If you have ever written bad checks (either on purpose or by mistake), or have had other problems with a bank, there is a good chance that you are on a list maintained by a company called ChexSystems. This is not a good list to be on! If you are on the list, chances are, you are having a very difficult time getting a new bank account. ChexSystems is a Consumer Reporting Agency (like Experian or TransUnion) that provides a list of “high risk” customers to most of the banks in the United States.
Not everyone on the list is truly “high risk” (for example, many people end up on the list through no fault of their own due to data errors, identity theft, or other mistakes). However, once you are on the list, it becomes very difficult to get a bank account, as most banks rely on data from ChexSystems to make decisions about who they will allow to open a new account. If you have been searching for a local non-ChexSystems bank, you may be frustrated and resigned to not being able to have a bank account. Don’t despair! There is a great option available to you—debit card or Internet bank accounts.
If you are tired of carrying cash or writing checks all the time, you owe it to yourself to try a debit card account. You can use it to shop at bookstores, supermarkets, restaurants, gas stations, online—anywhere Visa or MasterCard debit cards are accepted—and to get cash from ATMs around the world.
With a debit card, the purchase amount is automatically deducted from your bank account. There’s no credit involved and no interest charged. And transactions appear on your bank statement, so you can easily track your spending. You can also have your paycheck directly deposited into your debit card account so that you don’t have to cash your check at the local Check Cashing store!
The big difference between a debit card account and a regular checking account is that you will generally not be issued a checkbook with a debit card account. Instead, you will be able to pay your bills on the Internet by creating an “electronic check” that is either electronically delivered to your creditors or is printed by the bank and mailed to the creditors. Either way, you get all of the advantages of a normal checking account. Better yet, there are quite a few banks that will allow you to open a debit card account even though you are on the ChexSystems list. If you can’t find a local non-ChexSystems bank, you can open a debit card account even if you are on ChexSystems. Debit card accounts—they are a great alternative to regular bank accounts!