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Advice

Here's why you may be denied a checking or savings account and what you should do

Just like applying for a new credit card, you have to be approved to open a bank account. Though it may be easier to qualify, here's what to do if you're denied.

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Just as credit history plays a big role in getting approved for a new credit card, your past banking history helps determine whether or not you qualify for a checking or savings account.

When you go to open a new account, the bank may use a consumer reporting agency like ChexSystems or Early Warning Services to pull your checking and savings account history. You can think of these companies in the same way as credit bureaus that track consumers' payment history and debts.

Unlike when card issuers pull your credit report, however, there is no direct effect on your credit score when banks pull your report from one of these agencies.

Opening a bank account is easier than applying for a credit card, but consumers should be aware that they can still be denied — likely because of negative actions found on their ChexSystems or Early Warning Services report.

Such negative activities that show up on your report and hurt your approval chances include bouncing checks, leaving an overdraft balance unpaid, abusing a debit card or applying for too many accounts in a short period of time, according to credit bureau Experian.

If you are unable to open a new bank account, here is what you should do.

1. Ask the bank to reconsider

Before moving forward, it's worth asking the bank to reconsider their denial of your application, especially if you are an existing customer. Though they use information from reporting agencies, it's ultimately up to the bank to decide whether or not a customer gets approved for a new application. 

Keep in mind that federal law requires banks or credit unions to tell you why you were denied for a bank account, so make sure you get that information.

2. Get a copy of your report

If the bank won't reconsider its decision, your next step should be to check what's on your consumer report.

Consumers can access a free copy of their ChexSystems report once every 12 months, as well as whenever they get denied for a bank account if the reason stems from the report.

To obtain yours, go to ChexSystems' website or call 800-428-9623. For those looking to access their Early Warning Services report, visit their website here.

3. Check your report for errors

Just like checking your credit report for errors, you should review your ChexSystems or Early Warning Services report for any fraudulent activity or discrepancies in information, like an incorrect name or Social Security number.

If you find any errors, make sure you gather any supporting documents before disputing them with the respective consumer reporting agency.

4. Clean up your report

Once you've reviewed your report and made sure there were no errors, start fixing any of the negative actions you see.

For example, immediately pay off any unsettled fees and inquire about having the negative action removed from your report once paid off. Otherwise, negative entries can remain on your report up to five years.

5. Look into getting a 'second-chance account'

When you get denied for a checking or savings account, there is a way you can improve your chances for the future, called a "second-chance account." Banks that offer these accounts don't look at your ChexSystems report or negative activities when qualifying you so it's easier to get approved.

Some of the major banks offer second-chance banking accounts, like BBVA and Wells Fargo. There are also options through local and online banks, like Chime, which has zero fees and offers overdraft protection and direct deposit.

Since these accounts are offered to consumers who have been denied a bank account, do your research beforehand. Some may come with restrictions like higher monthly fees and/or minimum balance requirements. The good news, however, is that they allow to to rebuild your banking history over time so that you can later qualify for a standard checking or savings account.

When you're ready to apply for a traditional checking or savings account

Remember that your goal is ultimately to get a standard checking or savings account that makes it easy to manage your money and at a low, or zero, cost.

Having both a checking and a savings account at the same bank can help you manage your money even more easily by allowing you to set up automatic transfers from your savings to your checking.

Best for a checking/savings combo is the Ally Interest Checking Account and Ally Online Savings Account. Both come with zero monthly maintenance fees, no minimum deposit or balance requirements and a popular mobile app.

With the Ally Interest Checking Account, Ally Bank account holders have access to over 43,000 fee-free Allpoint ATMs. If you use an out-of-network ATM anywhere nationwide, Ally will reimburse you up to $10 per statement cycle for any fees charged.

Ally Interest Checking Account

Ally Interest Checking Account
Information about the Ally Interest Checking Account has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the bank prior to publication. Ally is a Member FDIC.
  • Monthly maintenance fee

    $0

  • Minimum deposit to open

    $0

  • Minimum balance

    None

  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    0.10% less than $15,000 minimum daily balance; 0.50% over $15,000 minimum daily balance

  • Free ATM network

    43,000+ Allpoint® ATMs

  • ATM fee reimbursement

    Up to $10 per statement cycle

  • Overdraft fee

    $25

  • Mobile check deposit

    Yes

Terms apply.

When it comes to saving some of your cash, the Ally Online Savings Account offers customers a much higher return than they would earn keeping their money in a traditional savings account with a national average yield on savings accounts of just 0.05%.

Ally Bank Online Savings Account

Ally Bank Online Savings Account
On Ally Bank's secure site
  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    0.60%

  • Minimum balance

    None

  • Monthly fee

    None

  • Maximum transactions

    Up to 6 free withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle *The 6/statement cycle withdrawal limit is waived during the coronavirus outbreak under Regulation D

  • Excessive transactions fee

    $10 per transaction

  • Overdraft fees

    $25

  • Offer checking account?

    Yes

  • Offer ATM card?

    Yes, if have an Ally checking account

Terms apply.

For those who want to shop around more, start by checking out CNBC Select's top picks for no-fee checking accounts and the best high-yield savings accounts.

 

Learn more: How much cash should you keep in your savings and checking account? A financial planner weighs in

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the CNBC Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.