneUnited also offers FinanceWorks, which is a free online banking suite that lets account holders manage their finances easily and efficiently. Features of FinanceWorks include the ability to manage multiple accounts, track spending, create and maintain a budget, prepare taxes, and more.
People’s Cash Solutions Review
People’s Cash Solutions is an online checking account for bad credit, which is offered by Peoples Bank. This bank account for bad credit is FDIC insured and is based on the motto of “People Helping People.” Peoples Bank is based in Paris, Texas, and has often been ranked as one of the best community banks in the U.S.
While the bank is based in Texas, people from all over the country can submit an online application to open one of these bank accounts for bad credit, which serve as an alternative to using cash and prepaid card products.
Key Factors That Led to The Inclusion of People’s Cash Solutions as One of the Top Banks for College Students and High School Students
In the list below are some of the main reasons Peoples Cash Solutions was selected for this ranking of the top checking accounts for bad credit.
Image source: Pixabay
While this is an online checking account for bad credit, People’s Cash Solutions makes it easy for customers to add money to their accounts. They can sign up for direct deposit, so employers directly deposit paychecks into the account. This saves time and also money in terms of check cashing fees.
Account holders can also add money over the phone, via PayPal, through wire services, and from government deposits. It’s also an option to deposit money over the phone using a debit card from an outside institution or from a credit card cash advance.
Regardless of whether or not an account holder has bad credit, Peoples Cash Solution is designed to offer a flexible and valuable way to bank and enjoy the benefits of a checking account. Some of the account benefits that are included with this bank account for people with bad credit include the following:
- Free point-of-sale transactions
- No fee for opening an account
- No load fee
- No application fee
- No minimum balance requirements
- No per-check fee
- Access to worldwide ATMs
- You can be approved even if you’re in ChexSystems or TeleCheck
- No credit check
Online Bill Pay
Rather than spending the time and effort required to write traditional checks to pay bills, Peoples Cash Solutions account holders can use the online bill pay system.
Options include manual bill payment or the setup of an automatic recurring payment that’s handled effortlessly for you each month. You don’t have to mail checks or visit the post office to pay bills, and this service is secure and free.
To qualify for online bill pay, account holders are required to actively manage and maintain their Second Chance Checking account for 30 consecutive days.
For many consumers looking for a second chance checking account, access to a debit card is one of the primary benefits. Peoples Cash Solutions accounts come with a Debit MasterCard so they can make withdrawals at ATM locations, write checks, and shop online and at any merchant where MasterCard is accepted.
PNC Bank Review
PNC Bank has maintained a strong and positive reputation in the world of personal banking for more than 160 years, and as well as serving the needs of individuals, PNC also offers small business, corporate, and government banking services and products.
Regarding retail banking, PNC offers deposit accounts, cash management and investment options across 19 states. It’s an accessible bank with more than 2,600 physical branches, online and mobile service options, and 9,000 ATMs.
Key Factors Leading Us to Rank PNC Bank as One of the Best Banks for People with Bad Credit
Cited below are reasons PNC was included in this ranking of the best places to open a bank account for bad credit.
Available at some branches, PNC offers Foundation Checking, which is a unique opportunity for consumers seeking a second chance checking account. This program is designed specifically for those people who have issues on ChexSystems report; while there are some fees for using it, they are relatively minimal, particularly when compared to similar accounts at other banks.
When account holders apply and enroll in this checking program, they are required by PNC to take a workshop that shows them how to best manage their finances, and more specifically, their checking account.
If you do open this account, there are options for upgrading it after six months of positive account management.
In addition to offering a checking account for bad credit, PNC also features prepaid card options for consumers who’d like to consider that route. The PNC SmartAccess Prepaid Visa Card can serve as a convenient alternative to a checking account that’s simple to use and load with money.
Using this card also allows account holders to set up direct deposit, without fear of overdraft fees, and much like standard checking accounts from PNC, account holders can track their balances and spending any time and from anywhere.
It’s also a secure and safe option for shopping at brick and mortar retailers, as well as online.
The card also includes access to a SmartAccess Mobile app for iPhone or Android devices.
PNC Bank Visa Debit Card
For customers who opt to open a Foundations or standard checking account with PNC, there is the option to link the account with a PNC Bank Visa Debit Card. Features of this card include the following:
- There are a variety of money management tools that allow users to track their purchases online and via their mobile device
- The PNC Debit Card includes security and privacy protection, as well as built-in fraud protection, including Visa’s Zero Liability Fraud Protection
- The PNC Purchase Payback program offers rewards for shopping at many retailers, as well as discounts at select merchants
- You can opt for a customized Affinity Debit Card that shows support for a sports team, university, or cause
After six months of maintaining your checking account with PNC, you may become eligible for a Virtual Wallet account, which is a signature banking option.
