California Banks That Don’t Use ChexSystems
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In order to succeed financially in today’s world, you need to have a bank account. Unfortunately, past banking mistakes, which can be added to your ChexSystems report, can make it difficult for you to be approved for a new account.
In California, roughly 5.6% of households are unbanked, meaning they don’t have a bank account. With California’s 39.51 million population, this means that roughly 2.2 million Californians are unbanked. This is a significant problem, especially because living costs in California are typically higher than in many other states.
If you happen to be unbanked in California, don’t worry. Even if your ChexSystems report is preventing you from getting a normal bank account, there are many non-ChexSystems and second chance banks available as alternative options.
This article will introduce the 10 best non-ChexSystems and second chance banks in California. We highly recommend saving this list and reading through the frequently asked questions to educate yourself about non-ChexSystems and second chance banking.
The Best Non-ChexSystems Banks in California
We’ll start off our list of the best banks with three modern banks that have consistently been able to help out those with past ChexSystems records: Chime and BBVA (now PNC Bank). All of these banks feature products that you can conveniently apply for online, and have very high approval odds.
Chime’s mission is to make banking helpful, easy, and free for everyone. As a result, they do not run your credit or check your ChexSystems report when you apply to any of their checking and savings accounts.
Chime is technically not a bank. Instead, they are a relatively new financial technology company that offers banking services provided through The Bancorp Bank, N.A. and Stride Bank, N.A., meaning that their products are still FDIC insured. Here’s why you should consider their Chime Checking accounts and Chime Savings accounts.
BBVA (PNC Bank)
To finish out our top three, BBVA (now PNC Bank) also offers modern, second chance accounts to those who’ve been denied regular checking accounts. Established in 1983, PNC Bank is now one of the largest national banks in the US.
Many Californians in need of a second chance have been able to get approved for VirtualWallet, which is our top recommendation among PNC Bank’s products. VirtualWallet is a checking and savings account bundled into one solution. They call the checking account the Spend account, and the savings account the Growth account. Both accounts come with standard banking features such as direct deposit and same-day transfers.
To more effectively manage your money, you can also take advantage of some of the more advanced features of VirtualWallet. For example, you can set up automatic payments for your recurring bills with VirtualWallet. Then, you can use the Calendar feature to get an overview of all your upcoming scheduled payments to help you better budget your funds.
Top 8 Local California Non-ChexSystems Banks
California is a large state, and there are many great local non-ChexSystems banks to choose from. While we definitely recommend that you check out Chime and BBVA (PNC Bank) first, here are 8 more banks for you to consider.
Bank of the West
Bank of the West has a large presence in California, with its headquarters in San Francisco. They have over 250 locations in the state scattered around all the major metropolitan areas.
Bank of the West offers a second chance account to all Californians known as the Fresh Start Checking account. The account comes with basic banking features and has a $12 monthly fee. You are eligible to waive the fee if you’re able to maintain an account balance above $1,000 or deposit at least $250 to your account per month.
- Address: 1651 Response Rd, Sacramento, CA 95815
- Phone: (916) 564-3555
City National Bank
City National Bank is another local bank headquartered in Los Angeles. They are a subsidiary of the Royal Bank of Canada and offer great products that can help you rebuild your banking history.
We recommend looking into their Personal Savings account, which is the most beginner-friendly account that they offer. You’ll only need $50 to open the account and you’ll start earning interest on your balance immediately. There is a $5 monthly maintenance fee, but this is easily waived as long as you maintain a daily balance of at least $100.
- Address: 525 Flower St, Los Angeles, CA 90071
- Phone: (213) 673-9900
Foothill Credit Union
Foothill Credit Union is a smaller local institution based in east Los Angeles. This makes them especially suitable if you prefer a smaller credit union for a more personalized experience. Among 33 Google reviews, their Arcadia location has an average rating of 4.4 out of 5.
Their Rebound Checking account is designed for those who have experienced financial missteps in their past banking history. The account comes with a free debit card and access to a large network of ATMs. The account has a $10 monthly service fee, but you can reduce this to $6 by maintaining a balance of at least $50.
