Simple Online Banking Review

Is Simple’s banking app a good deal?

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Simple is a mobile banking service with a focus on payments and budgeting. Simple dates back to 2009, when the founders sought to create a less expensive, frustration-free experience. The service uses BBVA USA for banking services and its FDIC insurance, and offers built-in budgeting tools to help you save, along with monthly-fee-free accounts.

What We Like
  • No monthly fees or overdraft charges

  • No minimum balance requirements

  • Automated budgeting tools with your account

What We Don't Like
  • No standalone savings account or CDs

  • No online bill pay

  • Uninspiring CD rates for an online bank

Who Is Simple Best For?

Simple is designed for those who want modern money management tools paired with a low-cost bank account. Simple might be particularly attractive if you’re looking for:

  • A payment account that works with a debit card and checks
  • A clear view of your regular monthly expenses via budgeting tools
  • Help with financial goals (like a vacation fund or a down payment)
  • An account that does not nickel-and-dime you on fees
  • Competitive interest earnings on long-term savings
  • Mobile alerts whenever money leaves your account
  • Zero-sum budgeting integrated into your bank account

What Does Simple Offer?

Accounts

  • Checking account
  • Savings account
  • Certificate of deposit

Services

  • Banking experience (online, mobile, and offline) 

Simple Account

The primary account at Simple is an online checking account, and the account lives up to its name with a simple fee structure. After opening this account, you can use Simple’s other services.

  • No monthly service charge
  • No minimum required to open
  • Mobile check deposit
  • Debit card for spending
  • Check writing ($5 for a book of checks)
  • Built-in budgeting tools
  • Pays 0.01% annual percentage yield (APY)
  • No overdraft fees
  • 40,000 fee-free ATMs through the Allpoint network
  • No fees from Simple for using out-of-network ATMs
  • 1% international transaction charge when you use your debit card outside of the U.S.

Simple is a modern payment account, but the service does not offer online bill payment. You can pay bills with your debit card or by writing a check, but you can’t schedule payments to go out by check, as you can with other banks.

Simple is unique because of the automated budgeting tools included with your account. Simple earmarks funds for your expenses, and you can also set up financial goals and automated savings programs to reach those goals. As a result, you always know how much money is available for additional spending—for discretionary spending or surprises—while staying on track financially.

Simple helps you stay on top of your finances with several categories of earmarks:

  • Expenses are regular bills that you identify, such as rent or your mortgage.
  • Goals are any priorities you specify. Examples include major purchases or vacations. Simple can automatically move a small amount over to your goal every day to help you follow through on funding those goals.
  • Safe-to-Spend is Simple’s term for money left over after accounting for your expenses and goals. 

Protected Goals Account

The Protected Goals Account is Simple’s version of a savings account, but you need to open a standard Simple Account before using Protected Goals. You earn more on your cash, and you keep funds out of your checking account so you’re not tempted to spend more than you should.

  • Pays 1.40% APY
  • Automated saving for goals
  • Requires just 1 cent to open
  • No monthly service charge

If you use Simple’s Savings Goals, the Protected Goals account is where your money goes while you build up your savings. You can move funds into it from your Simple payment account automatically, helping you automate the process of saving.

No-Penalty CD

If you want to lock in a rate, Simple offers a 12-month CD with no early withdrawal penalty.

  • Pays 1.00% APY
  • Requires $250 to open
  • Allows you to cash out at any time after seven days

The no-penalty CD is not the strongest piece of Simple’s offering. If you’re looking to lock in the highest rates, it’s worth comparing rates at other banks. See our list of the best CD rates, updated weekly, and look at Ally Bank or CIT Bank for additional no-penalty CD options.

Other Financial Products From Simple

Simple has a small but evolving lineup of products. Besides the deposit accounts described above, you can use Simple for:

  • Personal loans

More products may be coming in the future.

Simple Customer Service

Simple is designed to work primarily online, but you can contact live representatives for help. Hours are somewhat limited compared with those offered by some major banks, with phone support only available from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pacific time on weekdays and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.

Simple displays the status of all its systems online to help you determine if technical issues are on your end or theirs. Mobile alerts keep you up to date on your spending, and you can lock your debit card with Simple’s app to reduce the chances of fraud.

How to Bank With Simple

To open an account, visit Simple.com or call 888-248-0632. As with any financial institution in the U.S., you need to provide personal information when opening an account.

The Bottom Line

Benefits:

With no fees besides a $5 check order charge, Simple makes it easy to avoid annoying bank fees. Plus, the built-in money management tools empower customers who need help with spending and saving. Simple’s offering can handle the basic day-to-day needs of most consumers, and the service continues to add functionality.

Drawbacks:

Simple still lacks some essential features. As a result, you might pause before ditching your brick-and-mortar bank or switching from another online bank. CD rates are mediocre, and online bill pay will be a welcome addition, once Simple rolls it out. Also, Simple’s offering is a package deal: To use a CD or savings account, you need to open a Simple payment account first, which you might or might not need.

Article Sources

  1. Simple. "Banking and Budgeting in One Simple App." Accessed May 20, 2020.

  2. Simple. "High-Yield Account." Accessed May 20, 2020.

  3. Simple. "Account Type." Accessed May 20, 2020.

  4. Simple. "A Smart Budget Manager That Syncs with Your Simple Bank Account." Accessed May 20, 2020.

  5. Simple. "Grow Your Savings With a No-Penalty CD." Accessed May 20, 2020.