Virtual Wallet is a comprehensive technological banking solution with budgeting features including Money Bar and Spending Zone that show you precisely what’s coming in compared to what you’re spending.
Account holders can also look at their categorized and month-to-month spending, transfer funds, and more. Virtual Wallet is divided into three components. Spend is a user’s primary checking account, Reserve is for short-term savings, and Growth is a long-term savings account.
United Bank Review
United Bank is a community financial institution serving states in the Southern U.S. since 1904. United Bank combines a concept of personalized, hometown service with innovative products and options for customers. Personal banking products are extensive and include deposit accounts such as checking and savings, as well as mortgages and loans, online banking, and IRAs.
United Bank is a Member FDIC. This bank takes security and privacy seriously and maintains the highest standards for all accounts and customers to make sure their financial information is protected.
Key Factors That Enabled United Bank to Rank as One of the Best Banks for Bad Credit
The following list highlights some of the key reasons United Bank was included in this ranking of the leading banks for bad credit.
United Bank offers an option specifically for customers who have low or no credit history and ratings or have had past issues with a checking account. This second chance account can be upgraded to another United Bank checking option after six months in many instances. If an upgrade is available, it’s automatic for the customer.
There is a $10 monthly maintenance fee for the account. There is no debit card offered to holders of this particular account, but if they’re eligible for an upgrade after a six month period, they will be able to receive a United Bank debit card.
Online and Mobile Banking
With a Gateway Checking account from United Bank comes the opportunity to utilize online and mobile banking. Users do have to pay a small fee to use these services when they’re second chance account holders, but it gives them the option to manage their money from a centralized location, see all of their transactions as soon as they post, pay bills online, and view check images.
Features of the United Bank mobile app include:
- The ability to view account balances on-the-go
- Search recent transactions
- Transfer funds between United Bank accounts
- Pay bills
- Make deposits
- Find nearby branches or ATMs
- Freeze a debit card if it’s been lost or stolen
- Use thumbprint authentication with some Apple devices
Advantage Prepaid Cards
As well as Gateway, a bank account for bad credit, United Bank also offers Advantage Prepaid Cards. These reloadable, prepaid debit cards bring consumers a sense of flexibility and convenience because they combine the purchasing ability with the security of a debit card, without the fear of a credit check. These prepaid cards can also be useful for consumers who will be traveling or doing online shopping because of their security capabilities.
The Advantage Card allows users to have funds directly deposited onto the card at any time; no credit check is required, and it can be used anywhere MasterCard debit cards are accepted. It eliminates check cashing fees, and you can sign up to receive free text and email alerts.
The Advantage Card also includes personal online financial tools for better budgeting and account management.
As well as offering checking accounts for bad credit, customers of United Bank can take advantage of a variety of savings options as well.
The Personal Savings account includes interest compounded and paid quarterly, and as long as the balance remains above $100 throughout the month, there is no service charge.
The Christmas Club account is designed so that people can save for the holidays or any special event throughout the year. It includes automatic transfer options and competitive interest rates.
U.S. Bank Review
As part of U.S. Bancorp, U.S. Bank is one of the largest and most well-known retail and business banking institutions in the country. Services range from retail deposit accounts for individual consumers to options for corporate clients. U.S. Bank is currently ranked as the fifth largest commercial bank in the U.S., and the company operates more than 3,100 banking offices in 25 states throughout the country.
Some of the personal banking products available to clients of U.S. Bank include checking and savings packages, mortgages and refinancing, and a range of credit and prepaid cards.
Key Factors That Led Us to Rank U.S. Bank as One of the Top Banks for Bad Credit
Listed below are key reasons U.S. Bank was included in this ranking of the best options for opening a bank account with bad credit.
The U.S. Bank Easy Checking account is the standard option for people who want the convenience and flexibility of a checking account, even if they have less than perfect credit. This basic checking account includes all of the fundamentals, such as a debit and ATM card, and access to online and mobile banking.
This checking account includes the U.S. Bank Visa Debit Card, which lets account holders take advantage of no-fee transactions at U.S. Bank ATMs.
Account holders can also enjoy mobile check deposit and bill pay with this account.
The standard fee for this account is only $8.95 a month, but that goes down to $6.95 with online statement enrollment. The account fee can be waived altogether if the customer has online statements and either a combined monthly direct deposit total of at least $1,000 or an average account balance of $1,500.
U.S. Bank Secured Visa Card
The U.S. Bank Secured Visa Card is an option designed for people who have had past credit issues.
Features of this secured Visa card include the following:
- Zero Fraud Liability for unauthorized transactions
- Fraud protection that lets cardholders know of any unusual activity
- Online banking
- Automatic Bill Pay
This card for bad credit applicants also has FlexControl, which is an online tool designed to help cardholders avoid interest and late fees with automatic payments.