- Address: 30 S 1st Ave, Arcadia, CA 91006
- Phone: (626) 445-0950
HomeStreet Bank was founded in 1921 to offer commercial banking and lending to the west coast. Though they still use ChexSystems, they are usually more lenient with your history as long as your negative items aren’t too severe.
The Free Checking account is a great place to start if you need an account fast. The account is truly free, with no minimum service charges and no minimum daily balance required. All you need is $100 to open the account, and you can enjoy free online banking, bill pay, and access to over 37,000 fee-free ATMs across the country.
- Address: 1110 Rosecrans St UNIT 101, San Diego, CA 92106
- Phone: (619) 400-0450
Los Angeles Federal Credit Union
Los Angeles Federal Credit Union (LAFCU) has a handful of locations that serve most counties in Southern California. Los Angeles residents who have had past ChexSystems records may be able to have a second chance with LAFCU.
In fact, LAFCU has a special account called the Second Chance Checking dedicated to just that. This account has a $10 monthly fee but comes with most of the standard features of the account, along with a free debit card. After 12 months of good standing with the account, you can upgrade to their Free Checking account.
- Address: 201 N Los Angeles St #201, Los Angeles, CA 90012
- Phone: (877) 695-2328
Self-Help Federal Credit Union
Self-Help Federal Credit Union promotes providing economic opportunity for all, particularly among minorities and low-wealth families and communities. They have locations all over California.
We recommend their Access Checking account, which doesn’t require a minimum opening balance. There is a $5 monthly service fee, but you can waive this fee by depositing at least $500 per month. You also get a free debit card.
- Address: 5261 E Kings Canyon Rd #105, Fresno, CA 93727
- Phone: (877) 369-2828
Union Bank has a large presence among the three west coast states of California, Oregon, and Washington. They use ChexSystems, but tend to be a lot more lenient than traditional banks.
With any amount greater than $0, you can open a Bank Freely checking account. There are no monthly service charges on this account, as well as $0 ATM fees at any ATM worldwide. You also face no fees for overdrawn balances less than $5.
- Address: 590 N 6th St, San Jose, CA 95112
- Phone: (408) 279-7400
US Bank is a national bank with many locations in California. If you’ve had past negative ChexSystems records, they may be willing to offer you a second chance checking account.
Specifically, US Bank’s Safe Debit account is a great product to start managing your money. You’ll get standard banking features such as direct deposit and low balance alerts. You cannot waive the monthly $4.95 service charge, but you are getting a great account with full customer support from one of the largest banks in the nation.
- Address: 4947 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94124
- Phone: (415) 330-1824
What Are The Benefits of Having a Checking Account?
According to Next City, 15% of the unbanked in California said they did not have a bank account because they don’t trust banks with their money. A big part of this is due to the fact that they have faced overdraft fees and forced account cancellations in the past.
These are all valid concerns, and you may be wondering why it’s still worth trying to get a bank account. The truth is, having a checking account is a basic requirement in today’s world. Getting one should still be your top priority, since bank accounts can still provide a wide array of benefits, such as:
- A safe place to store your money. A bank is still one of the most reliable places to safely secure your money. Most legitimate accounts are also FDIC-insured, which means that up to $250,000 of your money is safe even if there is a bank failure.
- Easier to make payments. Bank accounts also come with a debit card, making it easy to just swipe to make payments. You won’t have to worry about bringing cash with you.
- Overall convenience. A checking account allows you to quickly look at your balance and budget for upcoming expenses. You also get basic features such as direct deposit, making it easy to get your paycheck from your job. This and a variety of other features simply make managing your finances much easier with a bank account.
On top of these benefits, you could also pair your checking account with a savings account. This way, you can schedule automatic transfers to your savings account and build up good saving habits. This will allow you to grow your savings considerably over time.
What Is The Difference Between Non-ChexSystems Banks and Second Chance Banking?
When we discuss non-ChexSystems and second chance banks, there are some subtle differences between the two. The main distinction is that non-ChexSystems banks ignore your ChexSystems record altogether, while second chance banks are simply more forgiving with your ChexSystems history.
In terms of the actual bank accounts, non-ChexSystems accounts usually come with all the features you’d expect from a regular account. There are usually no restrictions.
On the other hand, there might be additional restrictions on a second chance account. For example, you might have a limited number of transactions per month, or a larger monthly service fee. The good news is that banks will usually let you upgrade your second chance account to a regular account after 6 to 12 months of good standing.
