The Best Second Chance Banks and Credit Unions in California

If you’re one of the over 1 million households in California without a bank account, access to a growing economy can seem out of reach.

Banks and credit unions use a company called ChexSystems to monitor almost all checking account holders in the state. Most people get flagged for bouncing too many checks or not being in a position to pay excessive returned check fees (“NSF”). Your bank then either closes your checking account or denies you the opportunity to open a new account because of the information contained in the ChexSystems database.

And with the vast majority of banks and credit unions in California using ChexSystems, it’s very hard to march across the street to another bank in hopes of getting a new account.

Fortunately, there are banks and credit unions in California who do not use ChexSystems. There are are also banks and credit unions who offer so-called Second Chance Bank Accounts. They are hard to find, but when you do it is a great relief to know there and financial institutions who want your business. And they won’t charge you an arm and leg for it.

CheckingExpert has helped thousands of people just like you open second chance banking accounts. We’ve selected the best accounts in California for 2019 based on acceptance rates, checking account features and benefits, and the accounts with the lowest fees. Best of all, you can open an account today!

Get an account now!

Best Second Chance Bank Account of 2019

BBVA Online Checking

Many Californians have heard of BBVA Bank (62 branch locations in the state) and the BBVA Online Checking Account is our hands-down winner for the best second chance bank account for residents of California.

BBVA is owned by a multi-billion dollar international bank and has won several awards for their leading products and online services. They are a fully insured FDIC member.
Sign Up Today. Takes About 3 Minutes.

Features include mobile deposits, direct deposit, online bill payment, and NO monthly or annual fees. Setting up an account is almost too easy and the smartphone app tools are some of the best we’ve reviewed. Simply stated, the BBVA Online Checking account has a combination of features no other bank can match. These include:

  • NO ChexSystems
  • NO monthly fees or service charges
  • NO monthly account balance minimums
  • NO fees at over 64,000 Allpoint® and BBVA ATMs worldwide
  • FREE award-winning mobile app (one of the best we’ve reviewed)
  • FREE Visa® debit card you can personalize with your favorite photo
  • FREE online banking, bill pay, and mobile deposits
  • FREE money transfer to and from any email or mobile phone in the U.S. via Popmoney®, Venmo®, and other instant transfer services
  • FREE dedicated team of mobile bankers you can contact via text, email, or phone
  • FREE cash back rewards for everyday debit card purchases with Simple CashBack
  • FREE unlimited check writing
  • FREE Visa Zero Liability protects you against fraudulent purchases made on your debit card

Applying is simple. The BBVA website is simple and easy to interact with. There is a $25 minimum deposit required to open an account. You’re online approval is immediate and you’ll never be required to step foot in a branch unless you want to. BBVA is one of the most friendly banks for those who need a second chance at a checking account. The entire process from start to finish takes about 3 minutes. Best of all, they know California and Californians.

b-lewis-bbva-testimonialFor anyone interested, I signed up for a BBVA Bank checking account. I have been using the new checking account, debit card, online website, direct deposit, and customer service for over a month now. I have to say I am genuinely impressed with everything they have done with me and my account.

So far it seems like the ideal bank.

B. Lewis, BBVA Customer
Open a BBVA Online account today!

The Runners Up: List of the Best Second Chance Banks and Credit Unions in California

We’ve surveyed banks and credit unions across California to find local, regional, or national financial institutions that offer “Second Chance Bank Accounts” or what some banks call Fresh Start Checking, Opportunity Checking, or New Start Checking.

Most of these institutions use ChexSystems or EWS, but are willing to look at opening these kinds of accounts on a case-by-case basis. Many times, they require a personal visit to a branch and may offer accounts that come with monthly fees or minimum balance requirements. While not as easy and fee-free as the BBVA Online Checking account, they do offer you an alternative.

Financial InstitutionProduct
BBVA  (Our Top Pick)Online Checking
Chime Bank  (Our Runner Up)Chime Bank Checking & Savings Account
Alliance Credit UnionFresh Start Checking
Allied Healthcare Federal Credit UnionHealthy Start Checking
Alta Vista Credit UnionOpportunity Checking
American United Federal Credit UnionFreshStart Checking
Bank of the OzarksPathway Checking
Corporate America Family Credit UnionFresh Start Checking
E-Central Credit UnionE-Builder Checking
Energy One Federal Credit UnionFresh Start Checking
Foothill Credit UnionRebound Checking
Heritage Community Credit Union2nd Chance Checking
HomeStreet BankBank On Checking
Befit Financial Federal Credit UnionFresh Start Checking
Kern Federal Credit UnionFresh Start Checking
Los Angeles Federal Credit UnionSecond Chance Checking
Mid Cities Credit UnionSecond Chance Checking
North County Credit UnionFresh Start Checking
OneUnited BankU2 Checking
Credit Union of Southern CaliforniaFresh Start Checking
PNC BankFoundation Checking
Premier America Credit UnionFresh Start Checking
Priority One Credit UnionNew Leaf Checking
UNIFY Financial Credit UnionRight Start Checking
Ventura County Credit UnionSecond Chance Checking
Wells FargoOpportunity Package

Did we leave your financial institution off this list of The Best Second Chance Banks in California? Has there been a change in any of the listings? Please let us know.