Most banks don't require a credit report to open a checking account. Some, like online bank ING, have started to implement the practice, but it's not very common. An overdraft here or there won't show up on a FICO score, but it can show up on an internal database used by the banking system.
ChexSystems - the "Other" Report
While banks don't check credit reports in the traditional sense, there is a special reports banks do pull from ChexSystems. In addition to an internal application and identity verification, banks query a database on potential clients. Adding this mechanism provides an extra risk assessment tool for banks, one that consumers should be aware of.
ChexSystems reports aren't as well known as FICO scores or credit bureaus, but consumers are entitled to one free report a year. This specialty report remains separate from traditional credit scoring mechanisms. It's a good idea to periodically review the information to make sure everything is correct. Information remains on the report for five years, a bit less than the standard for credit scoring.
Will ChexSystems Data Affect Opening an Account?
Typically, pulling the data doesn't pose a threat to most consumers. Unlike the scads of information collected by the credit bureau, ChexSystems mainly reports on larger issues: uncollected overdraft fees, number of accounts, repeated overdraft fees or fraud. Many banks allow customers to write statements explaining smaller issues, like racking up overdraft fees during a period of unemployment. Some consumers enjoy hopping from one bank to the next to acquire "freebies". This can cost account jumpers in the long term if banks see a pattern of behavior and refuse to open accounts.
A bank can deny customers the opportunity to open an account with them if the data given by ChexSystems shows a pattern of risky or fraudulent behavior. Make sure to check the free report annually to scan for any potential errors.
Bank Accounts are Indirectly Tied to Your Credit
Just because the credit report doesn't affect your checking account, however, doesn't mean the reverse isn't true. Lenders will require a checking account when applying for a loan or line of credit. Often, spending habits and account balances are monitored to ensure a pattern of responsible behavior. A client in the market for a mortgage, for example, might throw up a red flag if thousands of dollars of shoe purchases or charges from Best Buy appear on a bank statement right before closing.
Everyone makes mistakes from time to time, but avoiding overdraft fees and maintaining solid banking habits can pay off indirectly in the long term. Bank accounts do affect your credit, so budgeting now could save you thousands in interest down the road.