Overall, you should try to apply for both non-ChexSystems and second chance accounts. Accounts such as the Chime Savings are great alternative options that anyone without a bank account should try to apply for immediately.
Do Wells Fargo, Union Bank, and Other Popular California Banks Use ChexSystems?
Yes, Wells Fargo and Union Bank both use ChexSystems. However, Union Bank does offer their Bank Freely account, which is considered a second chance account as we saw earlier. Wells Fargo also offers a Clear Access Banking account which is their second chance product.
Other popular California banks that use ChexSystems include the following:
- Bank of America
- Capital One
Note that while these banks use ChexSystems, you may inquire about whether they have second chance products. However, people tend to have higher approval rates with the top 10 banks we’ve provided in this article compared to these more popular commercial banks.
Do Banks Require a Credit Check to Open an Account?
No, banks usually do not require a credit check to open an account. However, credit unions such as LAFCU from our list above usually require a credit check when you apply for membership.
What Should I Look For in a Non-ChexSystems or Second Chance Account?
There are many non-ChexSystems and second chance accounts in California for you to choose from. We recommend picking one of the options from our list, but you might choose to do your own research. In any case, pay attention to the following features when comparing and considering different accounts.
- FDIC insurance. As we’ve seen earlier, FDIC insurance protects your money in case of a bank failure. Always make sure your account is FDIC insured.
- A debit card. A debit card provides convenience of payment and access to ATMs. Make sure your account comes with one.
- Low or no monthly fees. Of course, you should prefer accounts with no monthly fees. However, if fees are unavoidable, try to find an account with a monthly fee of $10 or less. Also look for ways you can waive the monthly fee by satisfying some requirements.
- Overdraft protection. It’s always reassuring to know that your account comes with overdraft protection measures. This could save you from additional fees.
Conclusion and Next Steps
For those who have struggled with banking in the past, consider a non-ChexSystems or second chance account. Any one of the 10 banks that we’ve shared in this article can help you get back on your feet financially.
The Chime Savings is a great account that we recommend above the others. The account features no monthly fees and a high-interest yield that you can use to immediately start earning more with your savings.
Our Top Pick for Banks that Don't Use ChexSystems is Chime.
When doing research, Credit Help Info relies on credible and authoritative sites. These research sources are provided so that you can see exactly where we get our information.
Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by The Bancorp Bank, N.A. or Stride Bank, N.A., Members FDIC.
1. There’s no fee for the Chime Savings Account. Cash withdrawal and Third-party fees may apply to Chime Checking Accounts. You must have a Chime Checking Account to open a Account.
2. Chime SpotMe is an optional service that requires a single deposit of $200 or more in qualifying direct deposits to the Chime Checking Account each month. All qualifying members w overdraw their account up to $20 on debit card purchases and cash withdrawals initially, but may be later eligible for a higher limit of up to $200 or more based on member's Chime Ac deposit frequency and amount, spending activity and other risk-based factors. Your limit will be displayed to you within the Chime mobile app. You will receive notice of any changes to may change at any time, at Chime's discretion. Although there are no overdraft fees, there may be out-of-network or third party fees associated with ATM transactions. SpotMe won't c transactions, including ACH transfers, Pay Anyone transfers, or Chime Checkbook transactions. See Terms and Conditions.
*The Annual Percentage Yield (“APY”) for the Chime Savings Account is variable and may change at any time. The disclosed APY is accurate as of November 17, 2022. No minimum balance required. Must have $0.01 in savings to earn interest.
The average national savings account interest rate of 0.21% is determined by FDIC as of November 17, 2022 based on a simple average of rates paid (uses annual percentage yield) by all insured depository institutions and branches for which data are available. Visit National Rates and Rate Caps to learn more.
About the Author
Chris Morgan is a credit expert and founder of Credit Help Info. He has been featured in Addition Financial, GOBankingRates, MSN Money, Yahoo Finance, and many other publications. He has read hundreds of books and resources on finance and the credit industry. Because he did this, you don’t have to. As a school teacher for over 20 years, Chris enjoys taking complicated material and breaking it down into manageable information that’s easy to understand.