October 23, 2018

Simple Bank Review: Account Good for You?

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When was the last time you visited the branch of your local bank? If you've gone completely digital, you may want to use a bank that's done the same thing. Simple Bank offers many of the same bank features as physical bank branches without the overhead.

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Because Simple Bank doesn't have the overhead that physical branches have, they can pass along the savings to its customers. They do this by not charging fees. This includes monthly maintenance fees, overdraft fees, ACH transfer fees, and card replacement fees.

What Simple Bank offers is a free checking account that you tie into your financial goals. It's budgeting software meets checking account, but a basic checking account. Don't expect large amounts of interest or branches with bankers selling you a variety of services. What you see is what you get - a mobile app, website, and a checking account that you can use as you would any other checking account.

How Does Simple Bank Work?

It sounds odd. How do you deposit your money or withdraw it? Isn't there a drive-up window where you talk to the teller through the speaker?

You'll find none of that, but you will find a software company that's partnered with a bank that funds the accounts and holds your money. The partner bank is BBVA. They hold your money. Simple Bank creates and manages the software to help you with budgeting and managing your money. From afar, Simple Bank looks like a bank, but their partner bank is the true bank.

What you get from Simple Bank is budgeting software that helps you save for goals, have a true understanding of your "available funds," and offers bill paying services, all free of charge.

With a Simple Bank account, you get a Visa Debit card and a mobile app that allows you to deposit checks from your mobile app. You also have the ability to set up direct deposit, link external accounts for easy transfers, and send instant money transfers to other Simple customers.

Where Can You Find Simple Bank ATMs?
Simple Bank works with 40,000 ATMs throughout the US to make it easy for you to avoid paying ATM fees. As long as you use an Allpoint ATM, you shouldn't pay a fee. Simple Bank states that if you do get charged a fee at an Allpoint ATM, just let them know and they will reimburse you.

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Reasons We Like Simple Bank

  • You don't need to meet a minimum deposit to open an account. You can deposit $1 or $1,000 and you will be able to open a Simple bank account. We like this because many banks require a specific deposit or you can't use their features. The lack of a required minimum deposit makes it a good program for those just starting out.

  • The "Safe to Spend" feature helps you avoid overspending. If you have the habit of looking at your current available balance and spending what's there, you may find yourself overspending. The "Safe to Spend" feature considers your upcoming bills and goals, giving you an available balance that is truly available. This may help you avoid bouncing checks or paying bills late.

  • There's no monthly maintenance fee. There is also no cost to open an account. You don't have to have a minimum average daily balance to waive the monthly fee either - there no fee to waive.

  • You can automate your savings. If you set up a "goal" in Simple Bank's app, it automatically saves a little bit towards that goal in increments that you set. For example, you could set it up to pay your goal from your "Safe to Spend" amount every payday, every Friday, or once a month.

  • You can pay bills or another person via Simple Bank free of charge. Whether you want to pay your electric bill, mortgage, or your Aunt Cindy, you can do it all electronically with Simple Bank. Just enter the payment details in the "Pay Bills" or "Mail a Check" section, and your money will be electronically transferred or sent via paper check. There is no charge for this service.

  • You get a budgeting app alongside your checking account. You don't need multiple apps to manage. You can do it all in Simple Bank. Their budgeting software mimics what you might find in Mint, a popular budgeting app. Having it all in one place can help you stay more organized with the potential to get more financially secure.

  • You can view reports that help you understand your spending. Whether you like graphs, charts, or categorized reports, you can get any or all of these with Simple Bank. You can label the transactions and then manage them as you see fit to help you get a better handle on your spending. You can even add photos or hashtags to help you remember why you spent what you did.

  • They take security seriously. With two-factor authentication, Visa zero-liability policies, chip technology, and fingerprint unlock, Simple Bank helps you keep your financial information safe from hackers. Of course, no amount of security is foolproof; you should still be cautious whenever you are dealing with your bank account and bank information.

  • Your checking account is FDIC insured. This protects your money should the partner bank, BBVA Compass, go out of business. The FDIC insurance insures your funds up to $250,000 per account.

  • You are always "in the know." You can set up alerts so that you know instantly when a purchase is made with your Simple Bank Visa. You can also instantly block your card, should you think it was lost or stolen, by pressing the "block" button within the app.

Reasons You May Want to Look Elsewhere

  • Simple Bank only operates online. If you are the type of person who likes to go into physical bank branches, you might be disappointed with Simple Bank. Every transaction you make is either online or completed at an Allpoint ATM.

  • Deposited funds take a while to be available. During the first 30 days as a Simple Bank customer, your funds aren't available for 9 business days. After that 30-day period, they may be available within one business day if you deposit the funds before 5 PM ET. Any checks deposited after 5 PM ET won't process until the next business day, which means a potential 2 days before your funds are available.

  • It can be hard to deposit cash. You can't use an ATM to deposit cash like you can at other banks. Instead, Simple Bank encourages you to get a money order, which you can then deposit with their mobile check deposit. You can also deposit the cash in your local bank and then transfer it electronically to Simple Bank. It's a roundabout way to do it, but it gets the job done - it just takes time.

How to Contact Simple Bank
Simple Bank offers several ways to contact them:

  • Phone: 1-888-248-0632
  • Send a support message through the Simple Bank app
  • Send a message via their Twitter or Facebook page

How It Compares

Chime is another millennial-focused bank that offers online banking only; there are no physical branches. Unlike Simple, Chime is a bank. Chime gives users a checking account and a savings account, which serves as a micro savings account. Chime gives you the option to round up purchases or dedicate a percentage of each paycheck to go directly into your Savings account.

Ally is another online-only bank. Where Ally shines, though, is their higher interest rates offered on their savings accounts. Ally has minimal fees and they also offer CDs as another product to help you save money.

Varo offers services similar to Ally with their "Save your Change" and "Save Your Pay" services, both of which help you automate savings, making it easier for you to fund an emergency fund or save for a specific goal. You also earn interest on their savings account, which may be higher than the interest you'd earn at a local bank.

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Bottom Line

If you won't miss driving through a bank's drive-up lane, an online-only bank, like Simple Bank, can be a great solution. We think it's best for those who have a hard time budgeting their money, tending to overspend. If you find yourself short when a bill comes due, the "Safe to Spend" feature can be helpful.

As with any bank account, though, read the fine print and see how it pertains to your situation. There's no reason to pay unnecessary fees or have bank accounts that offer services that you won't use. Find the one that is just right for you to make it easier to keep your finances on track.

Write to Kim P at daniela@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

Note: This website is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.

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