To fund a U.S. Bank Secured Visa Card, cardholders can use their checking or savings account. The credit line of the card is the same as the amount used to fund those accounts, and the deposit is used as assurance that the total balance of the card can be paid.
This is an excellent option for the consumer who wants to rebuild their credit. When a consumer has managed the card responsibly and consistently for a year, they may be able to move to an unsecured U.S. Bank card.
U.S. Bank Visa Gift Card
For a consumer who has less-than-perfect credit but doesn’t want or is unable to open a traditional checking account, there is the U.S. Bank Visa Gift Card. This card is available in a range of denominations and can be loaded with the dollar amount specified.
It can be used at any retailer or online merchant where Visa is accepted, and a lost or stolen Visa Gift Card can be replaced if the account number is available.
Another prepaid card option is the U.S. Bank Visa TravelMoney, which is a prepaid, reloadable Visa card that is easier than traveler’s checks and safer than cash.
With a U.S. Bank checking account, consumers can begin building a stronger financial situation, and one of the tools U.S. Bank offers to help them along the way is eBills, an online bill pay service.
Account holders can log in and pay bills in a matter of minutes just by entering what needs to be paid and to where it should go. It’s backed by stringent online banking security standards, and there is an online risk-free guarantee.
USAA is a financial services company offering insurance, banking, investment and retirement products, services and tools. This credit union serves the needs of active military, former military, and their families, as well as cadets and midshipmen. Benefits of joining USAA include free financial resources and personalized savings opportunities.
Some of the general benefits of being a member of USAA include competitive variable rate credit cards, free nationwide ATM access, competitive mortgages and auto loans, and special APRs during military deployments.
Key Factors Considered When Ranking USAA as One of the Best Banks for Bad Credit
Below are details of why USAA was included in this ranking of the best banks for bad credit and bank accounts for bad credit.
USAA was included in this ranking because according to resources like RebuildCreditScores.com, this is a bank that doesn’t use ChexSystems to determine whether or not customers should receive a checking account.
Although USAA does use Early Warning Services, which is another way to check the banking history of applicants, some consumers with bad credit may be able to open a checking account at this bank serving the military community and their family.
A good checking account for people with less than perfect credit histories is Free USA Secure Checking, which has no monthly service fees.
Secured Credit Card
USAA is unique from many of the other names on this list of banks for people with bad credit because they offer two separate secured credit card options, both of which are designed for individuals who are working to build or rebuild their credit.
The first option is the USAA Secured Card American Express, which is a real credit card secured by an interest-earning CD that you open when you open the credit account. Your credit improves, and you learn to make payments without going over your available credit limit. There is no penalty APR, and the annual fee is only $35.
The USAA Secured Card Visa Platinum can also help members establish and rebuild their credit, with a credit limit determined by an interest-bearing CD.
Certificates of Deposit
Since CDs back the secured credit card options available from USAA, it’s valuable also to look at these savings options independently regarding their advantages for members.
One CD option is the Variable Rate CD, which is ideal for USAA members seeking a rate of return that’s higher than a savings account, along with the flexibility to make deposits. The interest rate changes daily, and deposits can be made at any time without extending the security rate.
The Adjustable Rate CD is perfect for those USAA members who want a guaranteed rate of return, along with the option to request a one-time rate adjustment if rates rise.
The Fixed Rate CD is less flexible, and it includes a guaranteed rate of return throughout the life of the CD, but no additional deposits are allowed.
USAA Savings Account
If account holders are looking for a savings option as well as a checking account, the USAA Savings Account has no monthly service fee and no minimum balance requirement. 60,000 USAA-preferred ATMs can be used for free, and money can be transferred to any bank in the U.S. without a fee.
Savings account transactions and account information are available through the USAA app, and qualifying members can deposit checks using the USAA mobile app. A standard USAA savings account can be opened with as little as $25.
Wells Fargo Review
Based in San Francisco, Wells Fargo is one of the country’s largest financial institutions with a brand driven by the desire to build lifelong relationships, give customers the guidance and tools they need to make financial decisions, and put the best interest of clients at the forefront of everything they do.
Wells Fargo serves the diverse banking needs of individual consumers through their personal banking sector, as well as small businesses and commercial enterprises. Some of the personal products available through Wells Fargo include deposit accounts, loans and credit, insurance, investing and retirement options, and wealth management.
Key Factors That Led to Our Ranking of Wells Fargo as One of the Best Options for Opening a Bank Account with Bad Credit
Below are primary reasons Wells Fargo is an excellent place to open a bank account with bad credit.
Opportunity Checking from Wells Fargo is a convenient and flexible checking account for bad credit consumers. Opportunity Checking has a monthly $10 service fee, but this can be avoided if customers meet one of the following criteria:
- Ten debit card purchases or payments during a statement cycle
- A minimum daily checking balance of $1,500
- Total qualifying direct deposits of $500 or more each statement period
The minimum opening deposit is only $50, and account holders can access their information through Wells Fargo Online Banking. They also receive access to 13,000 Wells Fargo ATMs and more than 6,000 retail banking stores.
