[Hey Guys! I’m excited to share this awesome review today of Simple bank from my friend Will Parker who’s obsessed with them as much as I am with USAA ;) And is the only reason I don’t have an account with them myself! If Simple sounds familiar, it’s because they’re really starting to blow up (ask your hipster friend about them – hah), and they’re becoming known for doing one thing – and one thing only – exceptionally well: personal checking. Will gives us an in-depth look today along with actual snapshots of his own account for us to check out. I hope it helps!]
I used to suck at managing my money… it’s even difficult to remember why. It was probably one part laziness, two parts… more laziness, one part immaturity and a pinch of LIFE: “Shaken, not stirred.” Oh, and it didn’t help that most personal budgeting tools on the market weren’t really that great either. They still aren’t.
But I can remember the day all that changed (not the immaturity part – I’m still pretty goofy). I was sitting on the bedroom floor with a few bank statements surrounding me like numbers on a watch dial. I was on speaker phone with my Big American Bank trying to dispute a debt I didn’t think I owed. I couldn’t make sense of it, and I was getting nowhere. Frustrated, I gave them my debit card number, paid the debt ($1,000+) and hung up the phone. I was fed up. I knew something had to change.
(I’m an early adopter, think: Amazon Echo and Casper and pretty much anything on Kickstarter… I’m the kind of guy who sleeps outside for new Apple products – if they sold canned air I’d probably buy it).
A friend of mine had shared an invite with me a little earlier (at the time it was an invite only bank, but not anymore!), so I signed up and started the process of transferring my money over. As fate would have it, I had also recently bought tickets to see Dave Ramsey, who was coming to my home town. I had just paid the bill to my Big American Bank, and feeling confused and discouraged, I knew It was time to kick this thing into gear.
From the moment I signed on to the site, I could tell I was going to like them. Compared to the other banks I’d had before, Simple made managing my money an experience. I liked that. You know what I mean?
I think this is a key point: Using a product or service should be an experience like any good website or walk-in store. Websites should delight, entertain as well as serve a purpose. Not frustrate you. There shouldn’t be any barriers to using a product. Financial institutions don’t get a pass on this concept. The way you use the product is just as important as the product. Simple understands that.
Personal finance boils down to a few key concepts (as I see it).
Here’s how Simple addresses a few of them:
Safe-to-Spend — Most people know how much they get paid every paycheck and that’s about it. There’s money in their checking account and that’s all that matters. That’s where Safe-to-Spend comes in. Safe-to-Spend is the buffer of spendable money you have after you’ve told Simple what your Goals are for the month (bills, mortgage, rent, lights, water, food, etc).
Goals — You can think of Goals like digital envelopes. Like digital Dave Ramsey envelopes. You can either save for your monthly expenses (gas, food, cable, etc.) or you can save for something over time (saving for next year’s Amazon Prime Membership, tires for my car, etc.) or both. It works best for both.
Activities — Activities are your day to day spending. Nothing too special on the surface. But look deeper. Simple automatically categorizes your spending like a BOSS. Take a look at the screenshot below. Underneath of each dollar amount spent is the category Simple thinks it belongs in… Now, I know other personal budgeting tools do this… think Mint, YNAB, etc. But Mint isn’t a bank. It’s linked to your bank. Two accounts. Not very Simple.
Spend From — In my opinion this is Simple’s bread and butter. Scroll back up and take a look at the “Goals” screenshot, focusing on the Goal labeled “Gas”. After you spend money with your Simple debit card you can assign that purchase to a previously defined goal (like grabbing cash from an envelope). I set aside $50 per month for gas (I have a company car and travel like 90% on airplanes for my job). On November 14th I spent $26.01 on gas. Simple automatically subtracted that money from my “Safe-to-Spend” (top left corner), but only temporarily. After the amount cleared the “pending” status I simply tapped (clicked) on the purchase and told Simple I wanted that transaction to be spent from my “Gas” goal, not my Safe-to-Spend. So, I started the month with $50 in my gas budget. I spent $26.01 and assigned it to the “Gas” category. They left me with $23.99 left in the month for gas. Boom. Budgeting.
Other Kick-Ass Features
Simple has a BUNCH of other kick-ass features too. There are too many to list all of them, but here are a few others I love:
Customer Service and “Reachability” — I’ve never been a fan of how difficult it is to “contact” traditional banks (or most big companies for that matter). Simple understands that frustration. Inside their UNBELIEVABLE App is a one-touch contact feature. You can either tap the phone to call or the pencil to write them. And here’s something amazing. They almost ALWAYS answer on the first ring. No transferring to “other departments”, or “press 1 to speak to…” or “press 9 to BLAH BLAH,” etc. Just “Hello, and thanks for calling Simple. What can we do for you?”.
Getting your debit card — You know the feeling when you open an account with a new Big American Bank? It goes something like this:
“Junk mail, junk mail, junk mai… oh wait… This nondescript envelope from Delaware feels different. It feels like it actually has a hard piece of plastic in it. GEEZ. It’s actually my new card. Whew. Almost threw that one away.”
