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Simple | Banking Review

Simple | Banking Review

Brief History

A picture inside of Simple’s headquarters at Portland, Oregon.

A picture inside of Simple’s headquarters at Portland, Oregon.

Simple is a mobile and web access only bank that started in 2009. The founders of the bank Josh Reich and Shamir Karkal were appalled by the horrid customer service and ridiculous fees of traditional banking. Thus the two set out to revolutionize the banking industry.

Since then they two have worked tirelessly to develop their bank which is, shall we say Simple. Sometimes, all it takes to change things is to start asking questions. Simple is a company that genuinely tries to cater to customer needs by giving you the tools you need to succeed.

Account Features 

Goals - Simple allows us to do the digital equivalent of envelope budgeting with their app. You can move money in and out of goals anytime you like, and you keep the same total fund, just divided up into various goals.

To get started with goals you can:

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  1. Open up Simple either in your web browser or on the mobile and use the menu to navigate to the “Goals” tab.

  2. Hit the 'Create a Goal' or 'Add' button

  3. Choose a name, the amount you'd like to save, how often you want to contribute, and a completion date.

  4. That is it, but aside from your regularly scheduled contribution, you can add more to it or move money out of it anytime you'd like.

Protected Goal (or savings account) - A protected goal is technically another checking account built-in to your Simple app. Protected Goals are designed for your long term savings or emergency funds. Protected goals have an awesome 2.02% interest rate which is 22x more the national average of 0.09% for savings accounts in United States. Also you might have noticed Simple considers protected goals “checking accounts” and not “savings accounts” this is actually a really good for consumers, because there is a limit of 6 withdrawals per month for a savings accounts in the United States and there is no limit on transfers to and from your protected goal!

Expenses - Simple also allows you to create “expenses” these are a lot like goals and can be funded on a regular interval of your choosing. The main difference between goals and expenses is goals are built for financial goals that might not necessarily have a hard deadline like you might name a goal “ Saving for my future Mustang” or “Saving for a house” where as expenses are better used for regularly occurring expenses with hard deadlines like rent, utilities, insurance, etc.

To get started with expenses you can:

  1. Open up Simple either in your web browser or on the mobile and use the menu to navigate to the “Expenses” tab.

  2. Hit the 'Create an Expense' or 'Add' button.

  3. Enter the name of your expense, then choose the amount you need for this expense, then choose when you want your budget to start or when the bill is due, then choose how often you will need the money for this bill to be ready (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc), finally choose how often you want to contribute to this expense (for most people this is whichever day you get paid).

  4. That is it, but aside from your regularly scheduled contribution, you can add more to it or move money out of your expenses anytime you'd like. Or even modify the expense amount (for those summer time electric bills).

Safe-To-Spend - Safe-to-Spend is an accurate representation of your total account balance, minus any goals you have set, as well as any expenses you have funded. If you utilize the goals and expenses features Safe-to-Spend can give you peace of mind, and you won’t have to worry about if buying food or a video game will put you over your budget for the month.  It is also only worth noting that if you do not have enough money for a purchase left in your safe to spend, simple will never overdraft your account and instead ether take money from your goals and expenses or decline the transaction.

Visualized Spending - Simple helps you track your financial habits with visual graphs and charts. This visualized spending can help you analyze how much you spend on food, gas, and entertainment — seeing these graphs can help you determine how much to put aside in a goal for these expenses.  

Shared Accounts - With Shared Accounts, you can share your finances in whatever way you and the other individual see fit. You can share day to day finances, or save for a home together, and everything in between. With shared accounts, you have "your" account, "their" account, and "our" account. Togeather you can take advantage of Simple Banks 2.02% APY, create shared goals, and getting started is as easy as sending an invitation over the app. You do not even need to be near one another. 

Security (Is my money safe?)

Simple is registered, and FDIC insured up to $250,000. You can check here for more information. 

Simple's app also uses a 2FA (Two-Factor Authentication) to log on. 

Visa's Zero Liability Policy also covers your card issued by Simple. 

Fees

No Fees!

One of the biggest motivators behind starting Simple was eliminating unnecessary fees. Simple operates online only and does not carry the overhead cost of a brick-and-mortar bank. They transfer these savings to their customers by offering a genuinely convenient checking account. They are free to start, as well as no minimum balance requirements. They also do not charge a fee if you overdraft your account.

You might be wondering “Well if they aren’t going to have any fees, how do they afford to have so many features?” The answer to that is quite simple (pun intended), as mentioned previously Simple has no brick mortar locations so they significantly less overhead costs than a traditional bank and Simple like other banks as well make their profit from holding investing the U.S. treasury bonds, certificates of deposit and loans. This is also why Simple gives users so many tools to help them make the best financial decisions, its a win, win.

Pros

  • No fees of any kind including overdraft, ATM, and monthly maintenance fees

  • Unrivaled built-in budgeting tools to help you achieve your goals, know what's safe to spend, and what your expenses are.

  • Joint Accounts available

  • Paper checks available for $5.00

  • Outstanding Customer Service

  • Ability to activate and deactivate your debit card from the mobile app

  • Ability to change your debit card's pin from the mobile app

  • Built-in savings account with a 2.02% APY when maintaining a balance over $2000.00

  • Simple employs the Allpoint ATM network with over 55,000 ATMs in the United States. You can find more information or search for Allpoint ATMs here

Allpoint ATMs are available at most of these locations.

Allpoint ATMs are available at most of these locations.

Cons

  • No physical locations

  • Depositing cash is inconvenient and can only be done buying a money order or an external transfer from another financial institution (These transfers while usually free take 2-3 business days).

  • Bill Pay service ended on July 9, 2019.

  • No round-up function

Conclusion | Our thoughts

Simple does an outstanding job of connecting the needs of the customer with the tools to help them succeed, and this is where Simple truly outshines other banks. Indeed, Simple doesn't have the most robust wealth-building tools like the highest savings APY or interest rate, built-in round-ups or cashback on debit transactions, but honestly achieves a high middle ground for most of these. In a perfect world, people wouldn't need any budgeting software to help them calculate their finances or save for goals, but the fact of the matter is most of us do, and that is why we at Budget Geek believe Simple is a fantastic choice for banking. Overall Simple is an excellent bank to choose and really caters to anyone tired of manually tracking their finances whether you are a finance guru like us or someone just trying to pay rent.

Budget Geek Appraisal & Rating

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