The Wells Fargo Opportunity Checking account is unique from most of the other names on this ranking because it’s also one of the bank accounts for people with bad credit and overdraft protection options. Many second chance checking accounts don’t provide opportunities for overdraft protection, but with Opportunity Checking you can also open an Opportunity Savings account.
This savings account lets you set up automatic, free transfers from your checking account, and you can also use it to get optional overdraft protection for your checking account.
My Spending Report
Opportunity Checking and Savings account holders receive access to the full suite of Wells Fargo online banking tools, one of which is My Spending Report.
My Spending Report is a comprehensive resource for tracking all of your purchases made with every Wells Fargo account you hold. It’s a free money management tool that sorts your spending into automatic categories, and it also tracks deposits, so you have a full overview of your financial picture.
You can also gain insight as to your budget and spending by viewing the graphs and charts available through this tool, and you can create spending goals with Budget Watch.
Secured Visa Credit Card
Along with offering checking accounts for bad credit, Wells Fargo also features the Secured Visa Credit Card. This card is designed to help consumers with bad credit rebuild their history. After a period of time, cardholders may become eligible to upgrade to an unsecured card.
The Wells Fargo Secured Visa Credit Card requires a minimum $300 security deposit, which is placed into a designated Collateral Account. Cardholders must still make monthly payments as they’re not automatically deducted each month. The card functions like a credit card and includes Visa benefits such as Zero Liability Protection, chip technology, and emergency card replacement.
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Woodforest National Bank Review
With more than 740 branches throughout most regions of the country, Woodforest National Bank is one of the largest and most visible community banks in the U.S. Woodforest has a history spanning 35 years, and they offer a full selection of personal and business banking products.
Woodforest differentiates itself by building their services on the needs of their customers, as well as their excellent customer service and responsive employees. Personal banking options include checking and savings accounts, online and mobile banking, debit cards, and various loan options.
Key Factors That Led to Our Ranking of Woodforest National Bank as One of the Top Banks for People with Bad Credit
The detailed list below highlights some of the primary reasons Woodforest was selected as one of the top banks for bad credit.
Woodforest National Bank doesn’t just offer bad credit bank accounts, but also resources to help consumers strengthen their financial knowledge, including online courses. One of the signature online course options is “Banking GPS,” which is a financial literacy course that is divided into three easy-to-understand modules.
- “Take That To The Bank” which is all about banking basics, and also provides information on the services provided by banks.
- “Checking Account Tune Up” is a module that centers on how checks are processed, and it also features actionable checking account management tips.
- “No Doubts with Debit Cards” highlights how debit card transactions work and how to use a debit card responsibly.
Second Chance Checking
Second Chance Checking is the signature checking account for bad credit consumers available from Woodforest. This bad credit bank account requires only a $25 minimum deposit to open, and a low one-time setup fee of $9.99. The monthly maintenance fee is $11.95 without direct deposit, but this can be lowered to $9.95 with a monthly direct deposit.
Second Chance Checking is also one of the rare bank accounts for people with bad credit with overdraft protection options. Account holders can opt into services including an overdraft transfer option, a revolving line of secured or unsecured credit , and also standard overdraft services that cost a fee each time they’re used.
Consumers who bank through Woodforest can apply for the Secured Visa Card, which is designed to help them improve or establish their credit history. It offers the convenience and accessibility of a credit card, and since it’s linked to a secured savings account, cardholders also simultaneously earn interest on that balance.
When you make a purchase with your card, no one knows it’s secured, and it comes with all of the standard Visa card benefits, including Zero Fraud Liability, auto rental collision damage waiver coverage, and extended warranty coverage.
When you open a Second Chance account with Woodforest, you can take advantage of the mobile banking app for your iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, or Android device.
Features available through Woodforest Mobile Banking include:
- Account activity and balance information
- Bill pay
- Mobile deposit
- Funds transfer options
- Locate the nearest Woodforest branch or ATM
- Contact information for reporting a lost or stolen debit card
Conclusion—Top 12 Options for Bad Credit Bank Accounts and Banks
Just because you’ve made financial missteps in the past or have a less than sterling banking record no longer means you’re unable to open a checking account or bank with a leading financial institution.
Increasingly, modern banks are embracing the concept of second chance banking or offering customers bank accounts for bad credit. The result of these checking accounts for bad credit is that consumers can learn to rebuild their finances while enjoying the benefits and convenience of things like having a checking account and debit card.
The above names are some of the best banks for bad credit. Each offers unique features specifically beneficial to consumers who don’t have perfect credit, plus new opportunities to more effectively manage your finances.
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