Here’s what it looks like with Simple:
Comes with a pocket-sized notepad they send and all (not pictured: a few really nice Simple logo stickers. They’re on my MacBook).
“Snapshot” — Want a reality check? Take a look at your spending overview. You can select a daily, weekly, monthly, last 90, 180, 270, 360 day or all time snapshot. In the screen shot below I have “last 90 days” selected. Looks like I need to stop spending so much MONEY!Is Simple for everyone?
- A killer app — For both iPhone and Android
- There are no fees — Simple doesn’t charge anything to have an account. Though if you use an ATM out of their fee-free network the owner of the ATM may charge, as well as Visa if you use your debit card internationally.
- All deposits are FDIC insured — Up to $250,000
- Simple works with Mint.com and even Digit!
Is Simple for everyone?
Probably not. Here are a few cons:
- No dual accounts – You and your significant other can’t share an account (YET – THIS IS COMING SOON). It’s probably the biggest drawback I hear from my friends and family. There are ways around it… Simple Instant for example… Simple Instant allows instant sharing of money between to Simple customers. So, in a way, you can share accounts and money. But it’s not an official “shared” account.
- No cash deposits – This one RARELY affects me… but it’s still a thing. This may be a big deal for some folks.
- No checks – There are no physical checks that you get when you sign up – You can still “write” a check from your phone (digitally) and submit it. Simple sends it… it just takes a few days for the process engine to… well, process it and send it to where you requested it to go.
- You need a smart phone — You can access everything through a computer, but if you want to deposit paper checks and do other stuff a lot faster using the phone helps.
- The interest rate isn’t that high — It’s comparable, but not high yield.
- Only works in the U.S.
- No reward plans — Which helps keep costs at zero.
- No CDs, loans, savings accounts, or any other banking products — Simple just does one thing and one thing well: personal checking.
More FAQs can be found here: simple.com/faq
Long story short, I love Simple. To the point where I’ve taken a trip to go visit them (picture below) and even been featured on their blog for paying off my $24,000 of debt in 9 months and a day! Obviously this makes me biased, but I’m glad I could still share.
You can learn more or sign up to them here: Simple.com
If you would like some help getting your own finances in shape let me know. Seriously. Or, if you just want to chat I’d be happy to do that too. You can find me on Twitter: @willevanparker. Shoot me a message. I’d be happy to help in any way I can.
PS: Picture below are the Simple folks. From left to right. Krista, Sarah, Josh, and me (guy in background is FOCUSED on some Greek food!). And special thanks to my good friend David Basinger (also in Greenville, SC) for editing this article. I am better at budgeting now… but I am still TERRIBLE at writing. David is really good at reading and writing… and selling houses. He sold me mine.
[Editor’s Note: We did not receive compensation for this post, nor will we if you end up signing up to use them… Though we’ll happily change that in the event they offer an affiliate program later as we love what they’re about ;) UPDATE: They now have an affiliate program and we swapped in our referral links. Meaning, if you end up signing up we’ll now be compensated for it.]
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I’ve been curious about Simple because our current bank still lives in the 1990s with a mobile app that is neglected and an outdated online banking system. I will have to keep an eye out for when they allow joint accounts because that is a deal breaker for the time being as my wife and I fall under the “one account for both” ideology.
A checking account is such a simple, fundemental part of someone’s financial life…It is nice that someone takes it seriously and does a nice job implementing one!
I am blown away to hear how awesome the customer service is! Isn’t it a sad testament to modern life when you are beyond impressed to hear about a company that actually answers the phone immediately when you call them??? Automated answering systems are the bane of my existence!
Haha right?? It’s no hard to actually be good and human these days :)
This sounds like an awesome new product. It sounds like they will automatically do all of the things that I’m currently having to do manually in an excel spreadsheet. I don’t know that I’m willing to give up my system (reference “My Current Financial Plan” on Band of Savers) just yet because it seems to be working so well but I can definetly see how this can be a life saver for someone who is just starting to learn how to pay attention to thier money.
I will have to look into them some more becasue I think they sound like something that needs to be shared with others. Thanks for letting up know more about them.
This sounds like a true bank of the future. I think more FinTech (and tech companies in general) will move in the direction of doing just one thing well. It simplifies life for consumers and businesses as well. Great review.
Perhaps they should contact Jesse and rename it YNAB Bank ;-)
FOR REAL! ;)
I am kind of bummed that they do not have joint accounts. I am new to the U.S. and my husband makes all the income for now and I would like to have a joint account in order to budget our expenses. I am looking forward for this new option to be available.
I’ve been using Simple for several months and I’m a big fan. I treat it as a secondary checking account for “spending money”: I transfer over a few hundred dollars every week and use it to make everyday purchases.
I did have my card compromised once and customer service was excellent, I was able to instantly disable my card, and they shipped a new one out to me the next morning.
There are a few features I’m still looking for from Simple, and I can’t truly switch away until they offer paper checks… there are just still some things in this world that require them.
Cool how you’ve implemented though :)
Looks pretty SIMPLE to use. Ha! I think the No Dual Accounts is a big missing ingredient of the tool though.
I talked to Simple at one of the FinCons. It seemed like a really cool idea. I don’t know if they still have the feature, but at the time you could set a goal and have a small amount each day (or week or whatever) taken out of the main account and into an account for that particular goal. So if you wanted to save up for a $1,200 vacation in 4 months, an automatic transfer would begin for $10 a day.
Smart feature for sure!
That sounds really good. I like the safe to spend and spend from features. Thanks for letting us know. See you learn something new everyday. =)
I’m glad you like Simple. I used them for 6 months about a year ago and had a horrible experience. It was right when they rolled out their new platform and everything messed up. They lost hundreds of dollars of my money and I couldn’t get anyone to answer me for weeks. I left them after that and have been monitoring social comments to see if they’ve gotten themselves back together. I love the concept, but thought they would be better as a website instead of an actual bank based on all the issues they had. Happy they’ve improved.
Yikes! that is horrible jeez, I’m sorry to hear… It seems like it’s a lot better now?
J. Money, simple seems to be very ideal because I like the Safe-to-Spend and it’s unbelievable that the other features like it has no fee and it has an app for Android and Iphone. Wow! Thanks for the review J.
Hadn’t heard of this service before, but it sounds like it could be very helpful. Thanks for sharing! Looking forward to reading future posts!
In my opinion nothing beats a Charles Schwab Investor Checking Account for one awesome killer feature – getting reimbursed on ATM fees WORLDWIDE. Pretty much every ATM is your ATM. I no longer have to pull out a wad of cash before a Vegas trip or if I go anywhere international because of this! This is key for a person like me who frequents many small businesses and restaurants that are cash only. Yes – places like those still exist. They also offer great customer service and anything else you might need from a bank (with the exception of being able to deposit cash).
I don’t think the budgeting feature of Simple would work for me. I try to use credit cards as much as possible so my spending is spread across multiple accounts, so I need my YNAB to reconcile everything.
That’s one of the perks to USAA too – free ATMs everywhere!
And you’re the second person to rave about that Schwab account this week… I’ve def. heard good things.
Haven’t heard of Simple before. Will have to check them out! I’m a USAA person myself, and also use Capital One 360.
worst bank ever. I’ve been trying to get my money for the last 5 weeks. They illegally froze my account. Then told me I could transfer my money to another account so I set up another account and they then told me I couldn’t and they had to have all of this personal inforamtion from the other bank and ssn, and birth certificate. and they still refused to give me access to my money and then they told me they sent a check and it would be to me in a couple of days. that was last week and i’m still waiting. I don’t even know if they sent the check or if they sent me all of my money or anything. I email them and call and get nothing. When I call they hang up on me. they are very rude and operate illegally. DO NOT BANK WITH THEM THEY WILL STEAL YOUR MONEY
Yikes, sorry to hear! I’ll pass this over to them and see if they can help out – sounds miserable :(
Don’t get scammed by this “bank”
Simple Bank owned by Spanish banker BBVA, and backed by Bancorp is a bunch of thieves. They have stolen $736 from my mother and countless amounts from others. They won’t talk anymore falsely claiming she deposited and cashed the check when they returned it. They stole her money and think I’ll shut up about it, F*CK YOU!
BBB complaints (Unresolved): “Once I verified my external account I proceeded to deposit $2500 into my Simple account. A few days later I was locked out of my account because they needed more verification. I sent in all requested material including 2 bank statements ………. Simple informed me that for some reason they could not return my money or close the account.”
BBB complaint (Unresolved): ” I had been a Simple customer for almost a year, and had never had any issues with them. Until February 8th… On February 8th I go to use my debit card and it’s declined, I was confused because there was over $1000.00 in the account, it shouldn’t have been declined…….On February 10th, my Federal Tax Refund was deposited into my simple account, over $6,000. I called simple because obviously at this point I’m extremely irritated that I can’t access MY money…….so once again, I am still sitting on this money because Simple can’t do an easy thing such as conform the funds are there to my current bank.”
BBB Complaints (Unresolved): Opened acct, they freeze funds – apparently a common issue with this company per online reviews – saying need id documents. Submit documents, they do not get back to me. Then say documents not in color and need pdf’s from bank. They refuse to close account and refund my $300. And there’s more, check out the link, check out the unresolved complaints issues. They are stealing people’s money. They are then refusing to respond to them and when asked what to do next they say they can’t talk anymore. They are thieves, scammers, etc. They may have once been good but they’re no better than a standard bank now
Damn, sorry to hear man.
I’ve never used Simple personally so can’t vouch entirely, but I do know that all banks have their issues no matter which it is. The important part is how they *deal with them all* in the end. So hopefully your mom gets a happy resolution and keeps fighting until she does!
If anyone’s looking for the full BBB report on them, here’s the direct link:
Looks like they currently have an A+ rating, though they’re not “BBB Accredited”.